An editorial in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch quite sensibly observed that Proposition C was a very poor tool for amplifying the anti-Obamacare message nationally:
The megaphone is muffled when the message is “One in every six registered Missouri voters (71 percent of the 23 percent who turned out) sent a message to Washington.”
On the other side of the state, the Kansas City Star struck the same deflationary note:
…a light turnout made clear what the vote wasn’t: a sweeping referendum on health reform. An electorate seriously riled up about an issue sends more than roughly a fourth of registered voters to the polls.
The silliness of all the conservative celebratory braying is recognized even outside the state. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post put the matter very succinctly:
I’m really not sure why conservatives are so excited that an electorate primarily made of Republican primary voters passed an anti-individual mandate ballot initiative in Missouri. I don’t even understand why conservatives would be excited if it passed during a normal election. For one thing, states can’t invalidate federal laws. … . Moreover the focus on the individual mandate speaks to how weak the conservative case against the bill is. The individual mandate can be replaced. That wouldn’t be a good thing, but you could substitute automatic enrollment, or some form of lock-out..
All very rational – however, if we were living in a rational political world, there would never have been a proposition C. If you want to gauge the effect of Proposition C in our current political Bizarro World, look no further than the first page of today’s Post Dispatch.
Despite the excellent editorial, the cover story on Proposition C gave State Senator and Proposition C cheerleader, Jane Cunningham (R-Dist.7), full bragging rights. The reporter evidently felt that bringing up real, verifiable facts like the small turnout was not necessary when he could manufacture a story about how Missouri voters “overwhelmingly rejected a federal mandate to purchase health insurance.” I am afraid that this reporting path will prove to be that most traveled before this is all over.
Nor do we have to wait too long to see just how an orgy of Proposition C triumphalism is going to encourage the crazies to go even further. FiredUp! reported yesterday that State Senator Jim Lembke (R-Dist. 1) is so emboldened by the Prop C victory that he proclaimed his support for having Missouri defy the federal mandate that requires emergency rooms to treat the uninsured – which does, at least, have the virtue that it tells anyone who is interested just how mean-minded Proposition C-loving GOP fringers really are.