Barring the unforeseen, we now know who will be on the ballot from the top of the ticket down for both parties, and the choices couldn’t be more clear.

Pat Tucker

Pat Tucker

It’s time to accept our responsibility as voters.

First, commit to voting. Not voting is a grievous, unpatriotic act and actually a vote to continue the president’s unprecedented attacks on our democracy including threatening to delay the election, slowing the mail when mail-in voting is critical for our own health and the health of our electoral process, and directing federal troops to attack Americans peacefully protesting amid decades-high joblessness, unresolved racial strife, and a still-raging pandemic.

Second, commit to voting safely. If you haven’t already, request an absentee ballot from the Idaho Secretary of State’s website. No one has to choose in Idaho between voting and safety. After you receive your ballot, mail it back immediately, or place it in the secure drop box outside the Elections Office, so that your vote will be unquestionably on time.

Third, commit to making accountability your voting standard. If your car is repeatedly returned to you in worse condition, you’d find a better mechanic, right? Apply that standard to the people who are paid to represent us.

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch voted recently against the Great American Outdoors Act. According to co-sponsor U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, the act will create jobs in southeast Idaho to maintain our neglected public forests and national parks by providing permanent funding of the Land Water Conservation Fund. Running against Risch this year, U.S. Senate candidate Paulette Jordan noted that every county in Idaho has had a project funded by the LWCF. Hold Risch accountable for voting against the interest of Idahoans.

In Bonneville County, District 33 Rep. Barbara Ehardt voted this year against all funding for public higher education in Idaho and has worked to halt inclusion programs at Boise State University. Her opponent, Miranda Marquit, supports stable funding for early to lifetime education as an investment in Idahoans and Idaho’s economy. District 32 Rep. Chad Christensen voted against funding for all public education. His opponent, Teton County Commissioner Bill Leake, supports responding to the pandemic with decisions educated by science. Hold Ehardt and Christensen accountable for obstructing public education for Idahoans.

What about idealism? Idealists value what could be if we do things right, without corruption. We need idealists disciplined with practicality at all levels of government because they aim high but seize opportunities to move forward. Amy Klobuchar tells of asking Joe Biden to write to a volunteer in Minnesota who had recently lost her husband. Biden said he “could do better than that” and called the woman over weeks to uplift her — someone he’d never met. That anecdote resonates with me because, as with Biden, my child was killed by a reckless driver, and I know the difference such reaching out can make. Idealists believe in doing our best to help others when given the chance.

Voting to the standards of accountability and disciplined idealism will help us elect not just politicians but public servants for Idaho and our country.

Pat Tucker is the chair of the Bonneville County Democratic Party.