There are a lot of headlines today about how a Black Lives Matter activist won a primary over a ten-term congressman yesterday. The ten-term congressman is also Black and not a bad guy, but now Cori Bush will be the first Black woman elected to Congress from Missouri. She will represent the 1st congressional district, which takes in all of the city of St. Louis and a portion of northern St. Louis County, including Ferguson. This is considered a safe seat for Democrats.
Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner, the chief prosecutor for the city of St. Louis, easily won her primary to keep her position yesterday — 60.8% to 39.2% — and no doubt will win her general election as well. Until recently she was expected to lose the primary. But then came the McCloskeys and the badmouthing of Gardner by Trump and by Missouri governor Parsons. And a landslide was born.
The third happy result in the Missouri election yesterday was the passage of a constitutional amendment referendum to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This was proposed as a constitutional amendment so that the looney tune wingnut legislature couldn’t block it with legislation.
Support for expansion came largely from voters in and around the urban centers of Kansas City, Saint Louis, Springfield and Columbia. Voters in Kansas City, Mo., for example, approved the measure by 87.6%.
Amendment 2 was rejected overwhelmingly by conservative voters in the mostly rural parts of the state that have the highest uninsured and poverty rates.
Voters in McDonald, Morgan and Scotland counties, which have the three highest uninsured rates in the state, rejected the measure by margins of nearly 2 to 1 or greater.
The key to Democrats winning anything in this state is to whip up a big turnout in the cities. I think Claire McCaskill lost in 2018 because she played it too safe, campaigning on being a pragmatic centrist, and the city voters were uninspired. I haven’t seen numbers, but I get the impression that turnout for yesterday’s primary was unusually high. This is encouraging.
And Gov. Parsons has got to be worried about his general election chances. It could be close. It was Parson’s bright idea to put the Medicaid referendum on the primary ballot, thinking that the lower voter turnout would cause it to fail.
Getting back to the mostly rural parts of the state, where people tend to be poor and uninsured — this is democracy’s great weakness, isn’t it? These people will benefit enormously from expanded Medicaid, yet they voted against it.
People of the rural areas in this state tend to be poor, uneducated, and bigoted. For example, next door Washington County, 95 percent white, has a per capita income of $18,915, it says here. 21.7% of county residents are officially in poverty. Instead of formal education, they get their heads filled with Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and holy roller preachers. Washington County voters said no to Medicaid, 63.53% to 36.47 percent. But they’ll get it, anyway. A whole lot of them really need it.
But they are just way too susceptible to manipulation because of their ignorance. I’ve seen the mailers they got to get them to vote against Medicaid expansion. Taxes will go up! Illegal immigrants will get the benefits! Government-run health care! blah blah blah.
I blame both parties for this. The Democrats abandoned the rural poor decades ago. The Repubicans do them no good, but they are able to flood rural areas with right-wing propaganda to keep them voting for Republicans. I’ve been complaining about this for years. And Washington County folks will march to the polls and vote for Trump in November.
But yesterday, at least, the Medicaid initiative passed. And maybe eventually the ones who get on Medicaid will realize it’s okay.