Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Kansas GOP Watch: The “lost” feeling of moderates and what that means for national politics

Mark Parkinson, former chair of the Kansas Republican Party, sums up the feelings of many of his former political colleagues this way: "A lot of people in Kansas are feeling lost right now."

That’s just one of the more pointed comments in a Los Angeles Times profile on the state of the Kansas GOP. As a long-time observer of Kansas politics, I can tell you that the story by Nicholas Riccardi is right on the money.

The key, though, which isn’t emphasized in the story, is that the religious right cannot win at the polls if moderate Republicans do not collude with them. This is true for Kansas and for the rest of the country. The question now is whether the change in attitudes among traditional Republicans in Kansas will mark the beginning of a change among moderate Republicans nationally.

What Kansas Republicans are beginning to understand is that they truly made a pact with the devil when they first decided to ignore the excesses of the religious right and work with the mega churches and their followers.

Sometimes it wasn’t a matter of “ignoring” anything, but of moderates being booted out of positions in local precincts and the state committee. At other times, moderate Republicans decided to use the extra grassroots strength provided by the religious right to win at the polls. I think this is particularly true on the national level.

The Times notes:

Political observers say the fracture within the Kansas GOP may foreshadow the future for the national party. The division between moderates and social conservatives is expected to define the contest for the party's 2008 presidential nomination.

Kansas has been at the forefront of the culture wars that helped the Republican Party gain national dominance this decade. Twice in the last seven years, its Board of Education voted to teach alternatives to evolution in public schools. Voters in 2005 overwhelmingly approved a ban on gay marriage. The state's attorney general last year subpoenaed medical records of abortion patients.
The entire Times story is well worth reading. Republicans across the nation need to understand what their counterparts in Kansas are now learning. If you collude with the religious right, you will eventually end up losing your political power and handing your state, and the nation, over to people whose policies will destroy what you believe is important.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right on!