The midterms are over. What passes for normalcy can return. The 2020 presidential campaign is around the corner. Let us enjoy a brief respite from the clamor of electioneering.
Kansas and Missouri can both provide convincing evidence that candidate selection is crucial. In Missouri, an extremely appealing young candidate for senator, Josh Hawley, took out the veteran Clair McCaskill, who went to the well once too often, and who had been tip-toeing on thin air for some time, in a rather convincing manner.
In Kansas, Laura Kelly, the policy wonk and candidate with the down-home, soft-spoken manner, handily defeated the loud, flamboyant Kris Kobach. Stereotypical Kansas understatement seemed the winner. The long-time tradition of passing Cedar Crest regularly between the two parties held.
The flame-out of Greg Orman, the independent candidate who garnered only 6 percent of the vote, was a bit spectacular. The political future of his running-mate, John Doll, will be interesting to watch. Doll has held non-partisan office in city government and has sought partisan office as a Democrat, a Republican, and now an Independent with varying degrees of success. Who can match that resumé?
On the national scene, the caravan to the south, slowly inching its way toward Mexico City, can go back to being a large crowd of desperate, footsore and exhausted central Americans seeking a better life. Their time in the sun as a sinister invading army ended on election day. The large contingent of heavily armed soldiers, representing the most powerful nation in the world, which was sent to the border to unroll wire barricades and otherwise assist the border patrol, will now have to live without the attention of the news media.
This rag-tag caravan, which is dwindling in size rather rapidly, and which is the latest in the many which have formed and headed north utilizing the safety of numbers, will probably be only a few hundred when it reaches the U.S. border. Most will proceed to designated check-points and apply for asylum with refugee status. It is a formal administrative process utilized by most countries. Their case will be considered by a specialized court and many will be denied entry. Many more will have applied for refugee status in Mexico than will attempt U.S. entry. And those terrorists and Middle-Eastern warriors, which were thought to have decided to walk 2,000 miles to attack the U.S., will have vanished.
The caravan saga, which will surely loom large when the history of the 2018 midterm election is written, was an obvious political ploy which probably accomplished its purpose. P.T. Barnum was surely on to something. And politics is no stranger to the weaving of a virtual tapestry representing urgent, dire crisis. It is a tried and true formula.
Overall, the election was either a great Democrat victory or a great Republican victory, depending upon who is telling the story. The blue wave is still slowly building as the vote count continues, the repudiation of Trumpism was dulled by the Trump-favoring Senate electoral map and the return to divided government was entirely predictable. Gillum, Beto and Stacey Abrams created excitement and acquitted themselves well but ended by apparently losing their races although two of them are still counting.
In total, the evening ended much as predicted. The Democrats flipped the House of Representatives and the Republicans made a small gain in the Senate. Gridlock in Washington is alive and well and most of us will now return to living our lives and searching for a new subject to wrestle with at the coffee shop.
Already the important stuff, like K-State football, KU basketball and the glory ride of the Kansas City Chiefs, has come to rule the day. The stress of political disagreement among family members, golfing buddies and bridge foursomes will fade to the background only to be revived as the next Election Day approaches.
Those of us who put pen to paper can now turn to mulling issues and policies and proposed legislation without the reality of considering the partisan edge of readers which is sharpened by imminent elections. Divided government requires dialogue and some degree of compromise if even marginal effectiveness is sought.
If our new Democrat governor can find a way to work with a comfortably Republican legislature it can provide a worthwhile example for us all. And such has worked in the past. The Sebelius era worked pretty well and many Republicans seem to believe Gov.-elect Laura Kelly can replicate that period. As Kansans, we must hope that is the case.
Our state needs a dose of common, productive effort. We’re a bit weary of theoretical experiments.
Jack Wempe grew up in the Hutchinson area and is a former educator, state legislator and member of the Kansas Board of Regents now living in Lyons. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.