Warning: snowflakes, people who don't like honesty, moderates, Brownback fans, and oh, everyone. Fine. Just everyone. Head to your safe spaces, because this will probably offend you, no matter who you are.
I'll call this hard truths, and then, hopefully we can all join hands, sing Kum-Ba-Ya and welcome the new year.
1. Browbeating Brownback Cost Many Republicans Election
It's a pretty common refrain these days that all conservatives lost while moderates won. I read the tea leaves quite differently. Not all moderates won. Some conservatives came through August and November unscathed. This election was a pendulum swing, and probably an over-correction, which means no one should get too comfortable in Topeka. (Might I suggest not even unpacking in your legislative offices?) In addition to constant bad media, budget projection shortfalls, and anti-incumbency fervor, the election also saw conservatives staying home--especially in the primary. So then the question becomes why did conservatives stay home?
I suspect it's because they felt like Republicans in general had nothing to offer them. With the most conservative legislature in decades, conservatives mostly failed to do the three most important things necessary: Cut spending, modify Kansas' school funding scheme, and make headway in how the Kansas Supreme Court has taken over fully one-half of the legislature's responsibility. Conservatives failed on all three. If you can't cut spending when you have supposedly the most conservative legislature and a supposedly conservative Governor, why bother? Why pound pavement? Why go to the polls? Just why. What's the point?
All of these things were going to be uphill battles, but we had more weapons than we're ever likely to have. The only weapon conservatives lacked was media support, and Republicans will NEVER have that. But what made matters worse than Republicans' inability to affect meaningful change was that many Republicans, who voted for all of the things they now denounce, turned their knives on Brownback.
I suspect more conservatives would have gone to the polls in August despite Republican's inability to move the ball were it not for one thing: Almost no one was defending conservative principles in any way, shape, or form. The constant barrage of attacks on Brownback from the center-right were the ankle-bound anvils that finally dragged Republicans underwater. Because Democrats are ALWAYS going to be able to out-liberal Republicans, those sudden naysayers created a problem for all Republicans--not just those who stayed true to their once-stated values.
I can live with loyalty. I can live with principle. Sometimes those two things are at odds. What I can't tolerate are people who have neither. These suddenly-turned preachers of the Big Government Way--when last week they were talking the Small Government Talk--aren't just damaging Brownback. They're damaging conservative principles by suggesting the only way forward, the only solution to all problems, is government intervention and specifically spending. Worse, they've served as a cautionary tale for elected officials around the country. This has damaged the entire conservative cause, not just Brownback, not just Kansas, but all small government principles for perhaps a decade or longer. Gross.
2. They Do Make 1 Point
Those naysayers who are doing, perhaps, permanent damage to the conservative cause, say the problem isn't that they changed their minds about government spending; it's that Brownback is bad at public relations. I agree 100 percent. It actually baffles me sometimes that Brownback has managed to get himself elected repeatedly. Every time I think he'll make the right move and zag right around a defender, he zags left and doesn't just take himself out of the play--he knocks over half of his own team members, too.
I am continually stunned at Brownback's refusal to play offense. He's always on defense, and unless you have the world's best scoring defense--we don't--that means you lose.
So no, I don't think Brownback carries the conservative message all that well, but he's on our team, and I'm not going to kick him when he falls over. I'm going to help him up, because we share the same objectives. Tarnishing him damages conservative principles everywhere--not just in Kansas. You don't have to look very far to recognize that. See a horrible story in today's New York Times. The headline: "In Kansas, Where Republicans and Fiscal Woes Reign, Dems Made Inroads."
The entire article makes me completely stabby. It repeats the lie that Olathe Public Schools HAD to cut Spanish classes for elementary students--as if that decision was somehow made by evil Republicans in Topeka. That was the decision of the USD 233 Board of Education. I note USD 233 continues to field football teams as far as the eye can see. We'll know schools are truly suffering when athletic programs are cut. (I'm not an advocate for cutting athletic programs, but if I'm truly worried about educating "the children" as all of these so-called educrats suggest, I keep Spanish and cut football. Every.day.of.the.week.)
If you are a Republican and you spend your days berating Brownback in the media, you are damaging Republicans and conservatism nationwide. Disagree with policies, respectfully debate, but be cautious and smart so as not to stick a permanent fork in the ideal of small government.