The L Files

Winds of change in Kansas?

The radical right agenda of social conservatives may be creating a window of opportunity for Democrats.
As a Lawrence Journal-World article notes, Kansas is moving rapidly to implement some of the most radical elements of the rightwing agenda: "Constitutional ban on gay marriage: done; science standards critical of evolution: done; investigating abortion clinics: done; obstacles to sex education: in the works; politically untouchable ultra-conservative congressmen: ongoing."

But is a backlash in the works? The piece also points to an open rebellion brewing among moderate Republicans, which is working to the advantage of Democrats:
A group called the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority announced last week it would get involved in fund-raising and campaigning to counter what it called “radical groups” that are involved in Republican Party politics in Kansas.
Those groups named by KTRM included the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity. Both are anti-tax groups linked to the state’s top Republican officeholder, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, who is one of the most socially conservative lawmakers in the country and has indicated he may run for president, and Wichita-based Koch Industries, which funds numerous conservative and libertarian think tanks and whose owners have been longtime movers and shakers in Kansas politics. ...
Ryan Wright, the executive director of the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority, said the party had strayed so far from its roots that a venerated Kansan, former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, would have trouble winning a GOP primary today. ...
Meanwhile, another group has formed to reclaim, as it says, the core of mainstream Kansas values. The nonpartisan Kansas Alliance for Education, headed by lifelong Republican Don Hineman, is dedicated to unseating the 6-4 majority on the state school board. [Lawrence Journal-World]
Of course, then there's the point Tom Frank made in his response to my question about "over-reaching" in an interview right after the elections:
LC: In terms of opportunity for that kind of strategy, is there a danger that the Bush administration will move so far to the right – thanks to the evangelicals – as to provoke a backlash of their own?
FRANK: Will they go too far and turn the public against them? Only if we are ready with a message that’s ready to make that happen. ...
So, of course, they’re overreaching. They’re frightening people. And if they get their way on Roe vs. Wade, it will make them extremely unpopular. But we have to be standing by. We have to be ready to kick their ass. And, I’m ready. Hey, I’m ready to go. Wind me up and turn me loose. (laughs) But the Democrats have to be ready too. [AlterNet interview]
Lakshmi Chaudhry is a senior editor at In These Times, and the former senior editor of AlterNet. You can write to her at [email protected].
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