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Time for Idaho businesses to step up, lead from the front

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Mike Satz

It started with criticism of Boise State University’s first woman president. Then they attacked freshman survey classes in Boise and at North Idaho College, the main institution that trains talent and provides upward mobility for thousands of citizens in North Idaho’s most populous region. Next, if I recall, they yelled about women’s hygiene products in university bathrooms? And then it became more ominous, with legislation targeting transgender children, a move to end citizen initiatives, voter restrictions and selected, politicized attacks on funding of our beloved Idaho colleges and universities. But recently, it really jumped the shark, with a state senator decrying some of the most institutionally conservative elements in our society — big tech companies — as being liberal.

Where does this end? Look, almost every big corporation in America is a tech company of some sort in this day and age, even Coke and Delta and Major League Baseball. 

All of the attacks lead to this: Idaho is on the verge of producing students who will not possess the workplace skills — those ever-important soft skills that lead to a happy and motivated workforce — that  Idaho employers expect. The top of the talent pool that is already here, and that is extremely mobile, is beginning to  leave the state for greener (and less extremist) pastures, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract young talent to a state they see as socially regressive at best, and openly hostile to a diverse workforce and community at worst. All of this strife is because Idaho’s political machinery is enabling isolated and extremist visions from small patches of Idaho to hijack the conversation. Idaho companies know that diversity and equity are essential to doing business, to innovation, to democracy. And Idaho universities are SMART to follow the lead of industry. 

The Idaho 97 Project formed, at first, as a grassroots response to failed public health measures. However, it quickly bloomed into a response to the rising tide of extremism in Idaho politics. Anti-mask and anti-science campaigning is just one symptom of right-wing extremism gone wild in our state. Although the Project quickly gained thousands of followers across the state, it is clear that the citizens cannot combat the scourge of political extremism in Idaho alone. We need your help. Idaho is known for our business-friendly climate and remains an amazing place to live and work. But after years of  shutting down debate, defunding essential government activities, closing off primaries, attacking critics and lashing out and labeling, it’s time for Idaho companies to stand up with us. And now, with Senator Mary Souza of Coeur d’Alene’s ill-informed attack on the burgeoning Idaho tech sector,  it is clear that the fringe elements in the Legislature are willing to be anti-business to achieve their goals.

While Idaho may be experiencing an economic boom as we emerge from the pandemic, how long will that last with Idaho’s primary, secondary and post-secondary education institutions hobbled by our dysfunctional legislature? How will your companies remain competitive in an environment that is so politically toxic that it makes top talent difficult to recruit? The answer is it won’t last, and you won’t remain competitive. It is time for Idaho’s big businesses to stand up and join forces with the thousands of Idahoans across the state — conservative, liberal and everything in-between — to challenge the extremism that is running rampant and unchecked across the state. It is no longer enough to have hushed conversations with select government leaders, to focus on only your local region of the state or to rely on other organizations to accomplish your political objectives. You need to step up and join forces across the state without regard to region, party or belief and push for elected leadership that puts the interests of Idaho’s citizens and Idaho’s businesses first. It is time to lead from the front.

Mike Satz is the executive director of The Idaho 97 Project.

About Mike Satz


  1. This article is such a joke. Who the hell is Mike Satz? I didn’t even bother to look this clown up. His article does the very thing it is trying to prevent. Divide. I have yet to experience what Mike Satz is talking about. And what is this extremism? How does Mike define extremism? Does he mean anyone who doesn’t agree with him? The State of Idaho has done very well without extremism and a conservative approach.

    I loved how he said, “while Idaho is experiencing an economic BOOM…how long will it last?” Gee Mike, who knows? Everything is cyclical. Are you that naive to link a booming economy is a result of extremism? Whatever that means?

    This article is anything but uniting Idaho. It fails to acknowledge the good that has been done and highlights only the negative based Mr. Mike “Crybaby” Satz’s isolated opinion.

    And what is your version of “diversity and equality”? Does it mean that I can no longer speak out about my conservative Judeo-Christian beliefs at the workplace? Does it mean my tax dollars will start paying for surgeries and abortions I would never agree with? Does it mean I have to not only accept but APPROVE of alternative lifestyles I will never agree with in my business? That even science backs up?

    Mike you are just a blowhard that sounds like you didn’t get your way on something. Please don’t bring your trash to Idaho. Move to California or Portland, you will be happier there.

  2. I had to laugh at Craig’s post about “… taking away our Great unity and live.” and I agree with you (and I acknowledge and admire the great sincerity in your words), but in a different way: a group of ultra-conservative n’er-do-wells in the current Idaho Legislature are trying to do exactly that (destroy unity). And then they kick back and smoke their cigars and observe the chaos they have caused. It’s as if every class bully in Idaho got elected to office.

    I agree with Mr. Satz: for a bunch of folks (legislators) who tout small government and personal choice and freedom, they certainly are creating a monster and sticking their noses into our business.

  3. Elizabeth Whitman

    I don’t know Craig, but he must not be paying attention .. this is NOT the Idaho I grew up in. Idahoans are independent thinkers without the need for our Legislators telling us how are moralities should be according to them. Are education system was something to be proud of, not embarrassed from. We were not an extremism state. We are now.. we are an embarrassment to our country and our people. Most native Idahoans I know are disgusted with how our state is being run. So much so.. this Idahoan is leaving in heartbreak and disappointment. These legislators are going to run this state into the ground. The people like Craig are going to let them.

  4. I don’t know anything about Mike Satz but he obviously is talking about a totally different state or a make believe one. Because his description of Idaho is not the Idaho that I know and love nor is it for those around me. Again, I don’t know anything about this Mr Satz but I highly doubt that he is a native Idahoan. I was born and raised here. He claims we should follow science but yet clearly hasn’t looked at true data that shows thousands of people who do move away end up doing all they can to get back to their beloved Idaho community where there is love, compassion, understanding, inclusivity, community family feel, unbelievable generosity, and I could go on with much more. Please Mr Satz, don’t take away our great unity and love that we all feel and share with one another here in this great state of Idaho and replace it with division and hate. Sincerely,