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Coalition speaks out against political extremism in Idaho

Defend and Protect Idaho members encourage Idahoans to thoroughly research candidates before voting in Tuesday’s general election.

BOISE, Idaho — Respect – something former Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney believes today’s political climate lacks.

“Let’s get back to respecting each other,” Raney said.

Last winter, Raney started Defend and Protect Idaho, a political action committee, to combat political extremism in Idaho. Voter intimidation and violent protests are just a couple examples.

He said they formed the coalition to give a voice to those who do not condone “lawlessness” and “threatening behaviors.”

The coalition is made up of law enforcement, military, faith leaders, farmers, ranchers and small business owners. Tom Shuler, military veteran and former Boise police officer, said we are extremely lucky to live in Idaho.

But protecting democracy takes work, he said.  

“I want to make sure that we don’t turn into something that I’ve seen when I was in the military oversees, where it’s just a very sad situation where rule of law really means nothing," Shuler said.

The general election is less than a week away. Shuler and Raney both encouraged Idahoans to extensively research their candidates. They said making educated choices is critical to combatting political extremism.

“There is a lot of hidden potential extremism out there,” Shuler said. “Folks who, you know, could potentially be allied with extremism and violence that we don’t want to see happen here.”

Extremists are a very small percentage of the population whose primary goal is to intimidate people, Raney said. He wants to encourage everyday Idahoans to speak up against extremist groups.

“The reason that people move here is because of that quality of life,” Raney said. “That means that we don't tolerate this extremism, the threats, the behaviors where people feel intimidated and don't feel they can speak out.”

Raney said it is fairly easy to figure out who the candidates with extreme beliefs are, and that Idahoans should vote for politicians who are willing to sit down and listen.

It is not about which political party people support, he said. It is about supporting politicians who represent diverse views and lift others up. Because at the end of the day, simple respect goes a long way.

“That's how our, our system of government was built, was that debate, that discourse that happens respectfully in our legislatures and in our communities,” Raney said. “Support those people, respect others, be tolerant and be willing to listen."

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