Monday, February 27, 2006

Showing the political "gooberheads" to the door

This blog is about politics, but it’s also about hope. In this time when the politics of selfishness (think Bush tax cuts for the wealthy) and religious oppression (well, you know what and who) seem to gain greater strength every day, the idea that we can hope for societal progress can seem pretty outlandish.

Today, though, Jim Hightower makes the argument that while politics on the national scene may be dismal, grassroots organizations are making progress on the local level. I think he may well be right.

I’m seeing the phenomenon of grassroots success --- or at least an increasingly strong grassroots movement -- every day here in Kansas, the reddest of red states.

One year ago when the amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions came up for a vote, a geographically diverse, statewide organization for fair laws for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Kansans didn’t even exist. We lost, in part, because we had no infrastructure to help us fight back. Today the Kansas Equality Coalition is strong and thriving. The organization has chapters in six regions of the state, including the rural southwestern part of Kansas.

A year ago, anti-evolution and anti-science ultra-conservatives appeared to have a stranglehold on the Kansas State Board of Education. Today it looks like almost every one of the ultra conservative members of the board faces a challenger in the November election. Some of the conservatives face challenges not only from Democrats, but also from moderate Republicans and may not even make it to the November ballot.

A year ago, the ultra-conservative attorney general of Kansas, Phill Kline, appeared to have a strong chance of getting re-elected in November. Now, he’s under investigation for ethics violations, he’s been slapped by the Kansas Supreme Court and his latest escapade of defining every time teenagers kiss in the back of a car as abuse is getting unwanted attention. Meanwhile, Kline has drawn a strong challenger in Paul Morrison, who jumped ship from the Republican to the Democratic Party to run for attorney general.

A year ago, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights had a good chance of passing the Kansas Legislature and being put on the November ballot for voter approval. Otherwise known as TABOR, this so-called “bill of rights” is a constitutional amendment designed to take money and support away from people who need help. I’ve always thought that TABOR is an absurd name for this proposal. Perhaps a better name is The We Declare Society To Be Selfish Amendment. Today the Lawrence Journal-World reported that TABOR appears to be dead in Kansas, at least for this legislative session. Wahoo!

A year ago, it would have seemed absurd to even imagine a movement to take back Kansas and to turn it away from the selfish theocrats who appear to want to control every aspect of everyone’s life. Today, though, that movement to Take Back Kansas is very much alive and well.

Hightower wrote in his piece, All Good Politics Are Local:
Luckily, however, my work is not based in Washington, and my frequent travels allow me to be in touch with a grassroots America that's unabashedly progressive and on the move. Yes, Washington is ignoring our country's real needs and squandering our democratic promise, but out beyond the Beltway (and below the radar of the Powers That Be) there are folks, groups, coalitions, and even elected leaders who're taking action at the state and local level to build an America based on our historic ideals of fairness, justice, and equal opportunity for all. I have great hope, because grassroots people are so much stronger, more resilient, more creative, and more American than the gooberheads at the top, and they'll not long be held down or held back.
It’s long past time to show “gooberheads” at the top and at the local level to the door. People are waking up all around this country to do just that.

No comments: