Good Things

This is a letter from Ed Peterson, MainStream's new Board President. See a list of the 2019 Board of Directors here.

Ed Peterson
Ed Peterson
Board President

I recently re-watched a 1963 movie about a plot to take over the federal government. The driving motivation for the plot was fear generated by an international arms treaty. Most striking was the language: “The treaty will make America weak! The treaty is the work of evil ‘intellectuals.’ America is being overrun by people who don’t belong!” Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Fear and demagoguery were and are the issue; only the labels have been changed to fit the times.

Perhaps we should take some comfort in the knowledge that today’s problems are not new to our country and that we survived them in the past. In reality, good things are happening, notwithstanding the perceptions cast by daily events and social media. If you take a step back from the circus stories coming from Washington to study the events immediately around us, you will see lots of good work by good people.

In Washington, new U.S. House Representative Sharice Davids is already working to right the direction of the country. In Topeka, a new moderate governor, Laura Kelly, is beginning work on the right priorities for Kansans: funding public education, expanding Medicaid, and restoring state services, particularly children and family services. And we look forward to working with newly elected and returning moderate legislators in the Kansas House of Representatives. These changes present the opportunity for pragmatic governance that once characterized Kansas politics.

Closer to home, the Johnson County Commission will begin work this year with two new women commissioners, moderates on a board that had taken a pronounced move to conservatism and away from common sense local government.

These positive changes are the results of some really good things that happened in 2018. These newly elected officials stepped up in 2018 to lead the way. Their campaigns and supporters engaged to push the voters to participate. New interest groups that are focused on reversing recent trends also played an important role in obtaining good election results.

MainStream is proud to have been part of this effort. We knocked on over 32,000 doors in targeted districts. We spent over $200,000 in the primary and general elections. Our get-out-the-vote efforts contributed to measurable results:

  • Where we canvassed, primary voter turnout improved from 24% in 2014 to 37% in 2018;
  • Voters we identified as supporting our positions improved their voting turnout from 31% to 52%.

Our Voter-to-Voter engagement program produced even higher returns especially among people who rarely if ever voted. One remarkable feature of these MainStream efforts is that they were made in partnership with many diverse groups who all want better and more-representative government in Kansas.

Moving into 2019 MainStream begins its 26th year. Fear and extremism are evident today, so our task to assure moderation remains. We will continue the work of being a non-partisan organization dedicated to moderate effective government. We will be present as the Kansas Legislature takes up issues such as education funding and expanded health care opportunities. And we will continue to build the framework for electing moderate candidates to office in 2020. Good things are happening, and MainStream is one of them.

Ed Peterson's Signature

Ed Peterson
Board President, MainStream Coalition and Education Foundation

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