By Diane Silver
Longtime political observer Martin Hawver writes in today's Wichita Eagle that the religious right -- aka "social conservatives" -- have sputtered to defeat on every single "red meat" social issue this year in the Kansas Legislature.
The implications of their defeats are "potentially dramatic," he says.
This year's events could foretell the demise of the religious right as a legislative power in Kansas. It could mean a return to a moderately dominated Republican Party in Kansas and/or more power for the Democratic Party in this state, or it might just be too early to say for sure what any of this means.
Martin -- and I'll call him by his first name because I've known him for years -- is an astute observer of Kansas politics. He has covered the Statehouse for decades. He knows where the bodies are buried, and how the winds of politics blow.
I agree with him. It is significant that the far right has so far lost on everything from immigration to domestic partner registries. These defeats have occurred even as they've had a stranglehold on the third most powerful office in the Statehouse, the position of Speaker of the House (Rep. Melvin Neufeld).
What this this means for the future of Kansas politics and policy is impossible to say at this point, largely because what you and I do will determine that future.
Our involvement or our apathy in the 2008 elections, in particular, will set the tone in Topeka. In a state with as small a population as Kansas, every vote counts, every person counts.
If we want lawmakers who believe in fairness and moderation, then we have to work to elect them. We hold the future in our hands.