From Gwen Frisbie-Fulton – “We don’t elect people to grandstand; we elect them to pass policy to make our lives better.”

Excerpts from the article: “… by my mid-20s, I was a single mom hustling jobs, balancing bills and falling asleep every time I even attempted to open a book. The dreaming didn’t stop, but ideological stands quickly took a backseat to the practical needs of everyday life.

That is where most of us live — deeply immersed in a day-to-day so carefully balanced between work, family, children and community that we don’t have much bandwidth to spare. We are navigating high rents and corporate landlords; child care costs that eat up half our wages; prescriptions that are more than we can possibly afford. We have real needs that demand solutions to today, not tomorrow.

That is why working-class North Carolinians waged a long, determined crusade to expand Medicaid in our state — and that is also why they won. Being tied down in a daily grind doesn’t mean we become apathetic: We become determined and resolved. Today, Medicaid expansion will go into effect, allowing more than 600,000 of our neighbors to finally access health care. It turns out that needing something practical like health care can cause people to wage a hell of a fight.

The need was so big, the idea so plainly sensible, North Carolinians across the state suspended their ideologies and transcended party politics to support Medicaid expansion. Earlier this year, a poll found that 78% of North Carolina voters supported it. This included 96% of Democrats, 71% of unaffiliated voters and 64% of Republicans.

Why, with this overwhelming public mandate, did it take more than 10 years to pass Medicaid expansion here? Because some politicians in Raleigh were unable to suspend their ideologies to do the thing we needed. They preached against “big government” and the “nanny state” while the rest of us just wanted to go to the doctor. They spent their time performing perfectly principled politics while North Carolinians suffered and even died.

…Still, there were holdouts. The most notable objector was Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. Even as his own party began to see the necessity of expansion, Robinson said, “I hope that it fails” (Business North Carolina, 2022) and, to this day, he opposes health care coverage for those families.

…most of us can and will gravitate towards actionable solutions over principled party politics. We don’t elect people to orate and grandstand; we elect them to pass policy to make our lives better. That’s what North Carolinians asked for when we asked for Medicaid expansion: It wasn’t glamorous; it wasn’t pie-in-the sky; it wasn’t utopian or filled with buzzwords; it wasn’t good fodder for shock jocks — it was just heartbreakingly necessary and real.”

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