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“The Moderate Revolution In Kansas”: The Center Is Fighting Back And The Right Wing Is Getting Pretty Nervous

A surprising political revolt is now brewing in Kansas, one that could provide a model for breaking the stranglehold of the hard right on the Republican Party — if enough people join in.

Moderates and Tea Partiers have jousted for several years in Kansas, just as they have elsewhere, and the right wing has largely won, ousting moderates from school boards, county commissions, and the Capitol. But now the center is fighting back, summoning an aggressiveness that like-minded Republicans have rarely employed at the national level or in other states.

On Monday, 104 moderates did something unthinkable, banding into a group called Republicans for Kansas Values in order to endorse a Democrat, Paul Davis, in his campaign to oust Gov. Sam Brownback from office. The main reason was Mr. Brownback’s ruinous tax cuts, which, as The Times editorial board noted on Monday, have severely reduced the state’s revenues, leading to a credit-rating reduction and less money available for schools and roads.

“Kansas has not had that kind of tradition,” said Dick Bond, a Republican and former president of the Kansas Senate. “We value higher education. We value K-12. And we’re abandoning that in the name of some kind of extreme policy.”

But the group’s bill of particulars against Mr. Brownback — a mini-Declaration of Independence for moderates — goes far beyond what it calls a “reckless tax experiment” that actually raised middle-class taxes and pushing the state’s economy below all of its neighbors. It points out that the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid had hurt Kansas hospitals and driven people out of rural counties. It accuses him of trying to end the state’s merit selection process for judges so that he could install his own appointees.

And most powerfully, it says he damaged the Republican party by purging those who disagreed with him — exactly the method favored by Tea Party leaders across the country.

“Brownback shrunk President Reagan’s ‘Big Tent’ Republican Party by joining with special interests to campaign against and beat Republicans who disagreed with his policies,” the group’s statement says. “Brownback’s extreme agenda makes Kansas appear intolerant and backward. Brownback’s hand-picked legislators have spent two straight legislative sessions focusing on social issues that sparked national negative press and embarrassed Kansas. Brownback’s Washington D.C.-style approach downgrades Kansas’ character and brings embarrassing headlines.”

This is tough stuff in a conservative state, and the far right is regrouping fast. One state legislator, noting the many former politicians in the group, said it had “raided the nursing home” for its members. Rick Santorum flew in this week to campaign for Mr. Brownback, and actually said “the future of the free world is at stake” in the governor’s re-election, because liberals — whom he compared to the “eye of Mordor” — were trying to destroy true patriots.

“The New York Times has no idea where Kansas is,” he said, according to the Wichita Eagle, “but they’ve written several articles hammering Sam Brownback, because Sam is a descendant of the American Revolution.”

When the hyperbole reaches the level of Tolkien, you know the right wing is getting nervous. Moderate Republicans have been silenced in state after state, too afraid of a vicious backlash to speak their minds. But now, coming from a very unexpected place, there is an example of courage to follow.


By: David Firestone, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editors Blog, The New York Times, July 16, 2014

July 17, 2014 - Posted by | Kansas, Right Wing, Sam Brownback | , , , , , ,

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