Local column: Vote for politicians who care

If we would all vote only for politicians whose voting records show they care about their constituents, our republic would be protected, writes Elizabeth Cogliati.

It is time for the people of Idaho to stop blindly voting candidates into office based on the letter behind their names. It is time for us to start thinking about what each candidate offers and how they treat their constituents.

What should we expect from our elected officials?

1. Vote in the best interest of their constituents, not the big donors.

2. Hold regular town hall meetings where they talk to their constituents.

3. Take into account constituents’ communications and answer with relevant responses so we know we are being heard and that we still live in a representative democracy.

We should ask these three things of every candidate for elected office, and refuse to vote for candidates who do not do these things.

Idahoans have gotten too used to simply voting in candidates labeled Republican. The Republican candidates have gotten complacent and believe that they will be voted in no matter what. We need to change that — whatever your political beliefs, do not vote for someone who is not responsive to their constituents.

Unfortunately, none of our current federal representatives are doing these three things. They just voted for a tax reform bill that benefits wealthy individuals and corporations, of which there are very few in Idaho. Most haven’t held in-person town hall meetings in years (if at all), and all communications are answered with generic form letters that may or may not be relevant or even related to the original topic.

Congressman Raul Labrador is not only an elected official, he is running to be the next governor of Idaho. In this context, his attacks on the Democratic party and his vote for the tax reform are especially concerning.

Every candidate and elected official in this country is responsible for supporting our democracy and our freedoms, including our First Amendment rights. I find a statement like this, “I believe that no one in the United States has done more to undermine the belief in the United States democratic process than the Democrats and the press, in some cases, when they continue to report on false allegation after allegation after allegation,” which Congressman Labrador said when questioning Rod Rosenstein at a Dec. 13, 2017, Judiciary Hearing, to be very concerning.

One of the first steps to creating a dictatorship is to question everything that the press and the opposition party do. There’s a difference between a healthy debate and undermining our democracy. Not to mention that the Republican party has also made many allegations against Democrats in the past, so this is also a hypocritical comment.

Congressman Labrador’s vote for the tax reform is very concerning, as Idaho has very few wealthy people and has many people who fall in the tax brackets that will benefit very little, if at all, from the tax reforms. Do we want a governor who will vote against the interests of most of the people in this state?

Remember, only vote for people whose voting record shows they care about their constituents, and communicate with them often and clearly. If everyone did this, our republic would be safe.

Cogliati has lived in Idaho Falls since 2004. She is an artist and a mother of two, and is very involved with the Unitarian Universalist Church. She volunteers on several local boards and is the founder of Idaho Falls Progressives.