Idaho is the kind of place where we take care of our neighbors. That’s who we are, as became unmistakably clear when the dust settled following Tuesday’s election.
Medicaid expansion passed in a landslide. Statewide, about 365,000 voters cast ballots supporting Proposition 2. Medicaid expansion has a greater mandate to become the law of the land than Brad Little has to become governor or Janice McGeachin has to become lieutenant governor.
Thirty-five of the state’s 44 counties supported Prop 2.
In District 33, which encompasses most of Idaho Falls, Prop 2 received more support than any of the elected legislators. Senator-elect Dave Lent earned 60 percent of the vote, the highest level of support for any candidate in the district. Prop 2 earned 64 percent in the same district.
Lawmakers who are on the fence about what to do when the Legislature convenes in January should take a clear message from this: The people have spoken.
Any lawmaker who moves against Proposition 2 acts against the manifest will of the people of Idaho.
Lawmakers have lost, through years of inaction, the prerogative to make changes to the proposal. They should implement the law as written and fully fund it, and they should do it as soon as is practicable.
But the people should not take that outcome as a given. They should make sure it happens.
The opponents of Medicaid expansion have seen their defeat coming, and it would be foolish to suppose that they will give up now. Some will change their tactics. They have already begun laying the groundwork to justify attempts to reverse Prop 2 by attacking democracy.
One opponent mused ahead of the vote that the problem with voter initiatives is simple: It’s voters like you, who are presumably too uninformed to be trusted with such decisions.
Earlier this week, Mark Fuller, the chairman of the Bonneville GOP, wrote a column instructing voters that they live in a republic, not a democracy.
That’s utterly false. We are both a republic and a democracy. If we were a republic and not a democracy, representative and senator might be hereditary titles like lord or duke. There is no House of Lords here — though Mr. Fuller’s beloved party platform does call for revoking your right to vote in U.S. Senate races.
Fuller’s attack was venomous. Democracy, he wrote, was “mob rule” beset by “inherent evils.”
Why attack democracy? It’s a strategy to erect a veil of legitimacy over the illegitimate attempts to undermine the sovereign will of the people that come next.
Expect those with contempt for democracy to endeavor to undermine your decision on Prop 2. Expect schemes to pressure your elected representatives to obey them rather than you. Expect a court challenge. Expect a bill to reverse the initiative, just as happened when voters sought to impose term limits. Expect proposals to weaken expansion when that fails.
Those who pursue such strategies hold democracy in contempt.
They hold you, the voters, in contempt.
They believe that you are a member of a “mob” and that some better class of men, presumably themselves, should run the show. Don’t forget that the next time they ask for your vote.
Make sure your representatives know you will not tolerate it. Celebrate today, and get ready to fight in January.