By overwhelmingly passing Proposition 2 and rejecting Proposition 1, Idaho voters delivered good news and more good news. How this happened is today’s story.
Last year a group of young people from Sandpoint saw that Idahoans were dying prematurely and sick people becoming sicker because the Legislature denied health insurance to those with incomes between about $4,000 and $18,000 a year. To end such suffering, they acted. Luke Mayville left a teaching position at Columbia to lead the charge, driving a vintage green van around Idaho like some modern Don Quixote. Who gave this the slightest chance of success?
Not only did dozens step up to devote their entire lives to the cause, but thousands enlisted to put the measure on the ballot and then herd it to a 60.6 percent victory.
Idaho Falls intensive care physician Ken Krell had laid the groundwork for Prop 2 by exhibiting the compassion’s fierce face for years. He once told legislators that their inaction was killing people. For telling the truth Dr. Krell was considered out of order.
Not without reason, we’re told our country has divided into two deeply hostile camps, abandoning the Great Middle where things get done. Prop 2 proves people are still compassionate and wise when asked to do the right thing in a kindly, door-to-door way, Trump voters happily among them. May this be remembered as a memorable act of Great Middle citizenship, an inspiration in years to come.
By contrast, Proposition 1 got on the ballot almost entirely because some of Idaho’s richest men could hire petition signers. While everyone loves horses, voters saw something like slot machines as the linchpin to the horse racing industry cause and voted 53.8 percent against it.
Prop 2 did benefit from having the right opponent. Idaho Freedom Foundation president Wayne Hoffman declared that former Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones was “pimping” for Prop 2 by supporting it. He called Gov. Butch Otter a traitor and hypocrite for the same support. Hoffman rang ridiculous when claiming people would deliberately earn less than $18,000 to become Medicaid eligible. Prop 2 proponents merrily ignored him.
Locally, voters chose idealistic younger women over status-quo older guys to lead the Ada County Commission. Eventually they will decide what to do with comatose, county-owned Les Bois racetrack. It is in a floodplain but could nonetheless be imaginatively repurposed as affordable housing or some new urban project, consistent with the plans of Garden City.
Isn’t it fun when citizen warriors in a decrepit green van win and rich guys lose on the same ballot? Fairy tales still come true.
Jerry Brady is a former newspaper publisher and a member of Compassionate Boise. firstname.lastname@example.org.