Will Montana Democrats Bickering Over Medicaid Strategy Mean More Predictable Failure?

by lizard

Failure is often more instructive than success. Take, for example, the accumulation of failures that resulted in the big backlash against medical marijuana here in Montana.

People involved in that movement—people like Bob Brigham—should try and learn from their failures, especially when it comes to strategy. I relied a lot on the great blogging perspective of Montanafesto when it came to this issue, like this postmortem on IR-124. Here is one interesting takeaway regarding the decision to make the language of the bill confusing for voters:

Advocates can’t claim it passed because voters didn’t understand because when those opposed to medical marijuana said it was confusing, PFRNR suggested their inability to understand the ballot was a matter of them being too dumb to understand it. (Of course, it was confusing. Obfuscating, even. Everybody knows that. The crafters knew that. It was discussed as confusing since July/August of 2011 . If “confusing” was a strategy, whether it was or wasn’t a “bad” strategy might be debated. But empirically, it was a failed one. However, crafters say this wasn’t the case.)

The reason I’m bringing all this up is because I’m sensing even more failure developing from Bob Brigham’s new focus: cheerleading on behalf of the John Bohlinger campaign for Medicaid expansion.

I don’t really care how this Bohlinger insurgency ultimately plays out in the primary, but I do care about the actual people who will continue to be hurt by this state failing to find a political path for accepting these Federal dollars like all those raging Tea Party hypocrites in Helena who snatch what they can from the Federal teat while finding new ways to punch poor people in the face.

Pogie over at Intelligent Discontent wrote a post over a week ago making some damn good points about the damage of Bohlinger parachuting into this debate.

Maybe muddying the waters is the point. Maybe it’s not about advocating for a winning policy strategy at all, but instead a means of causing political damage to the future political ambitions surrounding this populist issue.

Caught in the crossfire of this unnecessary political battle will be tens of thousands of Montanans who deserve better.

What’s even more frustrating are the underlying political grudges I suspect are lurking behind this sudden tug-of-war happening over Medicaid expansion.

*Edit note: I changed the title of the post to make it a question instead, because I hope failure on this issue is not inevitable.

  1. larry kurtz

    you da human, liz: bullock fell down on this long ago.

    • lizard19

      I don’t know enough about the insider conversations going on behind the scenes regarding how to respond to this abysmal situation, I only know what I know because of blog posts and twitter fights.

  2. I wasn’t living here in Jan 2013 but I just can’t understand why the session didn’t take that federal money. Those states with their own marketplace are doing better. And you know we’ll just take that money eventually. I can’t help but feeling it might have solved more problems for Montana than it created.

    I’ve used the heathcare.gov site twice now. The first time it rejected me, saying I wasn’t eligible. Today when I tried, after deleting my old application, it worked and I could go check out the prices. I wasn’t too impressed, and can’t understand how lots of young people can make those monthly payments.

    If it’s a monthly choice between that student loan debt payment (which will never go away) and health care, I’m going to have to choose that loan.

  3. lizard19

    in case there was any confusion, here’s Pogie’s reasoning against Bohlinger.

  4. I would not worry too much about it Liz, calling for a special session and collecting signatures are not exclusive of each other. In fact, I support a special session- preferably before Christmas and will do everything in my power to bring that into being.

    Based on facts that are not secret, but are not yet widely known, it is my belief that we will get the Medicaid expansion. Now that the media noise is lower, we also stand a very good chance of getting the proposed Farms to School legislation through- redirecting 19 million USDA dollars into the Montana economy, and getting the old HB 99 through to spend some of our many millions of unused TANF dollars on school breakfast feeding programs. Another plus.

    There were also some special education dollars that were rejected on possibly ideological grounds that we need to look at as well.

    Although Pogie made some very good points about Bolinger, I am grateful that Bolinger did enter the race despite the fact that he planned to announce during the Butte Summit but he waited because could not get the party’s blessing to do so. There were others who also wanted to enter the race, women. I hear they were warned away-put in their place, so to speak.

    I will not support Walsh because he was hand chosen by the same power at the top that tied every party resource into a clumbsy Tester race and did not actively support their candidates including Bullock, McCulloch, Juneau, Lindeen and Bucy. The first four did what they did on their own strength and previous campaign experience. Bucy should have won, but she was a novice campaigner on her own so we have Tim Fox squandering our resources to hinder the democratic process in Washington.

    Walsh is supposed to be doing his job backing up Governor Bullock rather than pushing his own self interest. (that is my honest opinion)

    Last but not least, when Walsh announced his run and his platform, it sounded like it could have come from the desk of Pete Peterson. I am not sure if Black Rock is part of Peterson’s Pyramid. At the least, they are also Social Security privatizers.

    As for Brigham-he may be there simply to sabotage Bollinger’s campaign or something else. What I do know is that my recent experiences with Brigham were that he somehow managed to jump into strategic discussion points, rudely redirect to a bitchfest without leaving a reason or setting a goal then disappear until the next time he would do the exact same thing.

    • lizard19

      well, thanks for the comment—a more substantive post at Left in the West would be nice. maybe you could elucidate these facts that inform your hope we will get medicaid expansion.

      I’m going to continue worrying about this, though, because I haven’t seen much strategic competency coming from Montana Democrats lately.

  5. Frankly, Liz, I have no idea why you backed off the notion that Montana Democrats doom themselves to failure. Frankly they do. They’ve lost ‘progressives’, another group of advocates dooming themselves to failure. They’ve lost unions, many to the attrition of age.

    • lizard19

      I’m curious, because you know Montana politics much better than I do—why do you think Bohlinger is running?

      • ‘Not appreciating the back-handed ‘compliment’. I think Bohlinger is running because certain people of power told him to. Good enuf’?

        • lizard19

          I wasn’t trying to be back-handed, you do know more about Montana politics than I do. but I understand if you want to be vague, because those people of power can be pretty vindictive, from what I’ve heard.

          • I thought long and hard before leaving this response. It has nothing to do with the people in power; they scare me not in the least. It’s actually some of the folk ’round here. I have been referred to as the “Democratic Stooge” and a ‘tool of the Democratic party’. I haven’t been either one.

            I don’t know a great deal about the Montana politics as regards party insiders, but I do know a great deal about party behavior in this state. The Montana Democrats have been floundering for many years, probably since Conrad Burns got elected in 1988. What made the difference was the destruction of union power, sadly most of that in Missoula. The pull out of Champion International and the demise of the Anaconda Copper Company left Democrats serving only the will of those further to the left. Racicot finished the job with the sell-out of Montana power. I blame Reagan ~smiley~.

            For 20 some years, the Montana Democratic party has been relying on a base that is dying out. It doesn’t mean they don’t have power; they obviously do. But that power is tenuous at best. Progressives, which in Montana often always means environmentalists, have a megaphone but no one that really appeals to the common Democratic voter. Republicans have captured enough of the union vote that the Democratic base is even more split than it ever was before. Without Labor, Montana Democrats have squat. Yes, they will win Butte. But Billings? Great Falls? Missoula favors ‘progressives’ who don’t appeal to the common Montana voter. We can argue why until the cows come home, but it still won’t change the voting dynamic.

            Let me be not so ‘vague’. The people in (Democratic) power don’t know what they are doing. Brian Schweitzer will pull for his Lieutenant Governor until it is not expedient to do so. He will use operatives for that purpose. Brian wants the White House, and good on him for doing so. The money men want a pipeline. They know that Obama is attacked and weak, and they know that Montana will favor jobs over the environment. Bohlinger running serves that purpose. They have no use in his winning. They want to influence the President. Most of the money is going to Walsh, and Walsh is expected to lose to Daines, which is what the money men really want.

            The Montana Democratic party has no idea what they are doing. They just want a win. So, some folk of power suggest Bohlinger and suddenly we have a race that means nothing.


  1. 1 Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Medicaid Expansion | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] recently wrote about the squabbling inside the dem party about how best to expand […]

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