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February 28, 2014 11:39 AM Walking and Chewing Gum

By Ed Kilgore

At TNR yesterday, Alec MacGinnis used all the high-fiving going on over the demise of Arizona’s “religious liberty” bill to fret that progressives are getting into the habit of only writing and talking about fun, successful causes like marriage equality at the expense of tougher fights like, say, Medicaid expansion, where this last week’s battle in Arkansas drew vastly less attention.

I plead innocence to the charge, having followed the Arkansas story pretty closely for the last year. But then I guess we all can’t be news-cycle bloggers with the space (and productivity) to obsess about multiple issues.

There are, as Alec acknowledges, reasons for the relative indifference to the Medicaid expansion story beyond the tendency of progressives to focus on “bright, shiny objects” where the good guys are winning. I’d add a couple myself: it’s a very complex topic that is hard to write about, and it sorta looked like a backwater when the state option to deny the expansion was created by SCOTUS (at least to those—not including me—who assumed the expansion would be a brisk mopping-up operation driven by provider lobbying and a 100% federal match rate).

Still, MacGillis is right: these stories about atavistic developments in red states merit more national attention than they often get, which is especially dispiriting to outgunned progressives in those very same places.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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