Republicans and their teabagger cohort have claimed they want to take the country back to an era of wonderment, morality, and prosperity if only they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Their Koch brother funders claim, like Republicans, that if Americans could only understand the beauty of their libertarian vision for America, they would vote en masse for Republicans and watch the country thrive and prosper economically in a socially conservative promised land where religion and Koch ideology rules.
If any American took the most extreme Republican members of Congress and combined them into one super-conservative, they would produce Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Brownback is a religious right extremist, Koch brother and ALEC ideologue, anti-government teabagger, and Bush-economic sycophant with an equally hard-right legislature taking Kansas in the direction Republicans want to take America. The state of Kansas is precisely what Koch-Republicans envision for America if not for those pesky Democrats in the Senate and the White House, and they want voter approval to replicate for the entire country what the Kochs and Brownback’s administration did for Kansas.
As reported here and here, Kansas is going broke and on the path to bankruptcy thanks to Brownback’s adherence to the Republican habit of giving the state’s assets to the rich in the form of tax cuts. For the second time in two months, another credit rating agency downgraded Kansas financial situation. Moody’s downgraded Kansas in May, and this week Standard and Poor’s followed suit citing “a structurally unbalanced budget following state income tax cuts” that a Kansas professor of public finance said will certainly get worse. Kenneth Kriz said, “not only was the state downgraded, but it was put on what is called a ‘negative outlook’ watch” he claims means more downgrades are likely. Kriz continued that “the real issue here is business. One of the things businesses look at when deciding on an area is the credit rating.” Kansas is lagging the nation in job creation, revenue is non-existent, education is starved of funding, and the state could not afford $100,000 to keep homeless shelters for children open. However, the economic devastation is just one aspect of a completely Republican government.
Kansas under Brownback’s leadership epitomizes extreme Koch brother policies they helped enact by engineering a Republican-Tea Party legislature that it is arguably the most conservative, religious, and libertarian in the nation; a legislature and governor that believe, like national Republicans, they are on a mission from god. Subsequently, they have dealt Kansas some serious Old Testament ruination that is a portent of what a Koch-directed Republican government will subject the entire nation to if given the chance.
In a typical Koch brother and ALEC move, Brownback attacked teachers’ unions by enacting ALEC template legislation called “innovation zones” allowing school districts to ignore existing state laws regarding education curriculum and collectively-bargained teacher salaries. Brownback also unconstitutionally slashed education funding to the bone leading the Kansas Supreme Court to order him to restore the funding, and abolished all arts programs across the board just for fun.
Since the Koch brothers helped install a Republican legislature and governor, Brownback closely-adhered to their ALEC privatization scam and privatized Medicaid to shift federal healthcare funding for the poor to private corporations, and Brownback rejected free Medicaid expansion to further restrict poor Kansas resident’s access to medical care and cement his standing as a “true religious conservative.”
While Brownback was a United States senator, he built up a reputation as an extremely religious social conservative, and with a willing legislature at his beck and call, he immediately attacked women’s reproductive rights with religious zeal. Brownback earned his Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and National Right to Life Committee bona fides for assailing women so Americans can see how religious Republicans intend on taking women back to the Dark Ages.
Brownback and the Republican legislature defunded Planned Parenthood, imposed one of the harshest anti-abortion laws in the nation, unilaterally declared that life begins at zygote (fertilization), and forced the last remaining abortion providers to read a religious script with medically false, and frightening, propaganda to women seeking the procedure. To punctuate the point that he governs Kansas according to his deeply-held Christian beliefs, Brownback wrote the words “Jesus + Mary” at the top of the bill when he signed it.
The Kansas Republicans did not fail to impress gun or 10th Amendment fanatics when they passed the “Second Amendment Protection Act” declaring Kansas is immune to federal gun safety laws because it is a “sovereign state.” In April, Brownback signed legislation that prohibits all county and municipal initiatives in place to regulate firearms and ammunition as a nod to the NRA’s supremacy over local communities and counties; its power over the state government was never in question.
It is difficult to feel empathy for Kansas residents because they did vote for the Koch brother, religious right “demolition team” decimating the state, but to be fair, they were heavily influenced by big money from the Koch brothers who were desperate to reveal how wonderful their vision for the country worked in a state that was their “beta test” for the entire nation. Republicans cannot claim any longer that their grand experiment and Koch vision would work marvelously if only they had control of the Senate and White House, because they have total control of Kansas and their ideology has devastated the state economically, sent women to the Dark Ages, and put education back 20 years.
Everything Sam Brownback and the Kansas Republican legislature enacted has been introduced by Republicans in the House and Senate whether it is assigning “personhood” to zygotes, eviscerating education, privatizing Medicaid and Medicare, or handing nation’s revenue stream directly to corporations and the rich. Everything national Republicans and the Koch brothers have dreamt of enacting over the past five years was imposed on Kansas and is a monumental disaster for the state and the people.
Even current and former Kansas Republicans acknowledge the abject failure of the Koch-Republican economic vision and it led over 100 of them to endorse Brownback’s Democratic opponent citing both his catastrophic economic scheme and extremist agenda as a disaster for Kansas. They stopped short of calling it a Koch brother disaster likely because the Kochs are Kansas boys. For contrast, a state Republicans and the Kochs hate with biblical passion, California, is leading the nation in both prosperity and jobs because of a voter-approved tax increase and strong environmental regulations. In fact, California is in the black, increasing funding for education and social programs, and paying down the debilitating debt incurred from the last Republican administration.
This column has said it before, but if Americans want to know what the Republican, teabagger, Koch, and ALEC agenda will mean for America if Republicans gain control of Congress and the White House, they now have a living, breathing, and bleeding example in Kansas. A few months ago Charles Koch penned an op-ed complaining that no-one appreciates his vision for America because it has never been given a chance. Now that the Koch vision is a reality in Kansas, it is doubtful that Republicans will do anything other than push harder to see it enacted nationally because wreaking devastation on the economy and the people is what they do best; just ask Kansas residents.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.