Examining politics in Idaho through the lens of ideology (i.e., conservative versus liberal) or partisanship (i.e., Democrat versus Republican) does not illuminate the more fundamental dynamics of the state’s political environment. Unlike other states that are divided on partisan or traditional ideological lines, Idaho tends to be divided between its libertarian and communitarian visions of the role of government and the place of the individual in society.
In Idaho Politics and Government, Jasper M. LiCalzi examines the complex world of Idaho politics, where morality dominates but a heartily libertarian strain of individualism keeps lawmakers from falling into the liberal versus conservative dialogue prevalent in other states. After opening with the ultrasound bill failure as a recent example of Idaho’s political culture, LiCalzi traces the influence of individuals and party factions from the 1960s through the present before moving on to the inner workings of government itself, with all its institutions and extra-governmental extensions. He closes with another recent Idaho bill concerning the topics of child support and Sharia (Islamic) law, giving readers yet another glimpse of the workings of Idaho politics and the continuing clash between the community and the individual.
Presenting a continuum of political views from an emphasis on the individual (personified by Thomas Jefferson) to a focus on community (personified by Alexander Hamilton), LiCalzi provides a new method for understanding political actions and situations in Idaho.