Republican Party Chairman Doyle Beck, recently explained how the Idaho Freedom Index is a ground-breaking accountability rubric to keep the Idaho Republicans on the straight and narrow. Beck believed that this Freedom Index and the published scores of our lawmakers keep them doing what he wants them to do, like writing a letter to the Boise State University president urging her to end programs for marginalized populations. In fact, he stated, “I doubt the letter would have been possible if the Freedom Index didn’t exist.”

Kristina Batalden

Kristina Batalden

I am guessing the basic foundation behind the creation of Freedom Index must have come from the ideas written in the GOP platform. The preamble to the GOP platform begins as such: “We believe the strength of our nation lies with our faith and reliance on God our Creator, the individual, and the traditional family; and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.”

But in the GOP platform, the articles and sections that follow the preamble do nothing solid to really support dignity for all — the very same dignity mentioned at the beginning of the document. In fact, GOP policy and voting stances indicate that dignity is reserved for the select few. But perhaps if the preamble at least mentions the desire to honor our dignity, one would think the Idaho Freedom Index should include human dignity and its preservation as something to keep the lawmakers accountable for.

The Idaho Freedom Index is a rubric designed to keep the Idaho Republicans in office true to the Republican platform. Sadly, honoring the dignity of a human being is not listed in the 11 instances that guide the rubric. I argue that it should be. I would like to know how each of our lawmakers rates on a scale that includes dignity. Citizen or not, one human being isn’t more worthy than another human being — regardless of which side of the fence or wall each stands. One type of family isn’t more worthy than another type of family. Each family deserves the opportunity and dignity to live in an affordable home.

Where do our lawmakers stand on dignity?

Do they believe in the dignity of a living wage?

Do they believe in ensuring the availability of affordable housing? Yes, there is dignity in private ownership and the ability to freely determine how to manage one’s private property, but how much profit is enough? Where is the moral fiber in pricing out our neighbors and children? Shouldn’t our lawmakers try to find a balance between private profit and what our hard-working Idaho citizens can afford?

We all have free will, and we need to use it to ensure human dignity for all. Our issues in Idaho, sadly, are bigger than these current lawmakers can tackle — but they are all we have. Our issues are about human rights. Our issues are about doing the right thing. Our issues aren’t about preserving conservative principles or voting according to Doyle Beck’s commandments to get a high percentage index score. The division in our communities is not a political division, but a social division. Will we continue on as individuals selfishly trying to win, or will we join in a spirit of sacrifice and understand that our community is only as strong as our defense for the poor and the marginalized? Dorothy Day once said, “We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.”

If our Idaho lawmakers truly honored human dignity, then it should be an easy thing to add it to the Freedom Index. Otherwise, they might become so comfortable, they will lose sight of all the Idahoans they have promised to protect.

Kristina Batalden is a local teacher, mother of four and grandmother of one.