Idaho’s California Problem

In my recent post, Assimilate, Californians, I suggested strategies for those who move here and want to go along to get along. That shoe didn’t fit a surprising number of you. Good for you. You helped me see it’s really become too tight for me too.

Ken Sande, founder of Peacemakers‘ faith-based conflict resolution, would probably call a strategy of quiet assimilation to avoid discrimination and name-calling, peace-faking. He’d call those who bluster about trying to intimidate others into being quiet, peace-breakers, and those who have the courage to face conflict and work together with others to solve it, peace-makers.

I’m a peace-maker. If you remember your Beatitudes, peace-makers are called blessed. What are you?

I meant well in suggesting new Californians assimilate, but in the process underlined to myself that I’ve been going along to get along for years. I described my frustration when Idahoans denigrate Californians but I had kept quiet anyway – doing what I felt I had to do to keep my day job. I’m retired now.

Denying my dual citizenship as a native Californian and an adopted Idahoan always left me with an incomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. California, that place that raised me, those friends I grew up with – many of whom are still there, and those I served as an elected representative are still my people. As much as my neighbors here in the Treasure Valley have become my people. I am not one or the other exclusively. I am both. Both are honorable.

Until I posted Welcome to Idaho, Ya Filthy Animals, I never paused to think about how I was handling that conflict internally. And why no one should try to make me assimilate, shut up, or leave.

Conflict resolution is an opportunity to build better relationships. We have big opportunities before us because there are Idahoans who blame Californians for everything and Californians who resent the way that makes us feel.

We’ve stuffed it for a long time, but are tiring of the assimilation requirement. We’re conflicted over our insider/outsider status, immigration, politics, religion, land use planning and growth, taxes, and much more. It may seem expedient to blame us for it all, but as long as you do that, things here will only get worse.

Speaking of worse, Idahoans, do you really understand why the ultra-conservative candidates are winning election now? Sure, new Californians, but why?

They are scared of losing another state and are political, regulatory, and economic refugees from a system they couldn’t abide. They are a powerful voting block that has begun to swing Idaho one way and another.

Because of fear-mongering and the fact that they aren’t considered legitimate Idahoans by the establishment, their votes go instead to ultra-conservative candidates who recognize their electoral value, aggressively court and whip their votes, and co-opt recently arrived Californians to Idaho’s detriment.

It’s better to respectfully engage in an honest conversation about conflict with Californians than to pretend like it doesn’t exist or continue this dysfunction. Without engaging, problems don’t get solved and we ensure the downfall of the Idaho we all love. We fail to achieve or keep our full potential.

We really need to work through the California conflict with like-minded people for the good of all Idahoans. We need strong men and women of conviction and influence, we need you, and everyday Idahoans to say enough! To stand with with each other and solve this conflict once and for all.

It will be hard work, but happens if we don’t do it? I’ll tell you what. Our streets will increasingly look like Stockton or LA or Sacramento. Our vacant land will all be developed. We’ll sit in traffic twice as long. Our kids will leave for better opportunities elsewhere, we’ll still be at each others’ throats, and we’ll all be looking for the next Idaho.

What will you do? Please take the survey and tell me how (or if) you plan to help deal with Idaho’s California conflict.


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