18-Year-Old Shiva Rajbhandari Defeated a Far-Right Backed Incumbent in a Local Election

by | Sep 16, 2022 | Progress & Solutions

Shiva Rajbhandari: screen grab from KTVB

18-Year-Old Shiva Rajbhandari Defeated a Far-Right Backed Incumbent in a Local Election

by | Sep 16, 2022 | Progress & Solutions

Shiva Rajbhandari: screen grab from KTVB
High school senior and climate activist Shiva Rajbhandari won elected office in Boise, defeating an incumbent school board trustee backed by far-right extremists.

A local election for a seat on the Boise School District board has not received the national attention it deserved.

As reported by The Intercept,

The nationwide campaign to stifle discussions of race and gender in public schools through misinformation and bullying suffered a reversal in Idaho on Monday, when a high school senior vocally opposed to book bans and smears against LGBTQ+ youth took a seat on the Boise school board.

The student, Shiva Rajbhandari, was elected to the position by voters in Idaho’s capital last week, defeating an incumbent board member who had refused to reject an endorsement from a local extremist group that has harassed students and pushed to censor local libraries.

Rajbhandari, who turned 18 days before the election, was already well-known in the school district as a student organizer on climate, environmental, voting rights, and gun control issues. But in the closing days of the campaign, his opponent, Steve Schmidt, was endorsed by the far-right Idaho Liberty Dogs, which in response helped Rajbhandari win the endorsement of Boise’s leading newspaper, the Idaho Statesman.

Rajbhandari, a third-generation Idahoan whose father is from Nepal, was elected to a two-year term with 56 percent of the vote.

There is a lot to unpack in this unexpected win. Idaho is considered an ultra-right red state. But the backing of right-wing extremists in this election apparently was not even close to being effective.

There is something important here that may be escaping attention. This same lesson was learned a few weeks ago when voters in Kansas resounding rejected an anti-abortion amendment to the state’s constitution.

Here’s the lesson: The far-right is noisy. And they get good media coverage because of their outrageousness and their blatant Nazism. But they are not an actual majority.

The far-right has fostered the illusion that by their noise and annoyance factor they have far greater numbers than they actually do. This is a typical factor with anti-social bullies. They try to create the idea that they are invincible and that all should fear them and knuckle under to their demands.

The truth of the matter is that the far-right bullies and nut cases who want to put the former guy back in office, get rid of history education and bring back Jim Crow are the ones living in abject terror of their fellow man.

I encourage everyone to read all of The Intercept’s article and what happened in the Kansas vote. These wins should not be as surprising as they have been. The vast majority of people living in this country and the rest of the world are good people who care for others. This is a fact becoming more well known as the governors of Texas, Arizona and Florida are finding out as their cruelty to immigrants continues to backfire on them. More about that later.

Marty Kassowitz

Marty Kassowitz

Marty Kassowitz is co-founder of Factkeepers. He is a writer, designer, editor and long time observer of the ill-logic demonstrated by too many members of the species known as Mankind. After a long history of somewhat private commentary on a subject he totally hates: politics, Marty was encouraged to build this site and put up his own analyses as well as curate relevant content from other sources.

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