After Greg Gianforte was reported to have body-slammed a journalist who was attempting to interview him about his views on health care access, much of the response was exactly what could be expected. There were calls for him to apologize, his office released a statement minimizing fault, and pundits debated how this would affect the election that was only hours away.
As NPR reports, the state of Montana is holding a special election to fill a seat vacated by Republican Ryan Zinke, who is moving on to take the position of Interior Secretary. The candidates for the seat are Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte.
The day before the election, however, Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian published audio appearing to document Gianforte assaulting Jacobs, who was attempting to question the candidate on the GOP health care bill.
The attempts by the GOP and Donald Trump to eliminate Obamacare and replace it with — well, it’s not really clear what exactly — have been a point of contention that has divided the party against itself since the election. In fact, the debate even turned Trump and the Freedom Caucus against each other quite firmly for a period of time, with the President tweeting angrily at those members who refused to vote in support of his health care bill.
Feelings among Republican voters are also mixed. While Trump has promised that he will produce a bill that will provide ‘the best health care’ to every American, many of his supporters don’t believe health care is a right or that having insurance should be an obligation.
The American health insurance system has long depended on employers providing insurance as part of an employment package. Over the past few years, a big part fo the Obamacare debate was centered around whether these employers should be required to provide insurance that covers services to which the employers might have religious objections. Another portion of the debate has centered on whether employers should purchase coverage for their employees at all.
The result is a populace divided on every aspect of medical insurance: Who should be able to afford it? Who should get it even if they can’t afford it? How do veterans fit in? Should tax dollars be a part of the plan? Dental care? Mental health? Subsidies?
While it’s absolutely a partisan issue (with Democrats largely arguing for more health care access for all, with taxes paying a portion, and Republicans largely, but not unanimously, arguing that every individual should pay his or her own way) it’s very contentious even within both parties. It was a point of contention between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries — socialized universal health care vs. repairing the faults of Obamacare.
Among Republicans, too, there are a variety of opinions. With the election only hours away, Ben Jacobs was trying to find out exactly where nominee Greg Gianforte stood on the matter — something that should have been of great interest to GOP voters. After all, they were less than a day away from casting their votes for a man who they would expect to represent them in a vote on the next health care bill.
However, many voters (in Montana and across the country) turned to social media to declare that the reporter had gotten just what he deserved.
Apparently, a lot of Gianforte’s support would rather vote blind than allow a reporter actually hold a politician responsible for his positions — or even for actually communicating his positions to the public.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com