Monday, October 16, 2006

What's the Matter with Kansas?

I am a Democratic living in a Democratic State. I hardly know any Republicans.

I literally do not know who elected our moron-in-chief, and who voted for him after four years of experience with his incompetence and moral confusion is a mystery to me.

I have seen some liberals and Democrats speculate that, maybe, the Religious Right will wake up, and abandon the Republicans this election, or, at least, stay home. That doesn't seem plausible to me, at all. People, who have built their lives around being fooled, don't wake up en masse. Individually, sometimes, yes, but as a group, they rely on the group to maintain their illusions; they voted for Bush because the Group insisted, against observable truth, that Bush was a good and moral man. They believe what the Group says, not their own lying eyes, because they like being part of the Group, and that's the price. No, there will be no shift there.

The people in Virginia who like George Allen, will still be very enthusiastic about him on election day. George Allen is a certifiable moron and racist. His fervent supporters in Virginia do not see those qualities as disqualifications for office.

If there is an electoral shift, it will not be among the true believers. And, it certainly will not be among the greedy rich and corrupt, who have benefitted materially from Bush. No, the shift will come among the secular conservatives, who were once pillars of the Republican Party. People, who were Republicans because they were repulsed by liberal Democrats on a gut level, not because they inhabited a different reality from liberal Democrats. Rational people, who expect moderation and realism, from their political leaders.

There's been a trickle of Republican leaders from the Republican Party into the Democratic party, in response to the failures of Bush and the increasing radicalism and corruption of the Republican Party.

If the Democrats win a durable electoral majority, it will be because they have grown a new conservative wing, a New Democratic Right. Hopefully, it will be better than the racist scum, who dominated the Old Democratic Right, or the corrupt Republican Lite compromisers of the DLC.

Ohio, a State that has been solidly Republican for over a hundred years, that gave us generations of Tafts, is probably going to switch decisively to the Democratic column in this coming election.

Kansas is a State with a Republican heritage going back to Alf Landon, the only Republican Governor elected in 1932, and consequently the candidate a nearly moribund Republican Party ran against Roosevelt in 1936. They are that Republican! Kansas may also go Democratic this Fall, in a big way.

Thanks to Kevin Drum for the pointer.

The Johnson County Sun:
"This is a sneak preview.

As we prepare ourselves to make political endorsements in subsequent issues, I can tell you unequivocally that this newspaper has never endorsed so many Democrats. Not even close.

In the 56 years we have been publishing in Johnson County, this basically has been a Republican newspaper. In the old days . . . we were traditional Republicans. That is, we happily endorsed Jan Meyers for Congress, Bob Dole for U.S. Senate, Nancy Kassebaum for U.S. Senate; virtually every Republican state legislator from here, with a few rare exceptions; and most governors, although we did endorse the conservative Democrats George and Bob Docking and John Carlin.

The point is, I can name on two hands over a half century the number of Democrats we have endorsed for public office.

This year, we will do something different. You will read why we are endorsing Kathleen Sebelius for governor and Mark Parkinson for lieutenant governor; Dennis Moore to be re-elected to the U.S. Congress; Paul Morrison for Kansas attorney general; and a slew of local Democratic state legislative candidates. These are not liberal Democrats. They are what fairly can be described as conservative Democrats, and we can prove that in our forthcoming endorsements. . . .

the shift, frankly, shocks me, because I have pulled the lever over and over since my first vote in 1968 for Republicans. If I was a closet Democrat, I must have hidden it well, especially from myself, since I always beat up on Democrats in my columns. I have called them leftists, socialists, and every other name in the book, because I thought they were flat-out wrong.

And, for the most part, I still do. I am opposed to big government. I have little use for unions. I never liked the welfare plans. I am opposed to weak-kneed defense policies. I have always been for fiscal prudence. I think back to the policies of most Democrats, and I cringe.

So, what in the world has happened?

The Republican Party has changed, and it has changed monumentally.

You almost cannot be a victorious traditional Republican candidate with mainstream values in Johnson County or in Kansas anymore, because these candidates never get on the ballot in the general election. They lose in low turnout primaries, where the far right shows up to vote in disproportionate numbers.

To win a Republican primary, the candidate must move to the right.

What does to-the-right mean?

It means anti-public education, though claiming to support it.

It means weak support of our universities, while praising them.

It means anti-stem cell research.

It means ridiculing global warming.

It means gay bashing. Not so much gay marriage, but just bashing gays.

It means immigrant bashing. I'm talking about the viciousness.

It means putting religion in public schools. Not just prayer.

It means mocking evolution and claiming it is not science.

It means denigrating even abstinence-based sex education.

Note, I did not say it means "anti-abortion," because I do not find that position repugnant, at all. I respect that position.

But everything else adds up to priorities that have nothing to do with the Republican Party I once knew.

That's why, in the absence of so-called traditional Republican candidates, the choice comes down to right-wing Republicans or conservative Democrats.

And now you know why we have been forced to move left."

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