Democratic delegates from around the state are meeting in a conference room inside of the Coeur d'Alene Casino in Worley to tweak the party's platform. Delegates are examining the platform, or list of what party members want the party to stand for, piece by piece, and suggesting changes. The party as a whole will decide on a party platform Saturday.
Some suggestions are coming in response to national issues. Bill Wilson, a delegate from Boise County, suggested that the platform be altered in a way to ask for an end to armed conflict in the Middle East. The current platform calls for withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but Wilson said he would like the statement to include Afghanistan as well. Several delegates, including Chryssa Rich from Ada County, suggested that the new language would buck the current trend of the national party. Rich said that Wilson's suggestion would be in direct contrast with the positions of Democratic President Barack Obama, who has advocated for a withdrawal from the region only when certain conditions are met. Rocky Clark of Bingham County concurred with Obama's position. "It needs to be an intelligent withdrawal," Clark said.
Wilson sparred with fellow delegates on other issues. Alice Stevenson, representing Teton County, proposed that the party adopt language that would support more art in communities. Wilson responded that publicly-funded art is not necessarily the job of government. "So you want the state to fund the arts? Why don’t you add apple pie while you are at it?" asked Wilson.
During the 2010 legislative session, Idaho lawmakers voted to require voters take photo identification to the polls when they vote in November's general election. Rich said she believes that is something the party must oppose. "We do not support taking ID at the polls," Rich stated. She said there is too much ambiguity in the process of obtaining identification for the Legislature to require such a measure.
The Idaho Republican Party has made issue of closed-primary elections in recent years, favoring the idea in order to allow only registered Republicans to vote to select state and federal candidates. Delegate suggestions on the issue were mixed, but Rich again chimed in to oppose the idea. "We risk alienating those who are doing some cross-over voting or are switching over to use completely," said Rich. Other delegates said that they believe independent voters will play an increasingly-important role in elections in the state in future years and that the party needs to remain friendly to them.
Delegates were acutely aware of language and wording in their suggestions. One delegate, who did not offer her name, suggested the party include the term "the common good" in its platform, a measure swatted down by others amid concerns that it might be too controversial. Other successfully suggested that the term "global warming," which appears in the party's statements on the environment, be changed to "climate change" to sound friendlier.
Other topics discussed were health care, anti-discrimination measures, nuclear power, and tax policy. Decisions on which statements the party will adopt will come Saturday afternoon. Delegates will continue to meet and discuss more platform ideas Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
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