No Organization is More Important to Idaho Conservatives than Idaho Freedom Foundation
Credit: Idaho Freedom Foundation
IFF President Wayne Hoffman
Idaho conservatives are in a much better place than conservatives in other states because we have the Idaho Freedom Foundation to provide policy and electoral leadership.
Frustration with establishment Republicans has been evident since Donald Trump’s capture of the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. Candidate Trump questioned how Republicans were ignoring immigration, were wedded to the dogmas of free trade and free markets, and were unwilling to explain foreign policy failures of the post-Cold War world. Trump’s manner also challenged establishment niceness—as he would call out “fake news” in the media or bring up issues that people had long considered dead.
Conservatives in the states also need vehicles to express frustration with establishment politicians. They want to “primary” establishment “RINOs.” They want to push policies in accordance with Trump’s agenda. Many states, especially smaller states, lack vehicles to do either of these things.
There was a very disorganized effort to throw out establishment Republicans in Indiana. They deserve to be thrown out, after all, since the Party has not really improved the lot of the average Indianan. May primaries were a miserable failure.
South Dakota had June primaries where conservatives had legitimate concerns about establishment commitment to their issues, but candidate recruitment and messaging lagged. Insurgent candidates did not succeed in picking off establishment candidates. In fact, most lost without cracking 35% of the vote.
Montana was in the same situation, where very few insurgent candidates could knock off establishment figures in legislative races. Fewer Montana incumbents faced contested primaries, in fact, in 2022 than in 2020.
All of these are red states. Yet neither Montana, South Dakota, or Indiana have a state-wide think tank. None of the three states therefore have a vehicle to organize and lead public opinion.
Idaho does have such a vehicle. IFF can help candidates--and anyone else interested--dive into policy areas. Candidates can use these policy ideas in their campaigns if they choose. IFF’s Action arm can help inspire legitimate candidates and spread the truth about the failed records of incumbents. All of this has been invaluable. Every Idaho conservative should thank IFF’s policy arm and its political action arm.
Idaho conservatives should not overstate what was accomplished in last May’s primaries. Even IFF must recognize the failures of statewide candidates and adjust accordingly. Yet the solid victories in the state senate and the house of representatives, where, combined, more than a dozen incumbents were defeated and many establishment types went down to defeat, would not have been possible without IFF’s leadership.
Second, IFF also has the prudence to lay aside tired arguments when they do not resonate with the public. Its leadership in criticizing what its scholars call Critical Social Justice is unique among state think tanks. IFF took a path that few think tanks are willing to take and it is a national leader on the issue.
IFF is part of the State Policy Network (SPN), a group of conservative, libertarian-leaning state think tanks around the country. Very few think tanks in the SPN are willing to take on critical race theory and queer theory. Indeed, only Maine's SPN, Maine Policy Institute, has been willing to join Idaho in making critical social justice a key part of its research and policy agenda. Maine Policy has actually contracted with IFF for help in this undertaking. IFF has also contracted with non-SPN think tanks in North Carolina and Tennessee to achieve substantial results.
IFF has commissioned three reports on critical theories at Boise State, University of Idaho, and in K-12 Education. Look at idahofreedom.org. Articles about government support for these false and detestable ideologies abound. “The Higher Education DEI Takeover Will Not End Until This One Major Problem Is Fixed.” “Idaho Medicaid Should Expressly Ban Sex Change Treatments.” “Idaho Should Adopt Social Studies Standards That Teach Kids About Birthright of Liberty.” Many, many more articles are there. IFF's new Center for American Education, headed by Anna Miller, is aimed at informing the public about the corruption of our education institutions and pursuing plans to break up the public education monopoly with school choice.
Many Idaho conservatives complain that our Republican governor ignores the big issues of the day, unlike Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Idaho conservatives have DeSantis envy. IFF is not ignoring the DeSantis agenda. In fact, its scholars and action committee are pushing the DeSantis agenda every week. Few other think tanks are doing that. Invaluable.
Much honor to IFF—who, in the struggle to keep Idaho a great place to raise families and maintain the American way of life, has the courage, foresight and capacity to organize Idaho conservatives and to pursue concrete policies to help secure a better life for all in the state. IFF is an irreplaceable asset to the conservative movement in Idaho going forward.