I’ve got a confession to make. I’m from Kansas and I’m a Liberal Republican. I know that’s not a normal label you hear in the political world. It’s usually a Liberal Democrat or a Conservative Republican. Wait a minute, you might thinking, isn’t there already a term for Republicans that are really Democrats – RINOs or Republicans in Name Only? You are correct. Except in Kansas, I don’t feel like that term applies. In Kansas, I really am a Liberal Republican, and here is why.
If you haven’t noticed, things have gotten a wee bit extreme here in Kansas. We’ve got a governor who has used this state as his conservative theory playground. He basically gambled big with tax cuts, hoping it would pay off so he could run for the top job in the Nation and well ... the gamble didn’t pay off, and our economy is in the toilet.
Then you have the House and Senate, who fall all over themselves to see who can put out the most extreme legislation in the land. If there was a Duck Dynasty Award for most extreme legislation, our Representatives would win the top prize.
Earlier this year the Kansas House passed HB 2453, allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT people based on “religious freedom.” The bill ended up dying, but that prompted me to write an article for the Kansas City Star where I contemplated changing parties. I had enough. Voting Democrat in every election wasn’t changing anything in Kansas. You know the Albert Einstein definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s how it felt to be a Democrat in Kansas. The same extremists kept getting elected time after time. My vote never mattered. I needed a drastic change in tactics. Maybe changing parties is what I needed to do and vote moderate.
I received an outpouring of support encouraging me to change parties from people who were either going to change parties or from people who already had changed parties.
“Do it girl! I’ve been doing it for years!”
“It’s the best kept secret in Kansas. Let’s vote the extremists out.”
“If you do it, I’ll do it!”
From all the feedback, it seemed like there was a revolution taking place in Kansas.
I went home and did some homework to see if this tactic was justified.
Kansas holds Republican primaries in August. In the last general election in Kansas, 8 of the 40 seats in the Senate didn’t have a Democratic challenger. In the House, in 33 out of the 125 races Republicans ran unopposed. That means the election for those 33 seats was decided in the primaries in August.
After looking at the statistics, I did what I never thought I would be able to do. Hell froze over, and I registered as a Republican. I’ll admit, I had to take a deep breath as I clicked the mouse over the R box on the registration form. The thud I heard was my grandmother rolling over in her grave. Nobody in my family is a Republican. Sorry Grandma. Extreme times call for extreme measures. I was officially the first Republican in my family.
My strategy in Kansas is like many other voters – vote moderate over the extremist, then when it comes down to a moderate vs. a Democrat vote for the best candidate.
That brings me to the Democratic Party in Kansas. If you are wondering – yes the Democrats in Kansas were pissed. They felt like I abandoned the party when I wrote my article. I guess when it comes down to the facts I did. But here’s the honest truth. I’m 42 years old. The way things are going in Kansas, I don’t see the Democrats taking over the state again in my lifetime. The GOP has a stranglehold on the state (see Koch Brothers). If I want to help change in this state, it’s going to have to be with moderates, not with Democrats. I still have a chance to vote Democrat in the next general election if I feel they have a strong candidate, and I think they do with Paul Davis for Governor.
That’s why I call myself a Liberal Republican, not a RINO, because in Kansas I really am a Republican, just with liberal values. What makes me not “in name only” is that I openly support moderate candidates. I still hold true to my liberal values like being pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, anti-gun, pro-education, etc.
Coincidentally, Republicans passed legislation in Kansas to stop people like me from changing parties after June 1st. I affectionately like to call it the Aimee Patton Legislation. I guess they were overwhelmed by the last voter turnout and wanted to be sure to put another obstacle in place to keep people from voting (yes that is sarcasm you sense).
We are coming up on the primaries in Kansas. It will be the first time I vote as a Republican and the first time I vote in the primary. When the results are in, we will see if there really is a revolution in Kansas.
When the election results come in and the extremists are voted out, maybe people will finally stop asking, “What’s the matter with Kansas?”