On July 6, volunteers delivered boxes full of certified petitions to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot to the state capitol building in Boise.
This was a citizen-led, non-partisan effort to let the people of Idaho decide if they want affordable health care access for the most vulnerable among us. Since our “representatives” have done very little beyond wring their hands and kick the can down the road for the better part of a decade, the people are speaking out.
A few years ago, our state Legislature enacted laws that make it difficult for We the People to introduce ballot measures. They were upset that the people of Idaho had the gall to overturn some of the poor education legislation they put into effect. The fact that volunteers gathered enough signatures to prevail and put this before the people of Idaho speaks to our active and engaged citizenry.
However, even though this great task was accomplished by passionate and involved citizens, we’re not done. In “The Horse and His Boy,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “[S]ometimes your reward for doing one task well is to be set with a harder and better one.”
We’ve almost certainly got Medicaid expansion on the ballot, but the next step is to actually get out and vote for it. This is a situation when your vote really, truly matters. For years, Idahoans have told our state legislators that we want them to do something. Affordable health care and Medicaid expansion are issues that poll positively with Idaho citizens.
And yet our representatives do nothing. In fact, some have said that they will fight against Medicaid expansion — even if the ballot initiative passes. That’s right: some of our so-called representatives are willing to keep fighting against measures that will expand access to affordable health care, even if we make our will clear in the voting booth.
So, it’s not enough to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot. And it’s not enough to show up on Election Day and vote in favor of affordable health care. You also need to educate yourself about the people running for office. If you cast your vote for affordable health care access, but send back the same folks who have already said they’ll fight against the will of the people, you’ve canceled out your own vote.
There are candidates running who will uphold the will of the people, no matter how this vote turns out. Unfortunately, few of those are current incumbents. Instead, we’ve got incumbents who insist that they will fight the will of the people where it doesn’t agree with their ideology and — in at least one case — their personal business interests.
The future of our state, and even our country, depends on We the People becoming engaged in the process. We often talk about the privilege of living in the United States of America. And it is a privilege. But all privileges come with responsibilities. We have a responsibility to ourselves to study the issues, study the candidates, and vote accordingly.
Miranda Marquit is a nationally-recognized financial journalist and money expert. She is the chairwoman of the Bonneville County Democrats.
Miranda Marquit is a nationally-recognized financial journalist and money expert. She is the Chair of the Bonneville County Democrats.