Allow us a moment to vent.
Candidates in Kansas this election need to do better. We’re seeing them refuse interviews with news outlets and turn down public forums at the last minute. They’re actively refusing to engage with their would-be constituents on the issues.
At the same time, what are we seeing? A deluge of negative ads, on TV, on the web and in our mailboxes every day. They level vicious attacks on their opponents, accompanying them with the kind of nonsensical rumor-mongering that seemed fashionable in third grade (did you know my opponent has cooties?).
We understand why.
This election is being driven by an explosive national contest. With President Trump at the top of the ballot, local issues would be drowned out anyhow. Why bother making nuanced arguments or outlining plans when you can attack your opponent as being a far-left supporter of the Green New Deal? Never mind the fact that Kansas has done very well in the field of renewable energy and a fair number of progressive voters.
But here’s the thing. We all lose when candidates evade the tough questions. Because as much as elections are about cultural moments, they’re also about the policies that our government ends up pursuing.
Do you want to expand Medicaid in the state, for example? Polls have shown solid majorities of Kansans have supported the move for years. But many of their legislators, especially those in leadership positions, don’t want to do that. Do you want to make sure that our K-12 education system is fully funded? Most Kansans support that too — but a fair number of legislators see it as ripe for cuts or damage disguised as reform.
Actual discussion of the issues would make these differences clear. Grilling by the press or everyday voters would force candidates to say where they stand and why. Sure, they might lose some votes if people learned what they actually believed. But they might gain some, too.
The ultimate choice is up to you, the voter.
If you cast your ballot for a candidate who doesn’t answer questions or who obscures his or her views, are you supporting that kind of behavior? Or would it be better to vote for someone honest and forthright, even if you don’t agree with every one of his or her positions?
We know where we stand on this. But where do you?