The state has been drifting red for a while now, but it is still Democratic enough that the governor agreed to the Medicaid expansion in the ACA so many other GOP-led states have turned down. And that’s why it’s so fascinating as a test-case for the appeal of Obamacare throughout red-state America. So far, the results are quite striking: the number of uninsured West Virginians has dropped by a third since the ACA became operational. A third.
Isn’t that, in some ways, the entire story of this administration? That what it has actually done – from rescuing the auto-industry to ending wars, from the stimulus to universal access to health insurance – is actually popular on the ground, but still powerfully toxic to a vast swathe of Americans. Maybe history will help us understand that critical cognitive dissonance. Or maybe we’re just ****ing complicated human beings, whose emotions – primarily fears – alternate and contradict each other with increasing impunity. Obama’s gift is his liability. He sees through the psyches to the actual pressing needs. He does not feel the way his opponents does. Which has made him far more effective and pragmatic in implementing his vision, while losing political altitude in a very emotional and ideological country precisely because of these successes.