Gregory Graf: Idaho Politics, Extremism and a Candid Conversation on the Political Landscape

All right, lets get into the thick and fast of things. Idaho, famed for both its stunning scenery and its famous spuds, found itself in quite a bind. This isn’t about potato-farming gone awry. We’re veering into the twisty terrain of politics–specifically, the spicy topic of extremism making its home in Idaho’s political landscape.

Gregory Graf was the person I talked to. Imagine someone so engrossed in American politics and trends, he might even be dreaming about election maps. Greg’s watched extremists across the U.S. He has a particular fondness for Idaho. Why? Idaho attracts certain extremist ideologies.

Greg says it straight up: “Idaho… isn’t about tea drinking conservatives discussing tax cut. More is brewing.” He says that although most people in this area tend towards conservative traditional values (think applesauce with less sugar), some are dancing to another tune, a song that can sometimes be extremist.

Why Idaho you may ask? Greg shares his thoughts on our topic. Idaho has a fierce and unconditional love of freedom, just like my grandmother loves her lasagna. It’s not just people who are attracted to liberty, but also those that want the smallest government possible.

It’s another world on the web, where anybody can act as anyone and anywhere. Idaho extremist groups have made social media their stage. They can express their views without ever leaving their comfortable hideouts.

Idaho politicians, however, seem to be singing along with these songs. Or at the very least, they are tapping their toes to them. Greg pointed out that there’s no need to label someone an extreme just because they haven’t recycled or are concerned about taxes. The issue is identifying when someone starts to paint in darker shades and goes outside the bounds of good political discourse.

How should we approach this situation? Greg thoughtfully scratched his beard. In his opinion, conversation and education are our shields and swords to combat extremism. First, teach them how to tell when a healthy level of skepticism is being used for conspiracy theory fabrication.

What is the second step? Step two? Greg thinks to himself, while gazing into the distance (or his backyard), that “extremism is a love of loneliness.” Through genuine dialog, we could pull some individuals back to the community.

Greg finished our talk with this nugget: “Democracy needs warmth, time and effort to be successful.” Fighting extremism does not mean shutting down all the voices who don’t agree; rather, it is about having everyone contribute their voice in a way that builds democracy.

You can now get a glimpse into Idaho’s battle against political extremism by reading my insightful chitchat with Gregory Graf. Although there’s a lot of work ahead, it’s evident that we need to find ways to make our political dialogue more palatable. Your minds wide open as we seem to be in for an exciting ride.

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