August 12, 2010

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if the White House was deaf to what the people of the United States really want?

Sounds to me like President Obama may not have heard what Missourians said last week when more than 70% of voters said no to the federal healthcare plan.

It is painfully obvious that his press secretary, Robert Gibbs didn’t get the message. After reading his remarks on the topic there is a piece of universal sign language I'd like him to see.

During his August 4th press briefing, the White House press secretary was asked to talk “a little bit about the White House reaction to the vote in Missouri last night against a federal mandate for insurance.”

Gibbs stated “A vote of no legal significance in the midst of heavy Republican primaries.”

The reporter then asked “what does it tell you, though, in terms of what...”

Gibbs prematurely ended the question with a one-word reply. “Nothing.” Which drew some laughter from the press pool.

I’m not laughing.

Gibbs was right, there was heavy Republican voter turnout in the Missouri August Primary Election. If you buy his logic, 7 out of 10 people voted for Proposition C and against the federal health care plan, and chalk it up to partisan politics.

But excuses are like... well you know the rest of the saying. While Gibbs wants to shrug this off as more evil doings by those trouble-making Republicans, I’d like to delve a bit deeper into the numbers.

But before I do that, I just have to say, regardless of whether we are Democrats or Republicans, if 70% of Missourians vote one way or the other, it is a slap in the face to have the White House say it means NOTHING.

I guess Gibbs wasn’t worried about insulting us Republicans, which according to my calculations did represent about 64% of the ballots cast in the lone state wide race, which had candidates from both parties vying for that high-profile job as state auditor.

They say you can make statistics say anything. (I guess I’m making a bold assumption he actually read the election results before commenting on them since the administration has a track record of publically denouncing state efforts before ever even reading them). The White House wants us to believe that Prop C passed by overwhelming numbers because the primary was slanted toward Republicans.

I would suggest that the Primary was slanted toward Republicans because of Proposition C. I for one do not believe that the auditor race brought out Republicans - Proposition C did. More than 100,000 more votes were cast on Proposition C issue than on the state race, so it appears to have taken top billing in the election.

Another concept that Gibbs may want to consider is that voters can pick the ballot of their choice. So just because someone voted a Republican ticket, may not mean they are truly a Republican.

At the local level, most folks don’t give a hoot if a candidate for county clerk or presiding commissioner is a Republican or a Democrat. That said, if there is a contested race or two at the county level, most voters will pick the ballot where they can vote on said races, regardless of their own political affiliation. I know a lot of Republicans in Scotland County took a Democrat ballot to vote on the local races.

That means that just because 64% of the ballots cast in the primary were Republican ballots, it doesn’t mean that 64% of the voter turnout was Republican.

And even if it really was, who cares? People opposed to the federal health care plan voted overwhelming against it. If there are a bunch of Missourians out there who are for it, they should have got off their duffs and voted down Prop C.

Maybe the administration’s dismissive attitude toward the entire referendum is why proponents of Obamacare apparently stayed home last Tuesday.

Will they stay home in November too? I don’t think it is going to matter. Still, I hope the state has better than the 23% voter turnout seen at the primary, because I don’t want the losers to have a similar built in excuse when a vote of legal significance will say a whole lot more “nothing” and send them packing.

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