COLUMN: Kansas political season ‘worst we’ve seen’

Josh Rouse

I don’t think I’m jumping to any rash conclusions when I say that this political season in Kansas is one of the poorest we’ve seen in a long time.

It’s hard to pick out the worst part of the whole mess ¾ the incessant dirt-flinging between Republican senatorial nominees Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran or the fact Sam Brownback will, in all likelihood, become governor for the next four years.

Tiahrt and Moran, stuck in what seems like an eternal battle to out-conservatize the other, seem to have given up any illusions of decency a long time ago. Tom Little, an accountant from Mound City, is also campaigning for the GOP nomination in the Aug. 3 primary. They are opposed by five Democratic nominees, none of whom you know the name of. There’s a reason for that ¾ Kansas hasn’t sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 78 years, and therefore none of the Democratic nominees are well-funded or publicized heavily.

Personally, I grow weary of the ads. I find it ironic that Tiahrt and Moran attack each other by saying that the other candidate is more open-minded. Since when did voting against everything the President endorses make you a suitable candidate for public office? If that’s all it takes, I’d be happy to put my name into the race and take home the paycheck they’d be “earning.”

I also grow weary of the constant updates by supporters on Twitter, which sometimes come many times within a matter of a few minutes and often contain “news” of the other candidate lying, cheating or stealing in some fashion ¾ most of which I, strangely enough, believe ¾ and supposed attacks about each other’s families. If the constant attacks by both sides and blatant disregard for the actual issues have shown us anything, it is that neither candidate is fit to serve in public office.

We live in the aftermath of Obama vs. McPalin, where the hopelessness that so many felt for eight years under George W. Bush’s reign has been transferred to those whose biggest fear is the government taking away their guns or making healthcare affordable. We live in a world where the Republicans, lacking a candidate with the charisma that earned Obama a seat in the White House, have turned to zealots such as Glenn Beck for guidance. Don’t even get me started on the Tea Party nut jobs, whose “grassroots” approach has been tainted with undertones of racism.

Maybe it’s just my opinion, but John McCain’s shift from his moderate approach to politics to his “Maverick” persona ¾ basically a Republican puppet, the opposite of an actual maverick ¾ was one of the worst things to happen to politics since the advent of bipartisanship. And with Sarah Palin becoming the party’s solution to Barack Obama, so goes the rest of the party. It’s reminiscent of a line from “The Dark Knight” ¾ “You’ve changed things… forever.” While the moderates used to be a balance for the left and right wing wackos, now the scale seems to lean quite a bit to the right.

In order for government to properly work, specifically within Kansas, an exchange of differing ideas must take place. Simply overloading all governing bodies with the most radically conservative people available (example: Sam Brownback) is a poor decision for Kansas. Conservatives, moderates and even those dirty, tree-hugging liberals must be able to represent the residents of Kansas, not all of whom are into playing dress-up at rallies of 500 people (or, by Fox News accounts, 50,000 people).

This editorial is a call to moderates on both sides of the political arena, and even those dreaded liberals, to step their game up in Kansas. Don’t simply let conservative Republicans walk into positions of power, give them a real challenge. Make them earn their spot by being the best candidate, not simply by being the best crap-talker. Give people a reason to believe in the government again, and don’t give into the current trend of opposing everything the President says or does, simply because he’s not George W. Bush. Work on both sides of the aisle to take care of Kansans, rather than trying to get one more conservative gold-stars than your opponent. Don’t worry about making your platform a mouth-piece for the NRA ¾ worry about the REAL issues out there.

In a perfect world, conservatism and liberalism would simply fall by the wayside, and we’d be left with moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats, both able to compromise (sounds like such a dirty word after listening to Tiahrt and Moran) and both able to make up their own mind on the issues rather than following the party’s protocol, working together to make Kansas a better place to live.

There is no room for radicalism in a functioning government.