Politics aside, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. As long as I ignore media reports about the latest round of political mudslinging, I can get along just fine.
The temptation to close my ears and sing happy tunes like a child seems like a good option right now. Sadly, however, it is child’s play in the real world of political correctness and complete dysfunction.
What we need right now is someone with enough courage to say, “Enough!”
How did we get to this place of ideological impasse? Next question: How much time do we have to sit down and discuss it?
This is the age of the angry, politically extreme, “out in left or right field” voter. This is the era of politicians taking extreme positions to energize the angry voter.
This is a battlefield where truth is relevant, only if it serves the purpose of winning the battle. This is the time when politicians change sides of an argument whenever expedient, not because it is the right cause to support, but it is in opposition to an opponent’s current view.
Sadly, I can only think of a well-worn cliche that sums it up: Be careful what you wish for, you may not like what you get.
Unfortunately, Kansas is becoming a shining example when rational, thoughtful, compromising, due diligence processes give way to a radical “my way or the highway,” libertarian philosophy of super-limited government. We are witnesses to targeted campaigning to oust moderate politicians and solidify a super conservative legislative body that rubber stamps whatever the governor wants.
Our grand experiment, as Gov. Sam Brownback put it, is a colossal failure. Brownback’s fiscal policy now includes raiding funds designated for specific programs, like the highway trust fund, in order to minimize the budgetary impact of his failed income tax policy. These programs were passed by previous legislative bodies and signed into law.
In the not-to-distant future, we Kansans will soon appreciate an earlier era when building infrastructure and maintaining it with funds set aside for that purpose was considered a wise investment for our state.
Having driven thousands of miles each year for the past five years while traveling to nearby states for meetings with farmers, I have come to appreciate how well Kansas roads are in comparison to roads in other places. Today, I fear what the future may hold, going forward.
Former Gov. John Carlin has suggested the experiment was never intended to succeed. In retrospect, Carlin may be on to something, though that thought suggests a conspiracy of an unsavory sort.
How many property-tax increases will we need to pass to pay for other county and educational programs? When will this “golden goose” raise its head and say, “Enough!”?
Good tax policy never goes out of style. The three-legged stool of earlier days was good policy. Property taxes, state income taxes and sales taxes has always been a fair way of managing our revenue stream. We must return to that as soon as possible.
The alternative choice, that we already know, is an invitation to disastrous consequences.
From a state and national perspective, voters in mostly rural areas like Kansas, are mostly conservative and it corresponds with who they elect into office. Like myself, farmers follow that trend and reflect the rural values that have made this country great.
That is a good thing. However, a democratic republic like ours requires that people must work out their differences and come up with a reasonable compromise. It means if we want to pass laws that reflect our will, we must find common ground and work around our differences.
When voters place uncompromising demands on the politicians, compromise is unlikely. When compromise is unlikely, we have an impasse, like what we see today on Capitol Hill. When we have an impasse, we experience a breakdown in law and order and increasing chaos. Is that what we want?
If we are unable or unwilling to compromise on important issues, we cannot effectively govern. Barry Flinchbaugh, a noted retired professor of economics at Kansas State University, suggests there are two ways to govern. One is through the ballot box, and the other is with the barrel of a gun. Our decision is before us. Which will it be?
The best decision a voter can make this year is to speak with a loud voice and say, “Enough!” Not only can we do that through the ballot, but we also must speak up and tell our politicians to actually do meaningful work of effective governing. Compromise is not a dirty word. It is a roadmap to effective governance in a democratic society.
Are you ready to say, “Enough”?