While nobody pays a lot of attention to political party platforms, Kansas Democrats last weekend got their new platform at DemoFest in Wichita. And if many Kansans do bother reading it, well, it’s got a few interesting little provisions the state’s Demos are supposed to abide by, or at least find ways to talk around.
The platform, which Democrats decided to write this summer ahead of next year’s campaigns for House seats and statewide offices, virtually was buried in the party’s internal leadership scrap over ousting (maybe she was, maybe she wasn’t) state party secretary Casey Yingling. The platform makes relatively interesting reading.
There’s that provision that says Kansas Democrats — if they pay attention to the platform — endorse legislation that would legalize marijuana in Kansas, not just for medicinal purposes, but for all purposes. That means recreational use, which means some law-abiding eastern Kansans won’t have to drive clear to Colorado to smoke weed like they did in their college days. Oh, and that full legalization might even turn a few bucks for the state if it figures out how to tax pot, much like Colorado did and much like Kansas does with liquor.
And there’s a provision that puts Democrats, at least philosophically, in favor of paid family and medical leave from their employers — and a Sen. Bernie Sanders-style transition to a single-payer health-care system, the “Medicare for all” plan which some with problems getting health insurance likely would appreciate, along with more attention to home and community-based health services for Kansans with disabilities.
Voting? Democrats would like same-day voter registration, and at some point making Election Day a legal holiday — which they maintain would increase turnout.
The pitch for rural prosperity by Democrats? It’s support for continuation of crop insurance at reasonable prices and expanding Internet broadband service to rural areas.
Now, this is just a platform, and candidates can either talk about it or not, but some of those provisions might expand interest in the party by voters who, when presented with two candidates at a general election, don’t just vote as their parents did but take a chance with a Democratic vote just because at some point, they might see support for something that a local candidate might not talk about, but which his or her party supports.
Will Democrats pick up some rural voters with their support for crop insurance? The typically Republican rural House districts might just, maybe, take a look at federal efforts to reduce crop insurance or raise its price and the efforts by Kansas Republicans in Congress to defend those Kansas-important programs which are solid. Is it helpful, or just a platform guarantee that Democrats are there, too, in Kansas?
And a single-payer health insurance effort? Even with the anti-ObamaCare tilt of the GOP, at some point, Kansans are going to have to make sure that under one plan or another, insurance is available and affordable. And, even anti-ObamaCare Republicans who are challenged with health insurance costs probably don’t want caps on benefits or sharply higher rates for those with pre-existing conditions.
OK, platforms are just platforms, nothing hard, nothing that candidates must support or even mention, but it’s a tilt of a party toward issues that voters either like or don’t or probably have thought about. And that’s why it’s probably worth time Googling the Kansas Democratic Party platform to see whether you like it or you don’t.
It probably gives voters a little more to talk about through the screen door next summer when Democrats are campaigning for House seats, just in case those candidates left an item or two off their palmcards — or couldn’t afford to print out the full 13-page platform to hand out door-to-door.
Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report.