Guest Posts on Life in Trump Country, Part 2: Idaho Is Owned by Republicans

(As I continue my search for a decent meal in London, I've turned the blog over to some red staters who are not fond of our president. It's for all of us who are sick of hearing about Trump voters who don't give a damn if Trump is boning Ivanka. Today's entry comes from Kent Jensen from way out in Idaho. He explains the "cognitive dissonance" that it takes to love Trump while being from that state.)

I live in the reddest state in the union. Others may claim this title, but they are poseurs. Idaho is not only run by Republicans; it’s owned lock stock and barrel by them. All state officers are Republicans. Republicans hold 84 percent of the seats in the state legislature. In every decision by Trump to kick the U.S. down to the bottom of the ladder, Idaho’s congressional delegation has been at the forefront. Pull us out of the Paris Climate Accords? Murray Energy-owned Senators Risch and Crapo were two of the signatories to the letter urging Trump to do so. Get rid of DACA? Governor Otter and our Attorney General were on board to sue the federal government over DACA. If Trump wants to strip millions of their health care, the boys from Idaho would help. Need to defend Trump’s Russian collusion? Call Senator Risch. In fact, I’m not sure that these political jellyfish would abandon Trump even if he were caught throwing the pee hookers off the Ritz-Carlton Hotel balcony.

Idaho has an anti-federal government stance that is an inch deep and a mile wide. Idahoans complain about the federal government, but this state would dry up and blow away without it. The Snake River plain is one of the richest agricultural sections in the entire United States, and its existence depends upon the BLM’s management of dams on the Snake River that provide irrigation water. Rural counties receive substantial payments from the federal government that help pay for county services and schools. Idaho forests have some of the best fishing and hunting grounds in the US, all maintained by the federal government. Yet Republicans believe that their very lifeblood is being wrung out of them by the government.

They support Trump’s anti-trade stands, yet Idaho’s three largest trading partners are China, Mexico and Canada. If Trump did away with NAFTA, Idaho’s agricultural exports would sink. Trump’s elimination of the Pacific Rim trade pact has already impacted Idaho’s beef producers. Yet, nary a discouraging word is heard about Trump.

Additionally, Idaho Republicans love Trump’s anti-immigration stance, even though undocumented workers and their DACA-eligible children have been the ones who have labored to keep the agricultural engine purring along.

Idaho’s Republican Party also believes that it is the moral barometer of the state. Nowhere is this evidenced more than among the Mormon religion, which is dominant in south-central, eastern, and southeastern Idaho. The Mormon religion claims to hold itself to an overarching moral standard. Yet Idaho’s Mormons gave wholehearted support to Trump. Many believe that Trump is doing Jesus’s work and that good Mormons cannot be Democrats. Since they worship authority (you’ll never find any student protests at BYU), Trump’s penchant for authoritarianism doesn’t even get a second thought, nor does Trump’s aversion to the truth.

Even though Nazis were evicted from northern Idaho by the SPLC, they’re back. The forests of northern Idaho are full of last dayers, preppers, militiamen, or whatever they call themselves now. They claim to be the vanguard of white nationalism.

So, with its latent racism, it’s kinship with authoritarianism, along with its blatant hypocrisy, Idaho is the perfect state for Trump. Don’t get me wrong; there are many good people who live here, which is why the Trump support puzzle is so hard to decipher. Cognitive dissonance is my explanation, and, even though it was not formulated here, its roots grow deep and strong in Idaho.

A few days ago a neighbor posted to Facebook a meme that stated he had voted for Trump and if that made us angry, it didn’t matter because he was going to vote for Trump again. He’s probably right, and if Trump is still around in 2020, Idaho will throw its support his way. It’s the Republican thing to do out here.