In 2018, the President of the United States predicted a Congressional red wave. He was wrong.
In 2020, the President of the United States predicted a Congressional red wave. He was partially right but not enough to save him from the House Select Committee and DOJ indictment.
In 2022, everyone in the political chattering class predicts a midterm first term Congressional red wave for the out-of-power party.
Then came Krakatoa Kansas.
Now everything is jumbled. There is uncertainty (fear). What happens if the Republican Supreme Court victory negates the Republican Congressional victory?
Politics is not only local, it is personal. By that I mean, as individual human beings we respond most strongly to actions or events that directly affect us as individuals. Most recently, the price of gas an example. Back from when the draft was rare and we were not fighting a war, the draft was no big deal. Elvis being drafted could even be made into a movie. With the war in Vietnam, suddenly the draft affected every home. It became a big deal. That has not happened in any war fought by America since then.
With these thoughts in mind, let’s turn to the recent, surprising, and cataclysmic vote in Kansas about abortion.
WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS? (2004)
Here is what I wrote about Kansas on September 17, 2020:
The book What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank was another exercise in false expertise. The thrust of the book was to resolve the dilemma of why so many Americans vote against their economic and social interests. There had to be something wrong with these people since culture war issues trumped their economic and social concerns. It would be like supporting candidates who consistently favored tax cuts for the rich while giving you nothing. How could people be so dumb as to be shafted again and again while cheering the very people who exploited them? What’s the matter with these people?
The publication date of 2004 is most revealing. That election year was the last time and only time in the Baby Boomer Era a Republican presidential candidate won a majority vote. If it was written say a year before the publication date, then it was five years before Sarah Palin called for taking back the country and 13 years before the then long-time Democrat and Clinton supporter conned Republicans into thinking he cared about the little people the elitists fly over. To put those years in perspective, it means the Democrats had 13-year notice on the 2016 election and learned nothing during the interim except to pour more oil on the fire. Still it is questionable whether or not the Democrats have learned that there is nothing wrong with the people of Kansas except the way they have been treated by the elitists.
The issue raised in by the book was that condescending arrogant self-righteous Democratic elitists knew what was best for the little people of Kansas. The real problem is that those people are too dumb to know what is in their best interest otherwise they would vote Democratic. The harm that this elitist Democratic view has caused this country is not the subject of this blog. The issue is what was left unspoken then: what about when the know-it-all was Republican?
THE TEA PARTY AND SAM BROWNBACK
Enter Sam Brownback and the Tea Party now the Freedom Caucus of Insurrectionists Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan. Back then, the Tea Party had the words, it had the slogans, and it had the plans that would solve the problems of America. All it needed was the chance to put its money where its mouth was. Then everyone would see that they could not only talk the talk, they could walk the walk.
So Kansas Senator Sam Brownback decided that instead of running for reelection during the Tea Party tidal wave of 2010, he would run for governor. He won and immediately launched his Tea Party program through dramatic cuts in income taxes. Every Tea Party person knows that income taxes are the problem and cutting them if not eliminating them was the answer. Brownback was true to his word. His “red-state experiment” put into action the very slogans the Kansas voters had cheered during his campaign.
Unfortunately for Brownback, his tax cutting occurred in the real world and not in the political professional wrestling arena. The results in the real world were exactly as expected. The Kansas experiment resulted in a corresponding massive cut in state revenue. There was no economic boom to generate sufficient revenues to compensate for the lost revenue. In fact, the result was a financial disaster for the state.
Plunging revenues meant plunging funding available for government spending. Kansas budget shortfalls led to deficits which led to cuts in spending in areas that directly affected individual people. Schools figured prominently in the cutbacks. The thing about schools is that they are in every neighborhood. You do not need to listen to radio talk shows, watch cable talk shows, or listen to politicians to know when you very own neighborhood school is under attack.
It took time, but eventually Brownback’s Tea Party experiment was declared a failure. Tax cuts were reversed, vetoes were overridden, and taxes were increased. More or less there was peace in shire once again. There also was Democratic Party governor elected in 20218 in this Republican state.
Governors are different than Senators and talk show hosts. They have to put up or they are shut up. Governors have direct responsibilities. They act. They do things. Or sometimes they choose not to do things. Whatever the case, they directly impact the lives of the people in their state. They can’t get away with the airhead slogans of Representatives or Senators. Brownback showed he was not doing the job and the people could see and feel it. They may have been conned by the Tea Party slogans but now they had been burnt by the Tea Party actions. Time for a change. Time to vote a Democrat into office.
ABORTION AND KANSAS
The national media are very good at reporting on the words of the national bloviators. There is no doubt that professional political wrestling makes for great sport. If it bleeds, it leads. And that carries over into the political coverage as well.
Then Brownback occurs and all hell breaks loose. For years Republicans talked the talk of overthrowing Roe v. Wade. Republicans sold their soul to a candidate who promised to appoint the judges who would make it happen. The only Republicans who did not talk about reversing Roe v. Wade were the Supreme Court candidates themselves when they were speaking to the Senators individually or in committee. Then at last they had the opportunity to do what Republicans had talked about for decades. They did the Brownback and have reaped the whirlwind. The abortion tornado has ripped through the country, now first seen in Kansas.
ABORTION ARMAGEDDON: THE POST-ALITO APOCALYPSE
Way back on May 8, 2022, I conclude the blog with the above title with:
Remember what happened the last time the wishes of the Evangelicals were fulfilled? For decades, Protestant evangelicals had rallied for the prohibition of alcohol on a national level. It was not enough that alcohol sometimes was prohibited locally or on Sunday. It needed to be banned everywhere for all times … except for medicinal purposes, of course. Those efforts eventually paid off. That time it was not through the Supreme Court but in an amendment to the Constitution. Welcome to the Roaring Twenties. The amendment soon was reversed in abrupt fashion. The fervor of the religious could not overcome the wishes of the majority of the Americans. Once the law went into effect, everybody was confronted with its meaning and impact and eventually the majority prevailed.
Little did I know it would start to happen so quickly with abortion. Abortion isn’t whether or not Pelosi should go to Taiwan. It is not whether or not we should kill the Al-Qaeda leader or what should we do in Ukraine. Like Prohibition in the 1920s and the draft in the 1960s, it is national issue brought home on the local level, on the personal level. You do not need radio and TV talk show bloviators to see the impact of the abortion decision.
We know that primary turnout usually is small. This enables the extreme crazies more easily to be nominated. But sometimes, just sometimes, there are issues which touch individual people directly. So much so that it causes them to act. Alito cannot suffer the same fate as Brownback, but those who cheered him on can. Who knew that Kansas would become a cutting edge state in the 2022 elections?
RUSH TO LEGISLATE WITHOUT THINKING
Democrats now have a template that can be used against every Republican candidate at the state and federal level in the country. The question to be posed to Republican candidates is a simple one:
WHAT ABOUT THIS …?
In the rush to legislate, the Republicans never took the time to debate the different situations which may occur. Every day another one surfaces. The Republicans stand naked shorn of their slogans. States now are constantly reacting on the fly to the myriad of human circumstances which can arise given the absence of legal abortions in a state. There is no point in listing all the questions raised since the ruling. We are witnessing the live experience of how rabbis created the Talmud as they tried to relate biblical laws to the lives actually led.
The Republican state legislators abandoned their obligation to conduct such debates prior to the passage of the abortion ban legislators. Instead they are being confronted with what their decision devoid of intelligent thought means in the real world. If the Democrats are smart, those Republican legislators and candidates will be confronted every day of the campaign with “What about this ….”
“If we are going to ban abortion, there are things we’ve got to do to make sure the need for abortion is reduced, and that women are not endangered,” said Representative Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina.
“What are you going to do to reduce the need?”
Ask every Republican candidate. Every day.
Mace supports expanding access to gynecological and obstetrics care, contraception, including emergency contraception, and the right of women to travel to other states to get an abortion without fear of prosecution. Do you?
Ask every Republican candidate. Every day.
Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen learned he needed to clarify and elaborate his position. Suddenly he supports family and maternity leave program, a $2,500-per-child adoption tax credit, and improving access to birth control. Do you support that?
Ask every Republican candidate. Every day.
For years Republicans were able to get away with calling for the reversal of Obamacare without having an alternate. They do not have that option with state-level abortion.
If you doubt the power of Krakatoa Kansas consider this headline about insurrectionist Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano:
The Republican nominee for governor once called abortion his “No. 1 issue.” Now he says the next governor won’t control abortion policy (Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/28/22).
2022 will be remembered in part for the showdown between Krakatoa Kansas and the Red Wave.