I’ve heard it said that the genius of the American Constitution has nothing to do with the presidency; it has to do with separation of powers – checks and balances. This simple, yet brilliance principle has kept both State and National governments from running off the rails, keeping one ideological side from ruling in perpetuity, and providing the accountability which forces representatives toward compromise.
For the next two years, checks and balances no longer exist in Kansas.
2012 was an interesting year for Kansas politics. A libertarian candidate for congress legally changed his name to Thomas Jefferson. A Westboro Baptist church member (the God hates fags people), ran for State School Board on a anti-evolution and anti-fornication platform. Conservative Republican Representative Kevin Yoder had to apologize for skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee while on a lobbyist-paid vacation trip. And there was a great civil war in the Republican Party.
As a Red State, Kansas state politics is all about the Republican Party. For the past two decades the two major players in Topeka have not been Republicans v. Democrats, but Conservative Republicans v. Moderate Republicans. Checks and balances have sometimes been hard to come by, which may be why such a conservative State has so often elected Democratic Governors: Robert Docking, John Carlin, Joan Finney, and Kathleen Sebelius.
In 2012 the longstanding rivalry between the Moderate and Conservative wings of the Republican Party in Kansas got ugly. Backed by powerful special interests like the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, The Koch Brother’s Americans for Prosperity, and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, Kansas Conservatives won the war and all but wiped out all moderates from the government.
Convening in Topeka this January will be the most univocally conservative government in Kansas history. Conservatives will have absolute power in Kansas for the next four years at least, they can do whatever they want. Checks and balances will hardly exist.
What little checks and balances that do exists because of the Judicial branch, Brownback seems intent to curb as he moves to take more power for the Governor to appoint judges. The Moderates in the Kansas Senate were the only checks to the conservative agenda of Governor Brownback and the new GOP leadership and they are gone. It’s going to be interesting to watch.
I think it could be a disaster, and I suppose it could be a huge success. Time will tell. My prediction? You don’t know what you’ve got (checks & balances), until it’s gone.