For many people, the question just posed will induce puzzlement. After all, are not all Idahoans also Americans? While that is certainly true, there is nevertheless an important sense in which being an Idahoan and being an American are incompatible. This sense is captured in everyday life when we speak of our “country” or “nation” in an exclusive way. And this is well and proper, for national identity is an important and necessary boundary in human affairs. It provides a sphere of loyalty in which people with a common way of life may pursue political and communal meaning to their own satisfaction. Additionally, it allows other people – other nations – to pursue a different path, shaped by a different culture or way of life.
In this sense, then, one may be primarily either an Idahoan or an American. With that in mind, here are a few reasons why Idaho is better than America.
Reasonableness of Governance
Most federal policy is made by unelected, nameless bureaucrats who dictate the size of our toilets and from whom we may purchase healthcare services. For nearly 20 years these bureaucrats forced wolves onto Idaho’s beleaguered ranchers, and even today our state and local tax dollars must be spent mopping up the mess created with our federal tax dollars.
To top it off, the feds are just plain mean. When Jeremy Hill of Bonners Ferry shot and killed a grizzly bear to save his children, Idaho officials exercised their common sense and ruled that Hill was fully justified. But the feds tried to prosecute him anyway, and even after the absurd charges were dropped they insisted on imposing a fine of $1,000. If there is there any reason short of aggressive intimidation and sheer arrogance that can explain this grotesque behavior, it can only serve to illustrate how utterly separate and disconnected Idahoans are from federal power.
Idahoans are Responsible
This year, the federal government has spent $3.5 trillion, an amount roughly equal to the entire Gross Domestic Product of Germany. By the end of the year, they will have spent approximately $5 trillion, which is roughly equal to the entire GDP of Japan. (Note: Japan and Germany are the third and fourth, respectively, richest states in the world.) But these absurd figures do not give even the slightest pause to the feds, who continue their destructive habits even after hitting the debt ceiling; as of this writing, the “debt limit breach” is over $39 billion. The U.S. Treasury apparently believes this amount is too small to count as a serious violation of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power over taxing and spending. But consider: $39 billion is approximately 4 times the total revenue raised by the State of Idaho. (Source: http://www.USDebtClock.org )
By contrast, Idaho’s total debt represents a mere 11% of the state’s GDP (about $10.4 billion). And it won’t do to simply chalk this up to Idaho’s relative size; unlike the feds, Idaho does not have a central bank with the power to finance every scheme concocted by corrupt politicians. Idaho spending, while sometimes wasteful, is still largely sustainable and presents no serious threat to the value of our money. In other words, while the federal government is on the fast track to bankruptcy, Idahoans still have the will and means to survive.
While federal officials continually bombard us with propaganda about “gun control” and threaten to ban various firearms, Idaho is one of eight states to pass the Firearms Freedom Act. (The subsequent lawsuit is finally getting off the ground in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this year.) The courageous law would protect Idaho manufacturers of weapons and ammunition whose goods do not cross state lines from federal busybodies. Since the U. S. Constitution does not grant the Congress – much less unelected bureaucrats – any authority over intrastate commerce in the first place, the statute is a much-needed step toward forcing the federal government to recognize the highest law in the land.
Idaho’s Proud Individualism
Back in 2004, Idaho caught the attention of the editorial staff of the St. Petersburg Times (recently renamed Tampa Bay Times), who ran a short piece called “Idaho individualism.” An Idaho jury had just acquitted a Saudi Muslim man of charges that he aided terrorist organizations. The paper noted that despite the inflamed passions of the “war on terror” and Idaho’s all-Republican Congressional delegation, Idahoans would not sacrifice fairness and the rule of law. Boise State professor Patricia Fredericksen remarked, “There’s an interesting civic culture here that resists any kind of bullying behavior.” In other words, our way of life still manages to channel the virtues of rugged, frontier individualism that so much of America has lost completely.
As America doubles down on its economic and cultural decline, Idahoans have a unique opportunity to stand defiantly against the forces of tyranny and centralization. True, we have our problems. But that’s exactly what they are – our problems. On every sound principle of law and reason, Idahoans have the right to meaningfully determine our own destiny. An old saying goes, “My country – love it or leave it!” The sad truth is that the federal government and most Americans neither love Idaho nor live here. Yet they still insist on forcing us to run our lives in accordance with their interests.
A lesson in humility and minding one’s own business is something the decent people of Idaho can teach the rest of America.