Back in the 1980s, during my attorney general days, Idaho had a healthy two-party system. There were about equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature. While legislators of either party advanced competing policies, they were willing to work across the aisle to move the state forward. Compromise was not a forbidden word. Extremism rarely raised its ugly head.
What a difference several decades can make. Now, we have very few Democrats in the Legislature and, consequently, no check on unbridled extremism. The lopsided Republican majority is loosely divided into two warring factions. On the one side are the extreme right-wing Republicans, who thrive on meaningless culture-war issues. On the other side are traditional Republicans, who try to address the state’s real-world issues.
I served with two Democrat governors and, while there were occasional disagreements on the correct interpretation of various laws, we worked cooperatively. Back then, a Democrat had a fighting chance of winning a statewide office. It is a remote possibility at present.