If the Republican primary election in Kansas was indeed a referendum on Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies, the results left little doubt about the strength of his mandate. Conservatives swept one moderate Republican state senator after another out of office. In the process, they demolished the coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats that has been the only brake on what is now a conservative juggernaut.
The Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity was quick to portray Tuesday’s conservative victory as a shift in Kansas Republican values and a blanket endorsement of the governor’s current direction. But with the governor’s approval rating in the state standing at around 35 percent in recent polls, is that really the case? Do a majority of Kansas Republicans support the conservative agenda or did moderate Republicans simply fail to vote?
The real issue ahead will be justice. Can the conservatives govern without exacerbating the inequity between the many in the working and middle classes, and the few who own the largest corporations in our midst? Can the conservatives govern without contributing to the disadvantages of the disabled, the elderly and the disenfranchised poor? Can the conservatives govern without undermining the school system that is trying to prepare the workers and entrepreneurs of the future, and is one of the significant remaining assets of rural Kansas?