Can’t get a hearing on your voucher bill? Herndon’s answer is armed revolution | Opinion

Idaho Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, speaks to the Senate State Affairs Committee on Jan. 16, 2023 at the Idaho Capitol in Boise. Herndon introduced three bills, on abortion, self-defense laws and transgender bathrooms. (Screenshot via Idaho in Session)

Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, recently made an appearance on a right-wing livestreamed video about the virtues of the Second Amendment.

He bragged about the commitment of the Idaho Freedom Caucus to a conservative agenda. The Idaho Freedom Caucus is a far-right organization that promotes bad policy, but it was all normal stuff for a lawmaker of Herndon’s ideological bent.

He said he was confident that he and other senators of similar ideology could force a hearing on an education savings account (code for vouchers) bill in the Senate Education Committee.

But Herndon couldn’t resist an opportunity for a little chest pounding.

Why do we have a Second Amendment? For when the government so ignores the will of the people that they can stand it no longer. For when there is no other option than to cast off the chains of an oppressive government.

For when … Senate Education Chairman David Lent, R-Idaho Falls, refuses to hold a hearing on Herndon’s preferred version of a voucher bill?

“Then you have taxation without representation, and that is not the design of this system,” he declared. “And I would just remind you that, historically, Americans responded in a very particular way to taxation without representation. And we would like not to get to that point, but if it came down to it, we would. But hopefully, we’re going to have the political fight before we have the real fight.”

Because the Senate education chairman won’t hear Herndon’s favorite version of the voucher bill, we’re in a situation that is just like when we were ruled by a monarch in England. Sensible.

Herndon casually invoking the possibility of armed, violent struggle against the government is the latest in a disturbing pattern of rhetoric and action on Idaho’s far right. From Ammon Bundy threatening to meet court officers with “friends and a shotgun” to a man at a Turning Points USA rally asking, “when do we get to use the guns?” to a vanload of white supremacists showing up at the Coeur d’Alene pride festival with evident bad intentions.

Not that Herndon probably means what he said. There’s no evidence that Herndon actually wants to “have the real fight” — he just wants to be seen saying he’s ready for violence for the sake of securing votes in the closed primary, where he used extreme positions to oust the eminently reasonable veteran Sen. Jim Woodward.

I’m aware of exactly one instance of Herndon “having the real fight.” But it wasn’t in the name of liberty.

It was in 2012, when he shot his neighbor’s dog.

In the back.

While it was running away from him.

According to contemporary police reports from the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, Herndon shot the pup because he was worried it would go after his chickens. The deputy noted the dog was about 80 feet from those chickens when Herndon pulled the trigger, and it hadn’t touched any of them. It turned and ran away when he yelled at it.

And he shot the little black lab in the back as it fled.

Is this the action of a bold revolutionary? A lover of freedom ready to pledge his life, fortune and sacred honor?

Or just a kind of belligerent, cowardly person?

The kind of person who invokes the idea of armed revolution when a committee chairman won’t hear a bill. The kind of guy who shoots a dog because it looked at his chicken coop.

“I was hired by the voters in my district and so I work for my voters,” Herndon declared.

Not if dogs could vote.

Bryan Clark is an opinion writer for the Idaho Statesman based in eastern Idaho.