When I moved to Kansas in 1985 from Colorado, people often asked me why I would leave such a scenic place to come here
When I moved to Kansas in 1985 from Colorado, people often asked me why I would leave such a scenic place to come here. I did miss “Colorful Colorado” at first, but in time I came to appreciate and love the open plains, endless skies and sturdy down-to-earth people who live here. Practical, no-nonsense farmers who don’t have time for bs appeal to me.
Historically, Kansas has never been too easy to pigeon-hole politically. Sixteen Democrats, 27 Republicans and 3 “other” governors comprise our history, with the last 50 years especially being a swing back and forth between parties. I used to brag on us when we were the only state with women as Governor, U.S. Senator and Representative.
If we go back farther, Kansas was prominently on the Union side during the Civil War and we were even the center of the Socialist movement at one point in time. The newspaper Appeal to Reason was published in Girard, Kansas. Launched in 1897, by 1901 it had a worldwide reputation and the highest circulation of any weekly newspaper in the country. Each week, 760,00 copies went out by rail. Regular contributors included Upton Sinclair, Helen Keller and Jack London. In the 1912 election, a Socialist was voted into almost every post in Crawford County. These strong progressive tendencies in our history seem as if they might balance out the conservative side.
I think the current right wing extremism spreading like a cancer in our State is not natural. Somehow our people have been thrown off their usual “middle of the road” track. The biggest reason for this is the money and influence of the Koch brothers and the organizations they have founded and support with their billions in oil money. We need to be on guard against their dirty tricks. I read an analysis of the last election that said the moderates were leading by a good margin until a last-minute flood of mailings funded by Koch money went out. These mailings slandered and made inflammatory claims against the moderate Republicans and they apparently worked, because when we Kansans went to the polls most of the moderates were voted out. Now we are in a dangerous and frightening place where our most important rights and traditions are being curtailed. Voting rights, public schools, women’s health, the structure of our courts, even the cost of our food is being attacked.
If we were Egypt, our people would be out on the streets to protest and oust Governor Brownback and his cohorts. Like the Egyptians, we must work hard between now and next year’s election to find and support candidates who reflect Kansas common sense and moderation instead of off-the-charts extremism. We must talk to our neighbors, write letters to editors, register young voters, and contribute money to good moderate candidates. In 2014, we will have a chance to vote out Brownback, Roberts, Jenkins and others who are impeding the progress of our State and Nation. I vote we return to good old Kansas common sense!
Page 2 of 2 - Joy Leeper is a guest columnist and her views do not necessarily reflect those of the Morning Sun.