Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why is the Kansas Senate Leadership so Gutless?

Last week, we wrote about the historical actions and display of courage by the Kansas House and Governor Sam Brownback in our piece, “A Governor with Guts.”

In assessing the Kansas Senate, we can only arrive at the opposite conclusion – its leadership, backed up by a 21-member coalition of liberal Democrats and Republicans-in-name-only, is also achieving history of its own - but not for courage and shrewdness, but for arrogance and gutlessness.

Sound harsh?  Perhaps.  But, their arrogance and gutlessness was on full display today and discussed in this article “Let there be blood” in the Kansas City Star.  Two key excerpts from the article:


Accused of playing politics with the maps, Sen. Tim Owens angrily said he was tired talking about that "garbage" and stormed out of the committee room.


Meanwhile, conservatives were agitated because Senate President Steve Morris and Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler did not attend the meeting to discuss to the maps.

Sadly, as the article goes on to discuss, this debate over maps has spoiled over to the budget, taxes, and school funding.  Basically, the children are in charge, and Kansas is being held hostage in the process.

Now, before we go forward, let’s be clear – there are many in the Kansas Senate working diligently to actually improve Kansas.  Senators like Mary Pilcher-Cook, Julia Lynn, Ray Merrick, Rob Olson, Ty Masterson, Steve Abrams, Garrett Love, Rob Olson and others are using every tool in their toolbox to attempt to overcome what is a narrow, shrill, desperate liberal majority forged together by 14 RINOs and 7 of the 8 Democrats.

Politicians with courage would pass a respectable map as close to the current districts as possible in a timely fashion, close out the session quickly, and move onto the campaign trail and actually try to defeat their opponents by defending their votes and beliefs.

Not this bunch.  Instead, they have opted to stand in defiance and blatantly and shamelessly draw a map which protects their power by radically redrawing some districts while at the same time gerrymandering out their own political opponents!

Come to think of it, this coalition of cowards may want to consider forming their own party with a chicken as its symbol.

In all seriousness, their actions do beg the question-- what exactly are they afraid of?

At its surface, this debate over maps seems nonsensical.  Remember, it is Senate conservatives who have attempted to pass a map that is quite close to the current map – a configuration which has brought us two decades of moderate-to-liberal leaning leadership.

Therefore, if Kansas really was the moderate state that Morris, Emler, Vratil, Owens and their allies claim it is, and its citizens really embraced their views – wouldn’t their reelection be virtually assured?  Particularly given the fundraising advantages that come with being in power, conventional wisdom, history and a basic political analysis all say that Morris and friends should be able to crush most any challenger.

Or, could it be that after two decades of failure, on everything from school finance to job growth to our excessive rate of taxation, and after the 2010 election which ushered in four conservative congressmen, a conservative House and five conservative statewide officials, that Senate leadership is afraid they might be turned out of office?

Could it also be that after 20 years of using the “fund education” strawman as their chief political weapon, the people of Kansas have caught on to the notion that doing the same thing repeatedly doesn’t produce different results?
Could it also be that the Kansans want their government to actually be smaller?

Could it be that Kansas is truly a pro-life state?

“YES”, of course, is the answer to each of these questions – which is exactly what Steve Morris, Jay Emler, John Vratil, Tim Owens and their friends are afraid of – they fear they will actually lose, and lose big, and the only way to stop the oncoming conservative train is to succeed at gerrymandering their way to victory.

But, there’s more to it – because if conservatives were as extreme as the Senate leadership claims, wouldn’t Kansans just turn around and usher us out of power in four years, thereby setting back conservatism in Kansas for a generation?

Or, perhaps not.
  Perhaps Kansans might like what they see, and our place as a truly red state will be cemented for a generation.

See, conservatism, on a grand scale, has never really been tried in Kansas.
    Prior to Sam Brownback, we had 8 years of a liberal Republican governor followed by 8 years of a liberal Democratic Governor.  While the House for points in that history was modestly conservative, the Senate has always been quite moderate, even when it had a large GOP majority. 

The consequence of this has been liberal policies.
  We’ve been the abortion capital of the world.  We’ve been taxed to death.  There is no choice in our school system due to a death grip by the NEA.  Our government, until recently, grew each and every year.  Our bizarre judicial system, handpicked by trial lawyers,  is the most liberal of any state in the union.   We couldn’t even pass the Health Care Freedom Amendment out of the Kansas Senate, for heaven’s sake.

Now, those things are starting to unravel, and Kansans are getting a taste of the opposite and they like what they see.
  They imagine Kansas as a place of economic prosperity, where sales and income taxes are low, where jobs are created, where regulations are few, where government is limited, where competition thrives among schools, where liberty is protected, and where the sanctity life is cherished.

That, of course, is what Morris and company are afraid of:  Kansans, as a whole, will like that “new” Kansas, and once they get a full taste of it, there will be no going back.

So, rather than defending their votes and beliefs on a battlefield of ideas -- the coalition of 21 Senators is essentially conceding defeat in the hearts and minds of the electorate, and instead clinging onto their power
through some clever displays of geography on a map that Kathleen Sebelius would love.

In the process, they’re embarrassing the state and exposing themselves as what they are – arrogant leaders who lack the courage – the guts -- to take their case to the people they claim to serve.