Recent editorials from Idaho newspapers:

If they won’t say it, Mr. President-elect, we will

Nov. 12

The Lewiston Tribune

President-elect Joe Biden: On behalf of our Republican congressional delegation, please accept Idaho’s warm and heartfelt congratulations upon being elected the 46th president of the United States.

In the week that’s gone by, only a handful of Republicans — including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have defied their party and President Donald Trump by acknowledging your victory.

Yet the outcome is beyond the reach of any recount. Even in the five battleground states you flipped, the margin has exceeded 242,000 votes. Your majority in the Electoral College is unassailable. The popular vote gives you an edge of 5 million and growing.

There is no evidence of fraud.

The longer the vanquished delay in conceding this election, the more dire the consequences. It breeds contempt for America’s democratic process — especially among Republicans who are falling for the conspiracy theories alleging that rather than being merely disappointing, this election is somehow illegitimate. That’s ironic given that they have accepted the results of an election that gave their party gains in the House and probably preserved the GOP majority in the Senate.

It presents our adversaries with opportunities to exploit an unsettled transition. And it could create a national security crisis. When the 2000 election results were delayed by almost a month due to the recount in Florida, it left incoming President George W. Bush with less time to prepare — and the 9/11 Commission later concluded it may explain his administration’s failure to stop the terrorist attacks.

So far, however, none of that has influenced our delegation.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, seems to be playing for time: “Counting every legal vote is vital to our nation’s core principles. The integrity of our election process is equally imperative, and the courts should resolve any alleged improprieties. I have faith in the democratic process and my fellow Americans to accept the final, certified results.”

Not surprisingly, the more partisan Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, is mimicking Trump: “Every legal vote must be counted and every nonlegal vote eliminated. Claims of irregularities must be fully examined and then decided by the courts, based on the evidence presented. Loss of confidence in the electoral system would be catastrophic for our country.”

Congressman Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, is following the same path: “If steps aren’t taken now to ensure voting processes are legal, secure and trustworthy, the rights of every American will be violated and future elections are jeopardized.”

So far, Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, — who has a reputation for bucking the party line — has said nothing one way or the other.

We Idahoans voted for Trump, but we are loyal Americans who believe the peaceful transfer of power is what makes this nation the shining “city on a hill.”

So from Crapo, we anticipate to ultimately hear something like this: “Mr. President-elect, let me extend my warmest congratulations and best wishes. I well remember the 10 years we shared in the U.S. Senate. Let us move forward in doing the work for the country we both love. Wishing you every success.”

We want Risch to express this sentiment: “While I supported the other guy and agreed with his vision for the future, he lost and you won. Let me extend my sincere congratulations. As a former governor, I understand the immense burdens that come with serving as a chief executive. I look forward to working with you in the best interests of my state and our country.”

We believe it would be within Fulcher’s character to simply say: “While the past two years have been marked by partisan recriminations, I take hope in your ‘pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify; who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States. And work with all my heart with the confidence of the whole people, to win the confidence of all of you.’ In that spirit, I extend my congratulations and best wishes.”

And finally, from Simpson — who is beginning his 12th term in the U.S. House and will serve under his fifth president — we expect to hear some perspective: “Congratulations upon a well-earned electoral victory. I trust that your administration offers this country what it so badly needs — a return to regular order and the promise that Republicans will join with Democrats to seek the common ground that has eluded us for so long.”

Why they haven’t spoken before now is for them to explain. Until then, allow us to fill in the blanks.

Online: The Lewiston Tribune


Quit listening to anti-maskers, governor, and make masks mandatory in Idaho

Nov. 11

Idaho Statesman

The city of Twin Falls this week gives us yet another reason Idaho Gov. Brad Little should issue a statewide mask mandate to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Twin Falls City Council members voted 6-1 Monday night to table discussion about a citywide mask mandate, and one of the supposed reasons was that if Twin Falls were to impose a mask mandate, that would send anti-maskers to other cities to shop and do business.

A statewide mask mandate would solve that problem. It would give cover to city officials who know that wearing a mask slows the spread of COVID-19.

Not passing a mask mandate in Twin Falls is no less remarkable for the simple fact that the city’s own St. Luke’s Magic Valley hospital is overwhelmed and has been forced to divert patients elsewhere.

St. Luke’s reported that its Magic Valley hospital had 75 COVID-19 patients as of Wednesday morning, and the hospital had to divert ICU patients temporarily and say “no” to the Elko, Nevada, hospital asking St. Luke’s to accept patients that could not be diverted to Utah, which is facing its own health care system capacity crisis.

On Sunday night, Utah’s Republican governor addressed his state’s crisis by issuing a statewide mask mandate.

St. Luke’s Magic Valley hospital went on diversion for 12 hours the weekend of Oct. 31 and for 12 hours last weekend. That meant it not only couldn’t take patients who needed to be transferred from other hospitals, but it also didn’t have room for patients who came in needing medical care.

But Twin Falls City Council members apparently were more swayed by testimony from dozens of anti-maskers who spewed nonsense, conspiracy theories, false information and a misplaced notion of freedom — and successfully bullied their public officials into making a bad decision.

We have to quit listening to these anti-maskers and allowing them to dictate public policy.

They’re wrong, plain and simple.

A mask mandate is no different from a mandate to drive on the right side of the road. We all have to follow that mandate to keep everyone safe. Is anyone crying that driving on the right side of the road is an infringement on their God-given right to drive on the left side of the road?

This is not about control. This is not about tyranny. This is not the beginning path to gas chambers or akin to slavery, as someone suggested at the Twin Falls City Council.

We have to stop listening to this nonsense.

One resident testified at Monday’s Twin Falls City Council meeting that his son had COVID-19, meaning that resident was exposing everyone in the packed council chambers to the disease.

Other speakers had the nerve to question St. Luke’s, falsely saying the health system is benefiting monetarily from the crisis, according to Boise State Public Radio.

One worker in an assisted-living facility said the residents there who died were old anyway, and “it was their time.”

How are we letting this kind of willful ignorance dictate public health policy?

As Boise State Public Radio reporter Heath Druzin noted, smart folks who don’t want to get exposed to COVID-19 likely wisely skipped the Twin Falls City Council meeting, so they weren’t there to testify in favor of the mask mandate.

Scientific studies suggest that universal mask use (95% of the population) could prevent as many as 66,000 deaths in the United States.

Three out of four Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favor requiring people to wear face coverings while outside their homes, according to a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

And yet, we let the loud, foolish minority bully us into bad decisions.

We wrote very early on that Gov. Little should issue a statewide mask mandate if for no other reason than to give local businesses cover for requiring masks.

Now, Little should issue a mask mandate to provide cover for local public officials, some who clearly are incapable — or maybe even scared — of making the right decision here.

Even though Little has pushed authority down to local decision makers about masks, we believe that Little has the authority to issue a statewide mask mandate under emergency orders.

After Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced a statewide mask mandate, 34 states and the District of Columbia now mandate face coverings in public.

For those who question the effectiveness of mask mandates, studies continue to show that such orders are associated with a decline in the daily COVID-19 growth rate.

Gov. Little has always said that he’s taking measures to ensure that Idaho’s health care system is not overwhelmed. As we can see, Idaho’s health care system is starting to be overwhelmed.

If it keeps getting worse, Little might have no choice but to move Idaho back in its reopening stages, possibly even ultimately back to stay-at-home orders like we had in March and April.

Compared with that drastic measure, wearing a mask seems like a reasonable demand.

Wearing a mask simply is the right thing to do, as Little has said many times. The governor now needs to tell everyone they must wear a mask — everywhere in the state.

Online: Idaho Statesman