Archive for Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kansas pride trumps intra-border wars

January 25, 2012

I remain proud to be a Kansan, and given the present political landscape, I have some friends who probably can’t make that statement. Currently, Kansas is a politically divided state featuring skirmishes between moderates and conservatives, and I am not sure there are any liberals left in the state.

My guess is that the election this fall will be the biggest battle since the Civil War with moderates and conservatives firing verbal and printed salvos at each other. The main difference from a century and a half ago is they will be firing emails, not bullets. It will be vicious, with negative TV commercials, anonymous direct mailings, blogs and a dozen other electronic gizmos that I know or care nothing about. If anything, seeing the same negative commercial every night makes me want to vote the opposite way.

The real victim will be the public, since it will be very hard to determine the truth from fiction. It is sad, but there are far too many politicians who care more about getting elected than telling the truth. They spend more time attacking opponents than telling us what they will do once they get in office. I want an open-minded candidate who will look at the needs of the entire state and represent all people, not just one ideological group.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised since Kansas was born in controversy and, unfortunately, violence. I didn’t realize until I did a little research what really led to the border war of the 1850s. It seems there was a “backroom” agreement that Nebraska would enter the union as a free state and Kansas would be a slave state, or at least that’s what a lot of Missourians thought. Well, no one told Kansas settlers about that, and Missourians were shocked that a vast majority of our state opposed slavery. This led to attacks by Missouri “border ruffians” who terrorized Kansas. They tried to stuff ballot boxes and intimidate local residents.

That didn’t work, and Kansas “Jayhawkers” retaliated and discovered that Missourians had been making a profit looting Kansas homesteads. Through the violent likes of John Brown, Bloody Bill Anderson and William Quantrill, soon you had all out war.

After the war, Kansans continued to be a cantankerous bunch. There were major battles between the military and the plains Indians. When that mini-war moved further west, Kansas was beset with other difficulties including the buffalo hunters, who nearly eradicated the species. Kansas also gained notoriety during the outlaw era of the late 19th century.

Yet, during that period Kansas was one of the most progressive states in the union. Now known as an arch conservative state, Kansas once was a leader in social legislation. The Progressive Party almost elected a governor, and there was a strong socialist movement in southeastern Kansas. Kansas has always had a diverse political landscape and one that usually has led to controversy.

Except for a few elections, Kansas has always been heavily Republican. Only in Wyandotte County has the Democratic Party done well. While there are tremendous differences between eastern and western Kansas one thing remains constant — they are nearly all Republicans.

Kansas has produced many great leaders who have held high office. These include President Dwight Eisenhower and Charles Curtis, who served as vice president. The state has been a leader in agriculture and areas of manufacturing. If you stop to think about it, there are many reasons to be proud of Kansas.

Yes, we have problems now, but as in the past, Kansans will grumble, argue and fight, but in the long run they will solve the issue. I remain a proud Kansan.

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