The question now, outraged Kansas voters, is what next? At the risk of angering both Republicans and fellow Democrats alike, I'm going to share my own personal thoughts about my state, the State of Kansas. And if you thought HB 2453 was great, stop reading now. There's no point in continuing.
"How did this happen" and "vote those idiots out of office" are two of the most repeated comments I've been reading online. Hundreds and hundreds of people have stepped up to express outrage and anger over the bill, many of them life long Republicans, many of them religious. So how DID this happen?
Kansas is a red state. When I say red, I mean red as in Santa Claus red. Red as in "red, red wine" red. Red as in "bleeding Kansas" red.
It's just a fact. Roughly 45% of registered voters in the state of Kansas are Republicans, 25% are Democrats and 30% are Independents. "The Kansas Republican Party has dominated Kansas politics since Kansas statehood in 1861 and in February 2011, the Gallup Survey classified Kansas as one of only five "solidly Republican" states. After the 2012 elections, Kansas was one of only five states with all its federal and statewide elected officials from the Republican Party." (wiki)
Why all the facts? In order to explain something to Republicans. YOU control who is elected in this state. You, you, you.
Back to the original question regarding all of the outrage over HB 2453 and how it could possibly have happened; these are your candidates and you elected them.
Who did you elect? They guy who introduced this bill, Charles Macheers. By the way, he's still defending it (after admitting he didn't really ever read it). How about the guy who handed it off to him, Rep. Lance Kinzer, Lenexa, who rabidly defended the bill on the house floor. Rep. Kinzer now refuses to speak publicly about his role in bringing this bill to the House. How about the other 70 legislators who voted "yes" on this bill last week? We aren't hearing much from them either...but you voted them into office.
My own trio of Shawnee Representatives heartily endorsed this bill (they are Mr. Macheers, Brett Hildabrand and John Rubin, in case you were wondering). The two State Representatives from my home county also endorsed this bill (Tom Moxley and Ron Highland, just in case you were interested).
You might find yourself asking HOW on earth could over 70 people be elected who would actually be capable of endorsing and voting "yes" on a bill that so clearly, so obviously, and so simply would allow blatant and open discrimination against American citizens? It comes down to five words: I am the conservative candidate.
When these folks ran for office they simply latched onto the word "conservative" and wore it like The Medal of Honor. Seriously, who in Kansas isn't going to vote for the self-described "conservative" candidate?? This is a RED STATE, after all. This is a REPUBLICAN STATE!
It's time, Kansas Republicans, to decide once and for all what the word "conservative" truly means to each of you individually. Because many of the people you are voting for have found a way to warp and twist that word and, in the process, have left many of the values traditionally associated with it by the wayside.
Limited government? There is very little "limit" to be found when bill after bill after bill is passed involving the legislation of medical choices between a woman and her doctor. There is very little "limit" involved when bills are passed that specifically focus on legislation based upon a particular set of religious beliefs. There is very little "limit" exhibited when bills are created that allow one man and one party to determine the makeup of the highest courts in the state. And there is very little "limit" in spending the bulk of a legislative session tackling unnecessary social issues while ignoring the state budget.
What about pro-business? This bill was the furthest thing from business friendly one could imagine. In fact, some of the most ardent opponents were a few of Kansas' biggest companies who loudly voiced their opposition to the bill. Word is leaking from Topeka that it is only because of these voices that the Senate is going to either kill or at least severely modify HB 2453. Additional word is that Governor Sam Brownback would have happily signed off on this bill prior to the public outcry.
I ask this: if you could so easily vote into office Representatives who have so freely, so eagerly, so gleefully passed this type of legislation how can you be trusted to make the right choices in the future? Will you now, finally, listen to the politically engaged when they ask you, beg you, to look deeply into the primaries and make your voices heard when it matters the most? Will you now, not just the 4% of you who typically show up, VOTE in the primary? Let me repeat: roughly FOUR PERCENT of registered Republicans vote in the primary elections. The ramifications of this means that approximately 4% of all voters in Kansas determine who is elected to office because in this, the reddest of red states, the Republican usually wins in the general election.
Will you maybe, just maybe, consider that strictly voting along party lines might not always be the wisest thing to do? All it takes is a few phone calls to the candidates to feel them out. Or maybe, just maybe, when they knock on your door instead of hiding around the corner and avoiding them you could maybe ask a few questions and engage in some dialogue. In addition, simply look at who candidates associate with. Mr. Macheers openly campaigned in tandem with one of the most extreme, right wing, and self-ordained anti-abortion crusaders in the entire Senate, Mary Pilcher-Cook (who made headlines just a few weeks ago after sponsoring a bill to outlaw surrogacy; the bill was so ridiculous that even the far right Senate President Susan Wagle scoffed at it). If anyone wanted to know what type of "conservative" Mr. Macheers was when he ran it would've been child's play to figure out.
The real question we need to be asking is what type of conservative are you? An anti-abortion, anti-public school, anti-stem cell, anti gay, anti-science, theocratic conservative? Or are you a limited government, personal freedom and responsibility, pro-education and pro-business conservative? While I've certainly simplified things (yes, I know, it's not so simple for many of you) make no mistake, these are two completely different parties. The first group is running our state government, from the top down. And they were elected by you.
The second group, it appears, woke from a slumber this week when they realized the people they had elected seemed to have lost all sense of the constitution and what it means (if they ever knew to begin with).
In November of this year, every single Representative who voted "yes" on HB 2453 will be on the ballot. A vote for them is a vote for discrimination and madness. Too harsh? I don't think so. Many of these candidates will also be on the ballot during the primaries, in August. Check to see if their opponent is the type of conservative Republican more in line with your beliefs and then make sure you get to the polls.
And hey, here's another option. Maybe, just maybe, if your Republican choice is one of the Representatives who voted "yes" on the bill that has made our state a national embarrassment (check out the "Kansas' New Jim Crow Laws" articles flooding the internet), consider voting for the Democratic candidate. Remember, all but two of the current Democrat Representatives openly and passionately voted "no" on this bill (see, even the Democrats have a few in Topeka who don't deserve to carry the party name...happens in all families). Don't worry, if you can bring yourself to vote for a Democrat rest assured your overall conservative interests will still most likely be firmly represented and you can take comfort that at least, in this one election, you erred on the side of caution. Because frankly, the Representatives who voted "yes" have proven with one singular vote that they aren't worthy of representing a constituency. Even in the most red state in the country.
Step up Kansas Republicans. Help take back our state. For the sake of us all.