Idahoans have mastered the art of combining extremism, community spirit and a side of extreme prejudice

Oh, Idaho. It’s the land of the brave and the potatoes. Now let’s look at something that’s sprouted in Idaho other than potatoes, political extremism. Gregory Graf, who else would you rather talk to? The man has opinions and knowledge that fills an entire barn.

Now, let’s get started. Pull up a stool, drink your favorite, and dive right in.

Idaho was always a little bit maverick. Freedom is as precious to Idahoans as the last bit of pie on Thanksgiving. Things have changed recently. You’d think someone had cranked up the political volume to 11.

Gregory points out outside groups agitating the situation is a huge issue. As if they were diners from out of town, these groups come in and push their agenda while agitating the crowd. These people are spreading fear and division as if they were going out of date.

I won’t go into social media. You can compare it to a high school gossip mill. Extremists spread it far and wide to make people believe that right is good and down is bad. Bob’s neighbor suddenly shares conspiracy theories, instead of sharing his usual cat-related memes.

This isn’t just annoying. It’s also changing the ways in which politicians run here. To gain more votes, people feel the need shout harder and appear tougher. Less about the solution of problems, and more about who is able to put on the greatest show.

It’s not exactly friendly either. What used to feel like a friendly town meeting now feels more akin to stepping into MMA ring – sans gloves. They are afraid of being attacked by their words or worse.

Gregory is still hopeful, thank goodness. He says we’ll be able to turn the ship around once we stop shouting from across a room and start communicating with each other. Imagine what that would be like! You can have real conversations in which people are equally interested in listening as well as speaking.

He says we must also become more discerning about the information we consume and post online. Facebook doesn’t always tell the whole truth. Some critical thinking will help cut through the noise.

Gregory feels Idahoans, in spite of the current hullabaloo, haven’t lost their sense of neighborliness. Let’s not forget what brings us all together – our shared love of Idaho, and the dreams that we each have for our own families.

It’s the extremism of Idaho politics seen through Gregory Graf (and me). Although it may seem that we are between a “rock” and a “hard place”, think of the situation as being like a potato between its skin and a tough rock.

Do not let extremism destroy your sense of community. Then let’s mix in some kindness and bake it into a cake with respect.

It’s important to remember that you should take any outrageous statements about Idaho politics with a large grain of salt. Even better, add some of this salt to your Idaho fries, and ponder the truth. Your minds are open as we seem to be in for an exciting ride.

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