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Last week I got a peek at a private survey that said 53% of Idaho Republicans rated critical race theory (CRT) as one of their top concerns.

CRT in Republican-speak is coming to mean letting students hear of how hard it’s been for workers, women, blacks, Jews, Indians, etc. to achieve equal rights. Some of those opposed support the rights but want everyone to believe Americans have always been just and wise. And some actually oppose the rights–the idea of a black president still angers them.

CRT didn’t rank high with Idaho Democrats and independents.

“Having a well-educated workforce and giving children the tools they need to succeed” ranked third with Democrats (67%) and sixth with independents (41%). It didn’t show up in the list of Republicans’ top six issues.

Soon after, I got a survey from Rep. Russ Fulcher and looked forward to sharing my top three issues with him — only to find I couldn’t support any of the options listed.

I was drawn to “Reform education,” but I’m not sure what that means to Fulcher. Maybe it refers to CRT? Or Common Core math? Maybe, mandated testing? Or more or less online instruction?

Some of the decades-old options were less confusing. “Balance the budget” means cutting social programs while increasing military spending and corporate subsidies. (Republican presidents have increased the national debt more than Democratic ones.) “Defend the 2nd Amendment” means allowing everyone to carry every type of gun everywhere. And “Secure the border” means to do whatever it takes to keep foreigners out whether it’s against international law or not.

I did feel the need to check the Idaho Republican Platform to be sure what “Defend family values” means to a Republican.

The first of three sections calls for government “to reinforce parental responsibility” and for “a tax system that strengthens a family’s economic ability to care for and support its members.”

That last is confusing. If Republicans cared about a family’s economic ability, they’d support increasing the minimum wage, upping the homeowners’ exemption, and ending the sales tax on groceries. They might even provide incentives for constructing more housing for those with low incomes.

No, Republican concern with family economics exists primarily to justify lower income and corporate taxes for the richest of us.

The other two sections support “traditional marriage” and oppose abortion.

I’d hoped for more, but perhaps the government doesn’t have much to do with the respect, concern, and shared values that help families thrive.

Among more recent issues, “End vaccine mandates” is clearest; it would prevent all of us from knowing whether clerks, agents, and medical personnel have been vaccinated.

I really would support “Restore independence” if it meant increasing our use of renewable energy and cutting waste. I see, however, Republicans using that issue to blame Biden for higher oil prices even though his program to cut carbon emissions hasn’t passed Congress. A dip in energy production followed the decline in demand during the COVID shutdowns, well before Biden took office. Now that demand has shot up, prices have increased.

Or maybe, energy independence simply means continuing billions in subsidies to coal and oil and ending regulation of methane release at wellheads.

And I could support “Election integrity” if that meant allowing same day registration and not making some citizens wait in line for three to six hours without food, water, and bathroom breaks. But Republicans in some states see it as giving a state legislature the power to overrule citizens’ votes.

Somehow, Fulcher chose not to include supporting voting rights, fighting global warming, increasing the minimum wage, and supporting low-income housing as options.

Judy Ferro, a former teacher, is a former state committeewoman for Canyon County Democrats. Email her at

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