Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Kansas culture war isn't going away

Despite the victories of moderates and evolution in last week's primary vote, writer Thomas Frank argues in today's New York Times that the cultural crusade of Kansas conservatives and others like them around the nation isn't going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, I think Frank may well be right.

The problem is both within the conservatives and their opponents, he says. He implies that social conservatives are driven by their frustration by their own lack of power. Moderates and liberals are simply toothless because they haven't figured out how to counter the attack that they're the horrible elite who are oppressing the masses.

Frank writes:
The culture war will remain with us, both in Kansas and in the nation, because it is larger than any of its leaders, larger than its legions of citizen activists, larger even than the particular causes in which these forces are enlisted. Seen from the streets of Wichita, the rightist rebellion of Kansas seems to fulfill that most romantic of American political traditions: the uprising of the little guy.
When I caught up with the various Republican personalities, at a candidate forum in Independence, what struck me was the feebleness of the moderate response to this kind of onslaught. Again and again I saw Cons play the populist card -- railing against the National Education Association, suggesting their opponents belonged in the wealthy suburbs of Kansas City, alleging epic voter fraud right here in Kansas -- and then heard the Mods, dressed in neat professional attire, simply dismiss the criticism out of hand. C'mon, you know me. Now, let' get out there and put up some yard signs.
I think there is much truth in what Frank is saying. This piece is worth reading. Unfortunately, this column is behind the Times infuriating Times Select pay wall and is only available to those willing to fork over $50 a year for a subscription.

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