Over these last days, I am just sure the world has gone crazy! I am a 52 year old liberal woman from Kansas. It seems at times I am mostly alone in a sea of conservatism. I wonder sometimes how we have come to this. Kansas was not always this way. Sure, we have always leaned right, but we used to elect really strong democrats too. For example, we elected Kathleen Sebelius...twice! But the winds of change have been blowing since Barack Obama was elected president the first time in 2008. Racism seems to be the unspoken pox which is evident with every editorial I read in the local newspaper and clouds every discussion about politics I hear. And what is with the guns? I have lived my entire life in Kansas and I have never needed, I have never wanted or even held a gun. What is everyone so afraid of? For god sakes, we live in Kansas! We don't live in Chicago. We don't live in the projects of New York City. We live in Kansas! This is a place where we can walk without worrying about our safety. Where our kids can play outside. Where they have a whole town of parents who watch their every move. I would always tell my kids, I will know what you are doing before you do it! I was always proud to live here. Proud of our bleeding Kansas history of rebuffing slavery in the 1800's and becoming a free state. It seems all of this has changed. We now seem to fold right into the hatefulness of the great southern tradition.
My husband and I now live in Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, but we raised our five kids in a small town of about 2500 people 90 miles north of here. We had a small group of friends who were couples who had kids the same ages as ours. We pretty much raised them with the same values. All the kids grew up together and remain good friends to this day. Each of them grew up successful, college educated and all think fondly of their childhood in this small town. But recently my husband and I had reason to return to our small town and were shocked to see what had become of our friends who remained there. To our horror, they had all become gun activists! One had recently bought an AR-15 and three other guns. They were concerned about the government just breaking down their doors in the middle of the night to rip the guns from their hands! They were sure that Newtown was a conspiracy for the government to pass laws to take away everything they had. They could not speak the President's name without a sneer. These are all college educated people! They make up the professional class in this town. Again I ask, just what has happened??
As a liberal in Kansas, I am used to bing in the minority in most discussions here. But, how do I now even begin to have a discussion with my friends who seem to have adopted absolutely crazy ideas? Something real fundamental has happened here. This is my theory....FOX news has happened here! FOX news became part of their cable line up in the early 2000's. I believe FOX news plays a critical role along with physical isolation from other views and other types of people who could show them other cultures really aren't so scary. The farmers among them listen to Rush Limbaugh all day, as it is one of the few stations they can get on their tractors. So with this constant stoking and isolationism, they have developed a palpable fear of the outside world. A fear, they think, only guns can equalize. I just want to tell them things really haven't changed that much since we were raising our kids 20 years ago. This is still Kansas!
I tell them to quit watching FOX news or at least get other sources to inform their views. Read other sources than the Drudge Report. They feel this way of thinking normal and everyone shares these crazy views. I would think the recent election would show them otherwise, but it didn't. They seem even more hardened in their views.
I asked them, just what has changed over the last four years for them? From what I can tell things have only gotten better for them. Several of their children bought their starter homes using the President's mortgage credit program several years ago. Some are farmers who have received significant farm aid. None of the farmers pay a dime in taxes. They go on trips to Alaska and Europe. I just don't get it!
If things here have gotten worse, we need only to look at our crazy Governor. Sam Brownback was elected governor here in 2010 and is on his way to decimating our state. His cuts to education and taxes will surely blow apart small town Kansas. God knows how we are going to end up after he gets done experimenting on our lives. I know when Brownback comes up for re-election in 2014, there will be no democrat running to oppose him. Democrats make up about 35-38% of the Kansas voters, but we have no representation in the state house. When there is a election, I always do my duty and go vote, knowing all the while my vote will count for exactly nothing. Then national Democratic party sees Kansas as a no win situation. Kansas is really lost and I have no hope we will find our way out this abyss anytime soon.
3:31 PM PT: This being my first post to Daily Kos, I am grateful for all of the comments and insights from like minded people. It is so refreshing to hear!