Partisan Politics are not Mainstream

The Mainstream Coalition was founded over 25 years ago to protect the separation of church and state. It was founded by Republicans and Democrats, and to this day still has both on its Board of Directors. We have always been a nonpartisan organization. It does not matter to us what party anyone belongs to, still, today.

What has mattered to the organization, from that first day, is that every Kansan be given the same opportunities, the same dignity, the same respect for their beliefs as every other Kansan. It began as a respect for the religious beliefs of everyone, and a fight to keep any one religion’s morality from being codified into law. That ethos, that respect for every Kansan, has naturally led us to take positions on many issues from education to taxes, health care to civil rights.

We are for freedom of religion, not against religious expression. We are for gun safety, not against gun ownership. We are pro-choice, not pro-abortion. We are for sustainable taxes for everyone, not against wealthy people. You can read about where we stand on our website.

You may look at those positions and label them progressive, but we have always seen them as compassionate. These positions stem from the same principles that guided our founding, and those principles have not changed. Instead, it is the ground that has shifted under our feet as politics has become increasingly partisan. There is very little “middle ground” anymore, and almost no appetite for compromise.

For years we were known as the organization for “moderate” Republicans, so much that we would joke that if Democrats and Republicans were both angry at us, we were probably doing something right. But the truth is, we have always recognized that to move the needle for Kansans, we could not get it done with just one side. It is why we have been willing to work with politicians and organizations that may not see eye to eye with us on every issue. Frankly, in Kansas it is difficult to hold a litmus test position on many issues. Gun safety, for example, is one where even Democrats are not all on the same page.

Partisan politics makes governing impossible

When Donald Trump was elected in 2016, the trend we had seen for extremist partisanship in politics accelerated. Where before, we could count on politicians from both parties to listen and work together, today, that is passing rare.

Here are a few examples.

  • Take the proposed 2020 amendment to strip personal health rights from the Kansas Constitution. We have always supported a woman’s right to make decisions about her own health, and fought the extremist drive to impose one religion’s morality on every Kansan. We used to count on centrists to represent all of their constituents, not just the vocal ones they needed for re-election. But this year, one such politician looked me in the eye and told me they would not vote for the amendment, then did. The amendment was defeated, thanks to some legislators who crossed party lines, but those legislators were then defeated n their party primaries in August, widening the partisan gulf.

  • Nonpartisan organizations like the League of Women Voters and the Shawnee Mission Post have held candidate forums for years. They have been well attended, informative, and a boon to undecided voters. This year, one party’s candidates are refusing to show up, retreating into their echo chambers, robbing voters of an opportunity to learn about their positions.

  • Politicians who have long stood, and voted, against the full funding of public education in Kansas have risen up here during COVID-19, passing themselves off as protectors of learning, and preying on parents who are looking for reassurance during the pandemic. 

When politicians refuse to listen, to work together, to be honest with their constituents, governing becomes impossible. This last session of the Kansas Legislature was headed for a partisan stalemate, when COVID-19 interrupted it. But even a pandemic couldn’t stop the Legislature from crippling the Governor's power to protect Kansans, even while she worked to accept compromises in order to keep us safe. The result of this partisan retrenching? A longer epidemic of both infectious disease and economic disaster.

What can we do?

To make Kansas better for everyone, we have to overcome, or sidestep, the partisan direction of our politics. Here are a few ways we can begin to move that particular needle.

Vote. Vote for candidates who listen, who promise to work for every constituent, who understand that governing is harder than campaigning. Our PAC has endorsed a slate of candidates like that, and you can see them here.

Support organizations you believe in that are doing advocacy work on behalf of everyone, regardless of religion, race, gender, or anything else. The Mainstream Coalition is one of those, and we would welcome you to take action with us.

Finally, talk about these issues with the people you know and care about. Break out of your own echo chamber, and break into someone else’s. Go there armed with facts and compassion, listen, and learn, and maybe they will do the same. Voter to Voter is a tool that can help you reach your friends and family.

Thank you,

Danny Novo
Communications Director

Do you like this post?

Showing 1 reaction

published this page in Blog 2020-10-02 11:00:08 -0500
Sign Up

if you are new to MainStream.

Sign In

if you're a Member or part of our network.