As the 2018 election races toward the finish line on Nov. 6, candidates from both parties have stooped to their old tricks of slinging mud, name calling and finger pointing at one another. Why can’t candidates do what’s right for this nation and focus on issues?

Instead, we are forced to put up with elected officials who pursue their own agendas, grow the government, do nothing and engage in gridlock.

What Kansas and this nation sorely need is leadership and a willingness among all elected officials to work together for the good of this country.

What do you think the framers of our Constitution and this republic would say about what’s going on in all three branches of government today?

What would Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson think about our way of conducting the nation’s business?

What would Kansas’s own favorite son, Dwight D. Eisenhower say about the way we’re conducting this country’s business today?

What about Frank Carlson, Alf Landon, Andy Schoeppel and other Kansas leaders of yesteryear think?

Profound?

Enlightening?

Telling?

Absolutely.

Where are the ideas for leading and uniting this great state and nation?

Isn’t that what they’re supposed to be doing?

Farmers, ranchers and businessmen cannot, and do not want to engage in the same game of blaming one party for the charade going on in Washington and among some of our own state leaders. This is a shared shame and a weakness that is ruining our state and nation.

In spite of claims to the contrary, taxes continue to increase. The only way for the tax-and-spend cycle to be broken is to hold candidates accountable. The citizenry of Kansas and this country must demand candidates clearly state their positions on the issues.

Today’s politicians and most of the candidates have become so adept at ducking the issues. They rival a young Muhammad Ali’s ability to float like a butterfly, always out of reach and accountability.

Not only do voters rarely have a chance to ask candidates questions, they have even less chance of receiving a worthwhile answer.

Some candidates also talk out of both sides of their mouth. They tell one gathering of voters one thing and others just the opposite.

They also barrage voters with wave after wave of rhetoric, hoping to obscure their real views. They’re not called politicians for nothing.

This year’s election is just around the corner. Whether we like what’s been happening in government or not, the mess we’re in remains our own.

It’s our system, and while it may appear broken, we still must vote. Past elections demonstrate rural voters can make a difference by their willingness to go to the polls.

Fiscal responsibility, a reduction in the size of government and increased productivity remain a sound prescription for this country’s economic troubles. The bigger problem of cooperation and compromise while working together for the good of this country must be addressed as well – if these remedies are to work.

Urge your friends, family and neighbors to cast their votes Nov. 6. Vote your heart, mind and the issues – not just party lines.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.