Opinion

BIDLACK | Rout of Republicans comes down to their failure on health care

Author: Hal Bidlack - November 9, 2018 - Updated: November 9, 2018

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Hal Bidlack
Hal Bidlack

Last Tuesday, something important happened. I’m not talking about the election. I’m not talking about the blue wave that washed over Colorado. I’m not even talking about the Democrats taking back the House. No, I’m talking about something else.

I broke a tooth.

Well, to be precise, I broke a crown that had covered a previously broken molar. But as I chewed on a cauliflower-crust “healthy” pizza slice, I found to my dismay that I had cracked a hunk of that crown clean off.

As you can tell, I’m stoic and endure personal hardships with aplomb. With great dignity, I turned to my wife and said “owwieee, I broke a tooth!” I think I actually said “oww I bwook a ooth!” but you take my point.

But because I have good dental insurance, I toughed it out overnight, called the dentist in the morning, and by 3 p.m. I was walking out of the office, new crown in place. Bring on the salt water taffy!

And that, my friends, is why the Democrats won.

Or to put it more clearly, issues around health care are why the Democrats won, and why they will likely continue to win. And since I know everyone likes to talk about politics all time without a break, let’s start the discussion around 2020.

Nationally, the GOP has done about all it can with voter suppression and gerrymandering. The national Democratic Party has been slow on the uptake over the last 20-30 years, but they seem more on the ball now. So, I believe the next couple of election cycles will be better measures of the relative popularity of the ideas the parties put forward and less about how many polling places local GOP folks can close down (cough… Dodge City, Kansas… cough). And that should make the Republicans, like Colorado’s own Cory Gardner, nervous. Again, because of my tooth.

Exit poll after exit poll showed that voters were highly concerned about health care. And, it appears, voters remembered that the GOP tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act nearly 60 times, so their late protestations about helping people with pre-existing conditions (like bad crowns?) didn’t ring true.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Colorado as the new bellwether state. The election results confirmed this status, as we saw a top-to-bottom Democratic sweep, a movement that saw some fleeting first steps nationally last Tuesday. Which is, again, why Cory Gardner should be nervous.

By all accounts, Mr. Gardner is a kind and good man, doing what he thinks is right. I just disagree with him on, well, most everything. And so too, it appears, do most Coloradans. The blue wave that gave the Dems (it seems) control of both state houses, as well as the governorship (Hi Jared!) and several other statewide offices, would seem poised to wash over Mr. Gardner in 2020 as well. Now, lots can change in 24 months, and we have no idea whom Mr. Gardner will be facing, but I’m guessing that the Re-Elect Cory organization is thinking a great deal about my tooth. And by that, of course, I mean health care for Colorado. I predict we’ll see Mr. Gardner distancing himself from the president and finding ways to support legislation that largely mirrors the protections of the ACA.

I have long believed that the future of the Democratic Party, if it is to be successful, runs through the West in general, and Colorado in particular. We are the petri dish of politics, so get ready for a more centrist Cory. But I don’t think that will be enough. With the voters passing Y and Z, gerrymandering will be much harder after the next census, and with a Dem now in the Secretary of State’s Office, suppression of the vote in the wolf’s clothing of “voter fraud prevention” will also be a thing of the past. And John Hickenlooper, if he wishes, is very well positioned to become a very important national figure in 2020. A Hickenlooper presidential campaign would energize Colorado Dems even more, which again, is bad news for Mr. Gardner.

Look, I hate to seem like my tooth and I are taking credit for the Dem wave this year and the one that is coming soon, but maybe, just maybe, there are lots of broken teeth out there. If there are, “blue!” I mean “boo!” The future is looking Democratic in Colorado.

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.