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Most of what you see in political party platforms and resolutions is more or less than you’d expect to see. There’s a good reason most of what they have to say generates few headlines.

Close watchers could pick out a little more than that this year from the state party conventions a week ago at Pocatello (the Republicans) and Caldwell (the Democrats).

For the Democrats, the point is of a party statement that feels a little more assertive than it has most years (a call for legalizing cannabis, including recreational, for example). You can imagine the climate of 2018 and the presidential contest of 2016 contributing to that.

For the Republicans, a couple of other types of items jumped out.

One was a proposal to make city offices partisan: Candidates for mayor and council would not, as they now do, run outside the party structure, but would carry R and D labels.

The question of what offices should be partisan has been visited periodically in Idaho; many may not know that generations ago, elected judges ran on party slates in Idaho. County officials still do, of course, though how a Republican or Democrat would differently deal with the work of a county assessor or (is there a novel in this one?) a coroner, is hard to fathom.

Idaho has 200 cities, the bulk of them small enough that the people there know the candidates quite well and have no need know party membership for a voting guideline. In the larger cities like Boise, where voting populations have in many cases gotten more competitive on a partisan level or even trend Democratic, Republicans might be wary of what they ask for.

Gold medal for the most illuminating item to hit either convention however was the Republican proposal concerning employment of people not legally in the country. The idea was to punish businesses employing undocumented workers, a clear extension of the Trump Administration immigration and deportation approach.

This one is based on the real-world point that people who come to the country illegally mostly are doing it for money — to find work — and that would be impossible if employers weren’t offering it to them. One northern Idaho supporter of the proposal (a Republican Party leader in the Panhandle) was quoted, “If your business depends on illegal practices then I call that organized crime.”

Considering Idaho Republican support of the Trump Administration, and presumably of its immigration policies, this would sound like close to a slam dunk. Except . . . what that last quote did was to describe a large portion of Idaho agriculture and food producers, which is to say a large share of Idaho’s economy, as “organized crime,” and potentially represented a dagger at those industries’ employment heart. The Idaho Republican convention certainly couldn’t have that, either.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

In this case, the irresistible object, the ag community, prevailed, mostly. The resolution proposal lost in committee and on the floor, though its backers demonstrated substantial support and clear determination.

Maybe these party conventions really can generate news sometimes.
 

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