Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ranting On...Voting Against Your Self-Interest

Gov-elect Matt Bevin (R-KY)
MSNBC recently did an article about the impending governorship of one Matt Bevin, the newly-elected head of Kentucky, who will succeed popular outgoing Democrat Steve Beshear.  Bevin, despite an erratic and universally-panned campaign, managed to beat Attorney General Jack Conway, who after losing competitive races for governor, Senate, and the House, may be the most loathed Democrat at the DNC this side of Martha Coakley.  In the article, MSNBC was wondering about whether or not elections have consequences (spoiler alert: they do), and detailed the story of Dennis Blackburn, a man who is on the Medicaid expansions that Steve Beshear accepted as governor, that Jack Conway ardently supported keeping, and that Matt Bevin wanted to do away with.  Blackburn has a serious liver disorder, and his treatment is paid for by the Medicaid expansion; he is also currently unemployed.  It's likely that without this sustenance, he will not be able to pay his medical bills, and there's a good chance he will die.  This is the sort of thing that attack ads are made of, and one wonders why Conway (and quite frankly, every Democrat in the country who is running for governor against someone who doesn't support the Medicaid expansion) didn't run someone like Kentuckian Blackburn in his ad campaigns.  One would think that if Conway had been able to get more voters like Blackburn to the polls, he'd be governor and we wouldn't have this potential catastrophe for Medicaid patients who might well lose their coverage if Matt Bevin lives up to his election promises.

Except, of course, that there's a problem here: Dennis Blackburn, the man who could die if Matt Bevin takes away his health coverage as he promised to do throughout his entire campaign, voted for Matt Bevin.  You read that right-Dennis Blackburn voted for a man whom he is now chastising for not having compassion for his condition.  Blackburn stated that he thought Bevin, a businessman, would better get jobs to his area and that he wasn't a "career politician."  As a result, he skipped Conway on the ballot and went for the victorious Bevin.

There are a lot of moments in my head where I really want to say, "there must be more to the story," but it doesn't appear like there is.  Blackburn was quoted for the MSNBC article, and there doesn't seem to be a lot to indicate that anything is inaccurate here.  One wonders, then, how Blackburn could unleash what could well be a literal self-inflicted wound here.  I get that people have to make decisions when they vote that aren't always easy; I frequently say the only way you can vote for someone you agree with 100% of the time is to vote for yourself, and even that's not a guarantee you'll like everything your candidate does, but this is literally life-or-death for Blackburn.  If Jack Conway followed through with his campaign promises, Blackburn might not like some of the economic decisions he made, but he would still be ensured health insurance as Conway was vehemently against repealing the Medicaid expansion, but with Bevin he is going with a man who made repealing Obamacare and the Medicaid coverage the centerpiece of his campaign.  You can hardly say that this was something that Blackburn was blindsided on or that Bevin changed his mind in office; in fact, if Blackburn gets to keep his coverage, that would be the flip-flop here.  Blackburn's now begging for his insurance after realizing buyer's remorse, but man did he seem to have bet on the wrong horse here, considering his life is literally at stake.

We're taught to not condemn anyone, but I'm sorry-I don't feel bad for Dennis Blackburn.  I just don't, period, full stop-he doesn't deserve what's coming to him, of course, but I cannot muster any sympathy for his predicament.  He had a choice, and it wasn't one that he went into uninformed-everyone in Kentucky knew that Matt Bevin had campaigned against the Medicaid expansion and wanted to eliminate it.  Dennis Blackburn didn't accidentally vote for Bevin or make a mistake-he knew exactly what the consequences of his actions were, and so did any other Medicaid patients who voted for Bevin or could legally vote and skipped voting.  Who I do feel impossibly awful for is the Medicaid-expansion patients who voted for Conway, hoping to keep their health benefits, or those impacted by the law that weren't old enough to vote.  These are the people who deserve our pity, who deserve our prayers that Matt Bevin changes his mind, as they were just condemned by their fellow citizens to a series of potential financial and health hardships.  Dennis Blackburn, though, doesn't deserve our pity, no matter his protestations.  I'm sick-and-tired of apathy about elections, or forcing someone else to clean up after your own mistakes.  Blackburn was given a choice, and it's worth noting it's a choice that only came about due to Beshear and Conway taking on grave political risk considering the president's approval ratings in the Bluegrass State, and he thought he could have his cake and eat it too, and he was wrong.  He is the same as the gay man who complains about not being able to marry but still voted for an anti-gay politician for tax reasons or the woman who complained about not having equal pay but voted for a candidate who stood against Lilly Ledbetter because she wanted looser gun laws.  And let's be honest here-neither of these issues are as life-and-death as Blackburn's issue of, well, life-and-death.  I am floored by his stupidity, by his overwhelming hubris, and am actually taken aback by it which I didn't think I could do anymore in politics.  That being said, I don't pity him.  He knowingly made his bed with Matt Bevin, and now he has to lie in it.  I just hope, for the sake of others, that Dennis Blackburn didn't condemn others to die as a result of his idiocy.

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