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SPOTLIGHT
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Convincing the other side it's the wrong side

Published on -9/11/2012, 8:00 AM

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Kansas Democrats returning from their national convention in Charlotte, N.C., are hoping to focus their general election campaign on three distinct groups of voters they believe they can motivate to support Democrats.

It clearly becomes a matter of time -- how much time they will be able to spend on the front porch, giving Democrats a reason to get out and vote Democratic; unaffiliated voters reason to vote ... and vote Democratic.

And, the big job? To craft a way to succinctly -- remember, someone is probably holding a screen door open -- convince Republicans their party has taken a turn that virtually shuts them out of any meaningful participation in government, which is the whole reason for putting on a clean shirt to go out and vote on Nov. 6.

That's going to be a tough job in a state that is largely Republican and where Republicans (with Democratic votes) have traditionally elected near-icons that the state has been proud of -- such as Sens. Nancy Landon Kassebaum, Bob Dole, James Pearson and former President Dwight Eisenhower.

That is where Kansas Democrats at a breakfast meeting during their national convention were given some ideas that don't normally surface during those doorstep or telephone or social media or even just plain old mail interactions with potential voters.

It's explaining the back side of popular ideas like cutting taxes and reducing government spending.

Cutting budgets? Sounds good, but the key may be moderation, not wholesale cuts. Because if the federal government cuts spending on, say, Medicare or Medicaid, unless the state beefs up spending on those two programs, what happens?

Well, immediately, fewer people get services, or individual people get fewer services. That means that hospitals and nursing homes get less revenue and so raise rates for everyone else who uses those hospitals or health-care facilities or nursing homes (think higher insurance premiums), or they just close. Not a good thing in rural areas, where hospitals and nursing homes are far apart -- and may become farther apart.

Or, how about cutting down spending on public education? Less federal money spent on education means more state spending on education or more local property tax spending on education -- or maybe just less education.

Those may be among the issues Democrats use to pry moderate Republicans away from their now-more-conservative party. But, it'll have to be done quickly, frequently and uniformly in less than two months.

The Democrats learned they also have the job of bringing the last two weeks of national convention hoopla down to races for the Kansas Legislature. That far-away Washington stuff including election of a president does trickle down to votes made in Topeka by lawmakers who you might run into at the grocery store or the mall. They'll decide whether your property tax bills go up or whether you get that off-ramp from the highway, or the local nursing home or hospital stays open.

It'll be tough. Tax cuts sound good... but have you ever noticed how few footnotes you see on bumper stickers? Kansas Democrats are going to have to create and then explain them. All while someone is probably holding the screen door open.

Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report. To learn more about this statewide nonpartisan political news service, visit www.hawvernews.com.

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