Winston Churchill is credited with saying, “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” The observation of the legendary leader of Great Britain highlights the changing perspective that so often comes with age: the impressionable idealism matures into hardened practicality.
Kansans, as a whole, have never been thought of as a “liberal” people, at least as we apply the label politically. But as the state begins its 150th year, the label “conservative” definitely has changed, even in recent years. The 2010 election made that clear. Republican office holders who always considered themselves “conservative” on fiscal and social matters are now targeted by “true conservatives” for derision and defeat.
Kansas has a political legacy for progressive conservatism, an outlook that balances the rights of the individual with a responsibility to care for those of lesser fortune. Where is Kansas headed now? One wonders if we have either heart or brain. —DR