We Did It

Dear fellow citizens and friends of the Reclaim Idaho campaign,

We did it. Two months ago, all we had was a 1977 Dodge camper, a map of Idaho, and a sense of urgency.

We knew that there were 78,000 Idahoans who fall in the “Medicaid gap”—who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance. Here’s something else we knew: In spite of the fact that 70 percent of Idahoans want to see our government take action to address this problem, our elected representatives have done nothing.

With your support and encouragement, we refurbished our old camper into a “Medicaid Mobile,” and we hit the road on July 25th. Between then and now we made 20 stops from the Panhandle to the Tetons and back again.

We made it on TV, public radio, and local newspapers all across the state. We rallied in Farmers Markets and on bandstands. We spoke to gathered crowds in cities, we knocked on doors in tiny towns, we swarmed parking lots with flyers and sign-up sheets in communities where, we were told, no one would sympathize with our message.

In every community we visited, we found overwhelming support for the expansion of Medicaid.

We heard stories of hope. We met young Idahoans determined to run for office and older Idahoans engaging in the political process for the first time. We heard stories of pain: Cashiers and cooks who lost Medicaid coverage because they went out and got a job; young single mothers working two and three jobs to cover medical bills of relatives while also trying to raise children; people who will leave this state that they love, and who will leave family behind, simply because they can’t find affordable healthcare in Idaho.

Everywhere we went, we found resounding support for the policy of expanding Medicaid. We have a green camper covered in Sharpie signatures to prove it, and the towns written beside the names are not just Moscow and Boise. They’re also American Falls, Blanchard, Blackfoot, Wallace, Cottonwood, St. Maries, Priest River, Challis, Shelley, and so many more.

On Sunday we wrapped up our final stop at the Raspberry Festival near Cottonwood. The tour is finished, but this campaign is far from over. After hearing so many stories of pain and hope, we are more determined than ever to reclaim the best traditions of this state and this country.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to share stories and reflections from our time on the road. We’re convinced that if the voters of Idaho hear the stories we’ve heard, they will demand change in 2018.

For those who have joined this campaign, we will work in the coming weeks to develop a clear plan of action for how you can make a difference in November 2018. We firmly believe that this election cycle is an unprecedented opportunity to fight for strong public schools, protected public lands, and affordable healthcare for every Idahoan.

Stay tuned, stay engaged, and most importantly of all: Keep believing that we are all in this together, and that change is possible when we organize around the values that unite us.

-The Reclaim Idaho Team


Reclaim Idaho in the News: "Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson praises, encourages public education at Reclaim Idaho event"

By Katie Botkin For the Spokesman-Review

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson speaks at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint on Thursday about the need for public education in Idaho. (Katie Botkin / Katie Botkin/For The Spokesman-Review)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson speaks at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint on Thursday about the need for public education in Idaho. (Katie Botkin / Katie Botkin/For The Spokesman-Review)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson spoke Thursday evening at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint about the importance of public education in Idaho. Robinson, a graduate of Coeur d’Alene High School who grew up in Sandpoint, credits her teachers in North Idaho for “giving me my mind.”

Robinson talked broadly about education in America, comparing it favorably to systems in places such as France. You hear, she said, “that American education has failed.” However, the fact that our country still emphasizes writing is a good thing, she said, and sets us apart from some European systems where university students sit in giant lecture halls and take exams once a year.

She critiqued the French system that “offloads” underperforming middle school and high school students into trade-focused and “professional” high schools, where it is difficult if not impossible for students to migrate to university-bound tracks.

In the United States, on the other hand, you can flunk high school, go to jail and still go on to higher education afterward, she said.

“We allow people to create and re-create themselves,” Robinson said.


The event was organized by the grass-roots campaign Reclaim Idaho. Co-creator Luke Mayville, now an author and postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, provided Robinson’s introduction.

A “proud graduate” of Sagle Elementary and Sandpoint High School, raised by a working single mother, Mayville said he was thankful for people willing to pay taxes into the system that supported him in childhood, “even if they never knew my name.”

Mayville supported Robinson’s talk with discussion of Idaho school funding. “In the state of Idaho, your educational opportunity depends on your ZIP code,” Mayville said.

If you’re born in Boise, he said, your public education opportunities are different than in Boundary County, where the school district has moved to a four-day school week due to budget cutbacks.

Boundary isn’t the only one, either – 43 school districts in Idaho have a four-day school week due to finances.

“We believe there is a crisis facing Idaho schools. It’s an underfunding crisis and it’s also an inequality crisis,” said Mayville.

Reclaim Idaho focuses its efforts on public education, health care and public lands.

“The crisis facing public schools is part of a larger crisis facing the middle class, and whether Idaho will continue to aspire to be a middle-class society,” Mayville said. “If public education is the ladder” by which people climb into the middle class, “health care costs are the primary thing that pull people out of the middle class, down and down into foreclosure.”

Reclaim Idaho will host its second event at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Sandpoint with the launch of a statewide Medicaid for Idaho tour, beginning in Farmin Park with a collection of speakers sharing their health care stories.

Read the full article here


Courtesy of the Bonner County Daily Bee

July 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | By BROOKE WOLFORD Staff Writer

COEUR d’ALENE — Luke Mayville, his mother and brother moved to North Idaho in 1992 from Oklahoma after the death of his grandfather. Mayville’s grandfather had moved to Sandpoint from California after retiring from his job as a welder for General Motors. A veteran of World War II with no inherited wealth or college education, he worked his whole life to pass down that legacy to Mayville’s family. They moved to the one piece of land in Sagle his grandfather left them to find some sense of economic stability.

“What really gets to me is to think what it would be like for someone like my grandfather in today’s America,” Mayville said. “Someone who, say, comes back from Afghanistan today, with no inherited wealth. I wouldn’t even say with no college education — I would say even with two or four years of college education — but no family ties, no strong social networks of any kind.

“Would they still be able to build that kind of middle-class life for themselves and leave that to their family?”

Mayville, a Sandpoint native, author, activist and postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, opened with this story to start the conversation about the campaign he co-founded, “Reclaim Idaho,” Friday at noon for the Kootenai County Democratic Club’s meeting at the Iron Horse Restaurant.

Shem Hanks, president of the Democratic Club, said Paula Neils, Kootenai County Democrats’ committee chair, invited Mayville to speak as part of the club’s tradition of bringing in a speaker once a month.

Mayville holds a Ph.D. from Yale University; his work focuses on economic inequality and oligarchy in the history of political thought. The Reclaim Idaho campaign launched Thursday night in Sandpoint, where Mayville and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson discussed the public education platform of the campaign. The other two platforms the campaign focuses on are protected public lands and health care for working families.

“We think education is the primary ladder by which someone — no matter what their background — can climb into the middle class, and health care costs are the primary thing that pulls people out of the middle class,” Mayville said.

Read the full article here.

KRFY Radio Hosts Marilynne Robinson and Reclaim Idaho organizer Luke Mayville

This morning I had the honor of joining the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and Sandpoint native Marilynne Robinson to pre-record an interview on Idaho's neglected tradition of strong public schools, and how we can reclaim that tradition. The interview will air tomorrow at 8:00am on KRFY's Morning Show. Big thanks to Chris Bessler and Suzy Prez at KRFY!

If you're in North Idaho, don't forget to visit panida.org and buy your ticket for our event with Marilynne Robinson tomorrow at 7pm. If you'd like to host a house party and view the event from home, we'll be streaming at https://www.pscp.tv/reclaimID.

- Luke Mayville

UPDATE:  The recorded show is now available below.

From KRFY: "Sandpoint native and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson and Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville join hosts Suzy and Chris in a talk about Robinson's experiences growing up here in the 1940s and 50s, her writing, and the effort by Reclaim Idaho to bring back traditional values in education and health care. The interview precedes Marilynne's talk about the value of education at the 7 p.m. Thursday, July 20 Reclaim Idaho launch event at the Panida Theater."


The Medicaid for Idaho Tour

Dear Friends and Fellow Citizens of Idaho,
Later this month, we'll be stepping into a refurbished camper and hitting the road to campaign for the preservation and expansion of Medicaid. We’re calling it the Medicaid for Idaho Tour. After a Kickoff Rally on July 25th in Sandpoint, we’ll be driving our Medicaid Mobile across the entire state, from the Panhandle to Yellowstone and back again. In rural communities and city centers, we will invite Idahoans to tell their stories of healthcare struggles, and we’ll call on Idaho to follow 31 other states and expand Medicaid so that every Idahoan has access to affordable healthcare.

Before we hit the road, we thought it would be helpful to debunk some misconceptions and to share five important facts about Medicaid. Today we'll share fact #1: Medicaid there for all of us, not just the poorest of the poor. To give just one example, Medicaid covers nearly half of all nursing home costs for elderly Americans suffering from common ailments such as Alzheimer’s or stroke. 

I recently visited St. Gertrude’s Monastery near Cottonwood, Idaho (pictured below) to meet with the Benedictine nuns and tell them about our Medicaid for Idaho Tour. I had a feeling they'd be supportive, but the sisters were even more enthusiastic than expected. I was surprised to learn that most of them rely on Medicaid to cover their healthcare costs once they’ve grown too old for the monastery. These women—women who have assisted others for their entire lives—turn to Medicaid when they need some assistance in return.

St. Gertrude’s Monastery near Cottonwood, Idaho

St. Gertrude’s Monastery near Cottonwood, Idaho

Medicaid was designed with the idea that no one is invincible—that even the most hardworking and the most fortunate among us are vulnerable to unforeseen costs in our retirement, to life-altering accidents that threaten us with bankruptcy, and to countless other misfortunes. Medicaid is not just welfare for the poor. It’s there for all of us when we need it. 

We'll be sharing more facts about Medicaid in the days ahead. We hope you’ll join the Medicaid for Idaho campaign. We are currently scheduling stops in Sandpoint, Coeur d’ Alene, St. Maries, Moscow, Cottonwood, Boise, Nampa, Hailey, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Driggs, and Salmon, and the list is rapidly growing.

Stay tuned for updated information about a stop near you. If you’d like to schedule a stop in your community, send us an email at reclaimidaho@gmail.com with the subject line “Medicaid for Idaho.” If you are willing and able to help us put gas in the Medicaid Mobile and cover many other expenses associated with this tour, please donate at https://squareup.com/store/reclaimidaho.

Thank you!
Luke Mayville and the Reclaim Idaho Team