Open Letter to the Gem State Conservatives

Open Letter to the Gem State Conservatives


It’s time to unify the Idaho GOP


By Brian Almon


Dear Trent, Tom, Tyler, Ashley, and all the rest who publicly or privately supported the effort to unseat Dorothy Moon and her supporters from the Idaho Republican Party:


I’m sure you’re feeling frustrated right now. You gave everything you had in this undertaking to win control of the party, from precinct committeeman races to legislative district and county committee meetings to the state convention, and came up short. Nobody likes to lose, and nobody likes being patronized, so I’ll stop there.


I want to echo the words of Dorothy Moon from Saturday: Unify the party!


The debates are over, the votes have been counted, and the people have spoken. When you denounce the Article XX meetings, you do so by saying voters should make the ultimate choice. Well, voters elected PCs, those PCs elected delegates, and those delegates overwhelmingly elected Dorothy Moon and her allies to lead this party for the next two years.


Your premise this year was reasonable: 2022 might well have been a fluke, a coup by extremists who hijacked the process and stacked the convention. Well, 2024 just proved that was no fluke. There is a real conservative revolution happening right before our eyes — the question is: will you get on board the train, or get run over?


I ask you to respect the outcome of these elections and work with us to defeat ranked choice voting and the Democrat agenda. Thank you to Trent for words to that effect on Saturday afternoon. Now it’s time to follow through. I know you don’t personally like Dorothy Moon or many of the people currently in party leadership. That’s ok. Abraham Lincoln famously put together a “team of rivals” in order to get the best out of all of them. “We salute the rank, not the man,” said Major Winters in Band of Brothers.


You always bring up the quote from Ronald Reagan about people you agree with 80% of the time. Well, let’s see that philosophy in action. Had your candidates won, you surely would have expected all of us to unite with you, so I’m asking you to unite with us. Let’s focus on that 80%, or whatever the number is, and build upon that to make a stronger Idaho GOP that is ready for the challenges we face now and will in the future.


Doing so means understanding some things:


This is not your father’s Republican Party. I don’t believe our principles have changed, but many of our policy positions to carry out those principles have. The post-Trump GOP is skeptical of endless foreign military adventures — that is why so many people supported the Defend the Guard platform this weekend. Many Republicans, especially of the younger generations, saw the painful lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq and don’t want to see our blood and treasure spent in neverending geopolitical brinkmanship.


The post-Trump GOP is also skeptical of big business. I know many of you spent your careers working for (or founding) successful businesses, and you remember the Reagan era when Republicans were defined by their support for the free market against central planning. Republicans today aren’t fans of the government, but we have come to see big businesses as the second head of the same hydra. Nearly every major corporation has gone 100% woke now, draping itself in gay pride flags and adopting every left-wing trope, even to the point where conservative employees can lose their jobs for speaking freely. We also watched government and businesses work together to shut down our lives during the Covid pandemic.


Republicans today still reject central planning but they also reject big woke corporations that have the power to deny a living to ordinary people. I don’t think they’re looking to heavily regulate businesses, but perhaps it’s time to start withdrawing tax breaks, carve outs, and regulations that favor big companies over small ones.


Republicans today are open to ideas that might seem heretical to those who have been involved in politics for many decades. School choice is inevitable; there is no reason that our public school system has to continue operating the same way it has for the past century. Let’s talk about what form it can take here that will best serve families and students. Let’s look at our tax system, government spending, land management, and our state’s relationship with the federal government with an open mind. If Republicans express skepticism of the FBI going after innocent Americans who happened to be at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, that doesn’t mean they want to defund the police.


It’s also time to stop the outright hostility toward recent arrivals. Unlike in past decades, the people coming from California, Oregon, and Washington today are generally more conservative than the native population. Yes, they need to learn about Idaho before jumping in the arena. Yes, they need to show respect and humility toward those who have been here for five generations. However, that respect goes both ways. Many of these immigrants have seen how policies that seemed like good ideas at the time destroyed the once red states they came from. They have ideas you might not have considered, which provide opportunities to think outside the box. Rather than dismissing and demonizing them, let’s have good faith productive conversations.


You must recognize that the America in which Millennials and Zoomers have grown up is not the America of the Greatest Generation. A 25 year old today was too young to remember the pre-9/11 world before excessive security, the Patriot Act, and the Global War on Terror; when men were men, women were women, and children were innocent. He potentially saw his parents lose their jobs and maybe even their house in the Great Recession. He saw the cultural stagnation of the aughts and the turmoil of the 2010s. He spent the first years of his 20s locked down by various government bodies for a virus that did not threaten him in the least. The first time he was old enough to cast a vote for president, the left swindled him through mail-in voting and ballot harvesting. Now they’re working to put the man he voted for in jail, surely hoping he will die there.


Big corporations have been woke all his life. Over and over, he has seen a Republican Congress fail to do anything of substance. How many times have our candidates, legislators, congressmen, and senators said we must stop the deficit, we must reform entitlements, we must close the border, we must defund Planned Parenthood, we must repeal Obamacare? Does this Zoomer have a right to be cynical and distrustful of political promises? Can you see how he will view the world in a completely different way than you?


Many young Republicans are trending socially liberal, but I think even more are turning socially conservative. Compromising on abortion, LGBTQ+ issues, and radical gender ideology in schools might gain you points with the left side of the party and the corporate media, but the right turns you off completely. Young people are looking for fighters, not compromising quislings.


In Twin Falls, Brent Regan said that Republicans were looking for a fighter, and Dorothy Moon fit that bill. She boldly speaks truth to power, something that I believe was lacking in previous Idaho GOP administrations. Maybe you disagree with her, maybe you think she’s disingenuous, maybe you think she’s just completely bonkers, but ask yourself what she offers the grassroots that you do not. Once you step outside your bubbles, as you did last week, you can see that many people clearly respond to what she has to say.


It’s time to stop bringing up Ronald Reagan in every single speech. Take this as good faith advice. I appreciate Reagan for the way in which he explained the battle between freedom and totalitarianism, but he belongs to a different time. He passed away 20 years ago and his presidency ended 35 years ago. For young people today, young people looking at dwindling prospects for good careers, for starting families, and for owning homes, 35 years might as well be 135. He is simply not relevant to the struggles they face today. Remember him, honor his legacy, but let him go. My project lately has been to figure out how to deliver timeless principles in a way that addresses modern problems — let’s have a good faith conversation about that instead.


Donald Trump is inspiring today’s Republicans, young and old, in the same way Reagan inspired you. I know he might not be your cup of tea — he’s crass, he insulted the Republican establishment in 2015-16, and perhaps he has failed in some policy area you care a lot about. But there is no question that he is the one person who has even the slightest chance of turning our country around right now. You remember Michael Anton’s essay The Flight 93 Election, right? He said that Republicans had been sounding the alarm over the oncoming crash of our country for years, but the moment one man stood up and said “I’ll stop it” many on our side rejected him. Too extreme. Too rude. Too inconsistent. It raised the question: Did they really believe their own rhetoric about saving this country?


Donald Trump does something few political figures have done in the last century: he speaks directly to the people. He’s not a polished politician, he doesn’t speak in bland cliches, his tweets aren’t poll tested. He and Dorothy Moon have that in common, which is why so many Republicans are willing to support both. For his crime of challenging the post-WWII world order — the one in which you grew up and took for granted, but is leading our country into serious decline — he has been attacked from both sides and now faces the prospect of prison, or worse.


Let me be brutally honest in explaining how your officer candidates came across on Saturday. I say this without personal malice, but I want to help you understand why Republicans are abandoning your flag. Mary could barely hide the contempt she felt toward 2/3 of the delegates. Wayne, Tom, Billy, Brian, Shellie, and Charlene all seemed to be looking toward the past rather than sharing a vision for the future. Republicans today are not only desperate for leaders who can present a positive vision of how to rebuild the free society their grandparents enjoyed, but for leaders who are happy warriors, joyfully charging into battle at the head of the column. That’s the appeal of a Donald Trump, a Dorothy Moon, and many others you decry as too extreme. They have that rare joy that survives many years in the brutal world of politics. Find your joy, and people will follow.


Consider Tammy Nichols, perhaps not your favorite person, but a perfect example. When some PAC sent out a text message falsely accusing her of having a felony arrest two decades ago, complete with a picture of her on a wanted poster, Tammy made fun of it. Rather than complain about being unfairly attacked, she put the picture on a t-shirt. People love happy warriors.


I know Trent will call me out if I don’t mention the D word. Many of you have claimed that the conservative wing of the party wants to legalize drugs, and even indicated that this is the surely the top priority, the driving force behind conservative legislators. First, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think any Republican legislator in Idaho wants to legalize drugs. There are, however, discussions about how far our state should go to keep them out, or how much should be allowed with regards to things like vaping and CBD products.


I recently wrote what I hoped was a thoughtful examination of the way in which our country has handled laws regarding drugs, alcohol, and other vices through the years. We need to have a good faith conversation about where we are headed with regards to the various mind-altering substances in the world, because like it or not, younger generations are much more open to legalization, and the problem won’t go away by ignoring it. I don’t like drugs, I have never ingested anything more potent than Earl Grey tea or a glass of red wine, but there are many people out there for whom marijuana is just as casual as beer. I know it’s not a 1:1 comparison, and that there are issues with variations in potency and potential fentanyl content, but we need to have a discussion about how to handle this issue going forward. Don’t just accuse anyone to your right of trying to smuggle drugs into elementary schools.


In the spirit of fairness and of a good faith discussion, I will admit some of the weaknesses of my side that I want to address going forward.


Yes, some of our policy proposals are a bit off. To be honest, I am tired of hearing the word chemtrail. Many conservatives have begun questioning everything so-called official sources claim to be true, but it has gone overboard in many ways. Obsessing over the Covid vaccine can also come across as unserious, considering how many people (perhaps some of you, but that’s your business!) took a few shots with no apparent side effects.


We need to have open good-faith discussions. My friends shouldn’t dismiss something just because Trent or Tom brought it up, and conversely, your friends shouldn’t shut out an idea just because it came from Dorothy or Brent.


Many fervent conservatives are still new to the political process and don’t understand the history, complexity, and structure of our state government. (One of my goals with this platform is to be an educational resource for those things!) They find it hard to trust official sources or corporate media, and can easily miss important context.


I recognize what Sen. Cook pointed out in debate on Saturday, that it’s unfeasible to completely cut off spending for higher education. However, we need to have a conversation about the role of government and how much of the peoples’ money it spends, and I hope the new platform plank spurs one. I truly appreciate Sen. Cook and Rep. Miller for showing up to the convention from day 1, taking part in the discussions both in the Platform Committee and on the floor. Let’s continue that conversation!


I am not a huge fan of Article XX. While I believe that PCs should have the ability to hold their legislators to account, and to share that information with voters in their districts and counties, the process as it stands now only creates more division. Your team saw its biggest success in Bonneville County last month, helped along by a central committee that perhaps did not realize how much their electorate had drifted away from them. Censuring a lawmaker who then goes on to win with more than 60% of the vote demonstrates the toothlessness of the system, at least in that region.


I’ve really started to understand how geographically diverse our state is, and how that affects politics and policy. Many of the losing candidates in the southeast campaigned as if they were running in North Idaho, and vice versa. I think both sides should call something of a truce: I want my friends to stop calling eastern Idaho legislators RINOs, and I ask you to stop calling North Idaho legislators (and those in the center of the state and the Magic Valley now) extremists. It is clear to me that, despite significant differences in ideology and personality, both Sen. Cook and Sen. Lenney have figured out how to effectively communicate with their own voters. Let’s find some common ground and work together, and respectfully debate the areas in which we disagree.


Let’s unify the party. Let’s work together. Remember that iron sharpens iron — let’s keep our disagreements private but honest (and hope nobody is recording the conversation to leak to a hostile media outlet). As chair of LD14 I will give my all to electing Republican candidates, even those with whom I don’t fully see eye to eye. Consider that by stepping up to nominate not one but two of your candidates on Saturday, Annette Tipton likely disappointed many of the delegates who supported Dorothy Moon and her allies. However, you have my word that I will do what I can to help her defeat the real enemy, Rep. Berch. Unify the party!


I have some caveats, however. You need to be honest. Examine yourself, your beliefs, and your principles. Do you truly believe in the values of the Republican Party — the GOP of today, not the one from 40 years ago you recall through rose colored glasses? Can you support a party leadership with which you have some personal issues? Can you support the 2024 Idaho GOP Platform? If you have any disagreements with the platform, just be transparent and say so. Nobody will agree 100%, but the people deserve transparency.


If you find that you identify more closely with the Democratic Party, then be honest and switch your affiliation. I know that in many districts it’s a lot harder to win as a Democrat in the general than as a Republican in the primary, but be honest. The Republican Party is a conservative party and grows more so every day. Sure, we can have a big tent, but it has to expand to the right, not to the left. Republicans should welcome good-faith converts, but not those for whom the Democrats simply went too far left too quickly.


If the first thing you did after hearing of Dorothy Moon’s victory was to run to left wing media to denounce the results, then I suggest you disaffiliate from the Idaho GOP, because you’re indistinguishable from Lauren Necochea. It shouldn’t be hard to tell the difference between the rhetoric of the Statesman’s editorial board and your website. If you spent Saturday evening posting angry screeds on social media, then perhaps our party is not for you. We want fighters who will stand with us, not fifth columnists who will sooner stick a knife in our backs than fight the left.


If you support the ranked choice voting / jungle primary initiative, then I respectfully request you disaffiliate immediately. You know as well as I do that the purpose of the jungle primary is to destroy the Idaho Republican Party, and the purpose of ranked choice voting is to give a big advantage to moderate candidates. The Idaho GOP is going to do its utmost to stop this initiative, as am I. If you are working against that goal, then go.


Mary said she wants to stop ranked choice voting, as has Trent. That’s great. If you’re all on the same page, then I will be happy to stand side by side with you in the fight, both to stop the initiative and to elect Republicans this November.


The primary and the convention are over, so now is the time for all true Republicans to come together to fight the Democrats and save our state. Dewey and Taft came together to fight the Democrats. Rockefeller and Goldwater came together to fight the Democrats. Reagan and Bush came together to fight the Democrats. I know, I asked you to stop looking backward, my apologies. Let’s work together to create a positive vision of a nation and a state in which Millennials, Zoomers, Alphas, and whomever comes after can enjoy the faith, family, and freedom that previous generations took for granted.


Unify the party!


Brian Almon
Gem State Chronicle