Why progressives must win their struggle one state at a time, starting with Kansas
Kansas Republicans like Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bob Dole are often connected in the public mind to this state, in which they were born. These men, while politically conservative, recognized the value of pragmatism and bi-partisanship. Kansas, however, has been taken over by the more fervent wing of the Republican party. Furthermore, evidence for lack of bi-partisanship is obvious as a Democratic presidential candidate has not won Kansas since the days of Lyndon Johnson.
Hyper-conservative, Sam Brownback, who is currently governor of Kansas, represents a significant portion of the state’s conservative right. These individuals have sought to purge the Kansas Republican Party of moderates standing in the way of the maintenance of the current economic and social stranglehold which conservatism holds over state policy.
Recently, Rick Santorum campaigned on Brownback’s behalf. If nothing else, this helps to illustrate the type of individuals that Kansas progressives have been confronted with. Democratic candidate for governor, Paul Davis, has decided to run against governor Brownback. He has garnered much support from the left and from potential voters closer to the center of the political spectrum. Even moderate Republicans have given support to Davis.
In the struggle for progress, it is necessary for change agents to make their presence felt across the country. In the case of Kansas it is clear that there is much to be done. The state itself represents a wonderful opportunity to advance the cause of pragmatic progressivism in the 21st century.
1) Minimum Wage and Big Business
Sam Brownback and his legion of Republican lackeys have made it clear that a commitment to the maintenance of profits for big business at the expense of all other legal “persons” is desirable. Kansas does have a relatively low unemployment rate, however, wage earners often earn less when compared to individuals operating in similar professions in less heavily conservative states.
Kansas minimum wage is a paltry $7.25/hr. This represents the Federal minimum. Job growth in the state has stagnated. Governor Brownback’s tax cuts for big business have unequally given financial benefit to those at the top of the economic hierarchy. In short, Kansas is representative of an oppressive, oligarchical wage slavery system which artificially imposes social class through income manipulation and coercion. Progressives have the opportunity to improve the lives of lower and middle class Kansans who are unjustly discriminated against by corrupt, Republican policies.
2) Birth Control and Abortion
Sam Brownback, and much of the controlling Republican oligarchy, have shown themselves to be a continual obstacle to women’s easy access to safe and available birth control and abortion. The religious right in the state also has quite the voice in the Kansas capitol.
Brownback has even spoken favorably of groups which were partially responsible for bombings of abortion clinics and the murders of doctors during the 1990s in Wichita, Kansas. The state, being fairly rural, has also lagged far behind more metropolitan states with respect to sex education in public schools.
Abstinence is still the primary doctrine preached in much of the Kansas public school system. Progressives in office will be able to change this. Greater efforts at education and implementation of legally sanctioned birth control and abortion programs will pave the way for a more egalitarian, progressive, and efficient state system going forward.
3) Affordable Healthcare
Kansas represents a state far behind the national average with respect to providing access to affordable healthcare. In the state only portions of the Affordable Care Act have been implemented fully. Furthermore there exists a significant gap between Medicare and Affordable Care Act coverage that must be addressed.
It is also clear that Kansas has lagged behind in providing care to residents under the new Affordable Care Act. In fact, the state represents one of the least efficient agents of implementation in the United States. Progressives elected in Kansas will be able to spur change for the better in this respect. Access to healthcare American citizens is of paramount concern. Certainly Kansas, being one of the worst in this category, must be a center of attention.
4) LGBTQ Discrimination
Measures allowing small businesses and entities like hotels to deny services to LGBTQ individuals on the basis of personal, religious belief have been continually pressed by the right in Kansas. This has been supported as a defense of the individual right to freedom of religion, however, when one takes more than a quick look at these types of measures, a nefarious subtext shows its ugly head.
These types of laws, which are often fervently supported by the Kansas religious right, truly amount to nothing more than an effort to institutionalize widespread segregation and discrimination on the basis of individual sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or same sex marital status.
Some proposed measures have gone so far as to allow discrimination by fire, police, and state hospital staff on the basis of religious conviction. Furthermore, these measures would allow public parks and pools (and other publicly-funded entities) to deny service to LGBTQ individuals on the same basis. This is clearly an effort at discrimination and segregation that no progressive should stand for. The election of progressives to office in Kansas will act to, in part, initiate the complete destruction of these horrid policies.
Democratic candidates like Jean Schodorf, who opposes Republican lunatic, Kris Kobach, and Paul Davis, who is running against Brownback for governor, represent the desire for change. Progressives must recognize their potential as agents for positive change in a state that has much to offer. Radical Republicans have held power in Kansas for too long, it is time that they take a long and possibly indefinite holiday from the political arena.