Here’s a quietly remarkable story out of Utah, getting fairly little attention nationally because of all the fireworks in D.C. Last November Utahns voted by a clear if not overwhelming majority for Medicaid expansion in their state. That was Proposition 3. The state’s legislature is in the process of simply overruling that decision, passing a plan that actually costs more than Medicaid expansion and automatically voids itself if the federal government doesn’t issue Utah a waiver that the state seems unlikely to get.
The argument from state Republicans is simply that voters didn’t know what they were doing. “A majority of voters cannot overrule the laws of mathematics,” Sen. Lincoln Fillmore (R) is quoted telling The Salt Lake Tribune.
These stories are frustrating to hear. But they’re a harbinger of something else. For most of the late 20th century, the shoe was on the other partisan foot, with rightwing initiatives and referenda pushing politics to the right and state legislatures usually following them or in some cases actively resisting them. They can do that in many cases. But it’s usually a good indicator of the direction of politics for the future.