Searching for something to vote
by Bruce Rodgers
Like tens of
thousands of area citizens on Aug. 3, I didnt vote. Admittedly,
I felt a little guilty, as through the years Ive been a fairly
consistent voter. But this time I made a conscious decision not to
go to the polls. My reason, like many I suppose, is that I really
had nothing or no one to vote for.
I live in Kansas, Prairie Village. There wasnt a city issue
on the ballot, the county commissioners in my district werent
up for reelection, my state representative, a Republican, had no challenger
either within his own party or from the Democrats and the state senate
race in my district was between two Republicans while the Democratic
candidate was unopposed.
As a registered independent in Johnson County, I could have gotten
a Democratic ballot and voted, but I would have had exactly one vote
to cast, for the Democratic guy running for the state senate.
The Democrats in Johnson County are so puny and inconsequential; it
appears running as Democrat in any race has about as much prestige
as getting one of the special envelopes from Publishers
Clearinghouse. And its strange in a way that the Democrats are
so weak considering Dennis Moore has been in Congress for two terms,
and has a good shot at being reelected in November.
Why dont the Democrats build their presence in Johnson County
around U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore? Could be because Moore has a habit
of running away from is Democratic roots come reelection time to attract
moderate Republicans. Hard to build a party presence when the main
party officeholder in the county (not counting Wyandotte or Douglas)
seems real shy about embracing the party come election time.
On Aug. 3, I could have given up my independent voter status and asked
for a Republican ballot. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans dont
have an open primary. Becoming a Republican in order to vote against
conservative Republicans is something Ive done in the past.
Afterwards, I would always re-register and return to my independent
status. But it was somewhat of a hassle and a little disingenuous.
Being an independent in Kansas means come primary time,
there isnt much of a choice. With Democrats perennial lost wanderers
of the political prairie in Kansas, and with the states restrictive
laws on third-party access, it isnt likely to change much.
In neighboring Missouri, the politics surrounding Aug. 3 were more
interesting. And theres bound to be some wash over of issues
from Missouri to Kansas, namely the constitutional proposal outlawing
gay marriage. Unfortunately, I predict the margin of support in voting
to place an opportunity for discrimination and bigotry into the Kansas
Constitution will be greater than the 70% in support in Missouri.
Forget terrorism. What this country is really afraid of is gays and
lesbians getting married. Sad that we ignore real threats to freedom
and buy into imaginary scenarios based on ignorance. But it is indicative
how much religious beliefs have captured the domestic agenda with
social conservatives determining the extent of rights afforded individuals.
Gay marriage, alone, could be the issue that determines the reelection
of George W. Bush.
Unfortunately, the issues so-called values determinant
will also along with a host of other social conservative causes
including abortion, school prayer, intelligent design and school vouchers
dampen the Democratic message and push the party rightward.
Add to that the fact that the Republican Party no longer formulates
its policies among party standardbearers. Such intellectual pursuits
have been taken over by conservative think tanks coupled with toleration
for the emotional appeals of those issues tied to social conservatism.
Those elements, and the institutional barriers erected to hamper third-party
involvement on the ballot, will continue to have independents searching
for something or someone to vote for.
Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at