Unique to Kansas

There's never been anything like it. Not in Kansas. Not anywhere, really.

Are we talking about the economic crash experienced by Kansas since Sam Brownback enacted his income tax cuts? The record number of missed revenue estimates? The successive credit rating downgrades? The shuttering of rural hospitals? The number of articles in the national press abut Kansas' fate under Brownback? The number of late-night jokes with Kansas in the punchline?

Well, yes, and no. All of that is true, of course, Kansas is in the direst state anyone can remember. But we are talking about another unique situation.

The unprecedented event we saw this year was the coming together of four former Governors of the State of Kansas—two Republican, two Democrat—to repudiate the policies of a sitting governor and his administration. It should have been shocking, but in today's political atmosphere, it felt like a welcome breath of fresh air.

Governors Carlin, Graves, Hayden, and Sebelius toured the state, talking about the disastrous policies of our current Governor, and urging citizens to make a change this year. They spoke about the economy, education, and the tax cuts. And they spoke about the urgent need to retain all the judges on the Supreme Court, to protect the court's fair and impartial history.

Kansas is a state that, since the 1950s, has elected as many Democrats as Republicans to the Governor's mansion, because we are a traditionally moderate state, where even people on different sides of an issue have always been able to find common ground. These former governors, elected by the people of Kansas, have found common ground in opposing the destructive policies of the current administration.

But are they really all that unique? Is common ground, cross-party pragmatism that hard to find? We would argue that it isn't, but in today's polarized political climate, it isn't popular to confess to compromise, to admit to fighting for a common good. MainStream has always stood for our common values, despite the prevailing political winds. These four individuals have been steadfast in their party allegiances, but share a common love for all that is Kansas. And there, they have found their common ground.

For this clear-eyed courage, the MainStream Education Foundation is honoring these four former governors in this Year of the Activist at our annual awards dinner, Stand Up, Speak Out.

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