Mayor Bieter’s health care resolution may be the most politically stupid and inappropriate action of his entire Mayoral reign. I’ve been a critic of the Mayor since the Ten Commandments, but looking at this Health care resolution, it may take the cake in several categories of poor management.
First of all, while the city has a right to pass a resolution about anything, voting out a bill favoring the Public Option is unnecessarily divisive. The Council itself split 3-3 on the vote, before Bieter cast the tie breaking vote in favor, and the public as a whole is divided. This isn’t like a small liberal town in Vermont voting to recommend impeaching President Bush, rather this is a city council in a politically divided large taking a stand on an issue that has far from unanimous public support.
The nature of the City Council itself doesn’t inherently lend itself to controversy. The City’s proper functions are managing various public accomodations: libraries, parks, a sewer system, public works, basic non-partisan stuff that’s unglamorous but needs to be done. It shouldn’t matter who runs City Government, because the issues aren’t partisan. Yet, Bieter and company have made partisan hey of city government, this just being the most brazen example. At a fundamental level, Bieter is deepening the divisions within the Community.
What makes this point the divisiveness is that its divisiveness without a point. Will members of Congress change their minds because the City of Boise spoke out for a public option? No. In fact, it could only be hubris that would lead him to believe that anyone outside the City of Trees gives a darn about how the Boise City Council votes on health care.
But will this inspire liberals in Boise’s North End to come out in numbers to support the Mayor’s friends in the next election? Boise’s North End liberals always turnout in numbers that couldn’t be much higher for an off-year municipal election.
However, what it could do is inspire Bieter’s opponents to come out in force. We are six weeks out from the next City Council election. The challenge with these sort of elections for conservatives is to: 1) make conservatives think about city government, 2) get them to realize an election is coming up, and 3) get them to care enough to do something about it.
In this case, Bieter has done conservative challengers for City Council the biggest favor he could. He’s riled the Tea Party groups, who it would have been a struggle to get to care about a City election. He’s given conservatives a big opening if they’ll take it.
It seems to be like a perfect cube. It feeds division, accomplishes nothing practically, accomplishes nothing for the mayor’s supporters politically, and emboldens the Mayor’s political opposition. It’s a move with no net positives unless the Mayor’s trying to kiss up to the President for a job in the Administration.
Otherwise, I have no clue what the Mayor hoped to gain by this vote. Unless, he was thinking that Boise’s an all-Democratic city where this type of thing will have no consequences, and no risk of backlash. It’d be nice to figure out what made the Mayor think this was a good idea.