Now that the legislature is over, my outrage at the Republican attacks on Medicaid expansion is losing its edge.
It had to be hard to have angry people calling and emailing daily demanding legislators vote against their own philosophy and beliefs. Imagine being barraged with complaints over your best efforts to limit Medicaid expansion after you’d spent years trying to make voters understand that becoming reliant on government harms people–and costs the rest of us money.
Every election voters elect Republican representatives because they are Republicans–dedicated to shrinking government, lowering taxes, and increasing access to guns. Then, when these men and women get to Boise, people pressure them to act like Democrats–supporting healthcare for all, “Add the words,” an increased minimum wage, etc.
And Republican attempts to explain their beliefs and principles were jeered by their own supporters.
This year a legislator took pains to explain that the Founding Fathers established a republic where laws are made by representatives, not unruly mobs; instead of understanding, people grew even more incensed that they weren’t being listened to.
Another legislator explained that Proposition Two supporters weren’t adequately informed about repercussions of Medicaid expansion–and people got angry over being called ignorant.
Idahoans support Republican politicians and Democratic issues. It’s obvious how this hurts Democrats–they make up only 20 percent of the legislature.
But I’ve never before realized how tough it is on Republicans.
After all, Republican legislators haven’t been wishy-washy about their stand on Medicaid expansion. After six years of citizen action, only a handful supported it.
Yet, last November thousands of people voted for Medicaid expansion and Republican representatives.
Consider Senator Jim Rice, Caldwell. He said he ignored people crowding hearings in Boise because he found support for limits on Medicaid expansion among voters at home.
His world at home must be limited. There were only enough “no” votes in District 10 to get Rice 37 percent of the vote. He won because 3,000 Proposition Two supporters voted for him in spite of his opposition to Medicaid expansion.
They chose Rice as their representative on an issue he opposes on principle.
And that happened in most districts across the state.
I have to admit I haven’t been able to work up the same sympathy for the Republican attack on ballot initiatives.
They were so willing to repeat the same, faulty arguments over and over.
Republicans argued that it the U.S. Constitution gives representatives the exclusive power to make laws while ignoring that the Idaho Constitution guarantees the rights to initiative and referendum. (Who knows what the Founding Fathers would have done if they’d had railroads and telegraphs.)
And even in his veto, Governor Little gave lip-service to the claim that requiring signatures from more districts would give rural representatives a greater voice–ignoring the fact that rural voters, along with the rest of us, would lose out on voting for citizen-backed issues like Medicaid expansion once it became impossible for citizen-backed issues to make it on the ballot.
And the argument that fear of an initiative on legalizing marijuana drove Republicans to vote for requiring more signatures in more districts in less time, glosses over the fact that big money–like the marijuana industry–can hire all the people it takes.
The anti-initiative bills was aimed at limiting the voice of the “unruly mob,” not of the moneyed.
Will voters react by voting against Republicans?
That would seem logical, but I won’t get optimistic until I see some serious candidate recruitment. After all, tens of thousands of Idahoans who voted against the Luna laws and watched the legislature reinstate them bit by bit, still vote Republican.