I woke up feeling a bit depressed Wednes?day. I was also sad. And, more than a little frightened. Plus, my feelings were hurt. You see, my choice for governor in Tuesday?s election didn?t make it. He came close, but we all know the only places that counts.
I was left feeling a bit down. After all the negative ads I refused to watch on TV, all the automated phone calls I didn?t answer, all the political mailings I tossed straight into the trash, nothing will improve in the Sunflower State.
With what I am sure he will call a clear mandate from residents?despite nearly half of Kansans and a sizable contingency from his own party voting no confidence?the man who has been in charge for the past four years claimed another term.
Unfortunately, I believe that while he and the Koch brothers may have been winners, the rest of us stand to lose in a big way. And, that?s why I am sad.
I hope this doesn?t sound like sour grapes. I have been disappointed by election results before. After all, I am not a registered Republican, and I choose to live in one of the reddest states in the union.
But, this time was different. I honestly believed clearer heads would prevail this time around. I thought the prospect of a predicted $600 million deficit during the next term would cause people to rethink Kansas? great experiment.
After all, surveys everywhere listed the economy as the top issue with voters going into this mid-term election. Apparently not in the central states, where electors seem much more focused on social concerns.
So, why are my feelings hurt? I?m glad you asked. As an educator, I can?t help but perceive a metaphorical slap in the face from the hands of those who cast ballots for the incumbent governor. After all, he put his stamp on the single most anti-public-education law in just about anyone?s memory.
And, as he touted in his campaign, the next four years will be ?full speed ahead.? I envision nothing but a steady stream of attacks by the conservative House and Senate members during the coming months, and our state?s leader has shown no intent to stand in the way of legislation aimed at emasculating the rights of teachers and decimating laws protecting them.
What hurts is that an overwhelming majority of voters in Marion County apparently threw their collective weight behind this movement. The only exceptions are a couple of townships in the western part of the county and the good folks from Peabody and Florence.
And that?s why I am frightened.
I?m scared for what is going to happen to our schools in the next session of the Legislature. I can guarantee you, more cuts to education are on the way. When the state runs out of money, and the governor has already given away the candy store in the form of tax exemptions to businesses, the budget ax is going to fall. And I can assure you, it will not come down on the privileged few who send their children to private schools.
So, when the fiscal failure hits the fan, the students are the ones who will suffer. Programs will go away. Class sizes will grow. Textbooks will continue to age, and many of you will be wringing your hands and wondering where things went so wrong.
You will only have to look back as far as November. I hope I am wrong, but experience tells me I am not.
On the national front, momentum has swung back the Republican way. And, I suppose that could be a good thing, at least in terms of alleviating some of the gridlock in Washington. We might get that Keystone Pipeline we have been dreaming about. And perhaps we will no longer let those pesky polar bears stand in the way of drilling for oil in the Arctic.
But, voters should be careful what they wish for. We have seen what happens in our home state when one party claims all the power. Republicans are now the majority in the House and Senate. Only the president stands between them and whatever they want to for us or to us.
I had to chuckle at all the rhetoric from those who rode the wave to GOP victory last Tuesday. More than one politician was heard to say that now he will turn this country around. From what, exactly? The lowest gasoline prices in years? The best unemployment numbers since 2008? Or the highest stock market since?ever?
I hope lawmakers will seize this opportunity to make some real headway in solving the immigration issue, or stopping the killing in the Middle East, or aiding those who are suffering from the most recent Ebola outbreak in Africa.
After all, if things don?t get better, they have no one to blame but themselves. And, neither do the voters.