How I long for the days when Republicans elected to public office in Kansas were sane—as in approachable, willing to listen and discuss alternative perspectives, willing to compromise so that everyone got a little something.
I was a registered Republican for years. I voted for Gerry Ford, Nancy Kassebaum, Mike Hayden. I worked for Wendell Lady, former speaker of the Kansas House, when he ran for governor.
In 1983, as part of the requirements for my first master’s degree in Urban Affairs from Wichita State, I did an internship in the Kansas Legislature. I was assigned to then-Sen. Paul Hess—not a great experience, but I got to hang out and talk policy with some terrific Republican legislators, especially Reps. Sandy Duncan, Neil Whitaker and Belva Ott. I came to know Representatives Wanda Fuller and Bob Frey a bit.
Later, I worked for Mike Hayden in his successful gubernatorial campaign and served on his Task Force for Mental Health Reform. I met and worked with Attorney General Bob Stephen on the issue of domestic violence. His transformation from a law enforcement officer to an advocate of domestic violence victims was impressive.
It’s not just the current crop of Republicans elected to office who are deaf and blind to the perspectives of others. Some everyday citizens suffer the same malady.
It’s not their indifference or apathy that appalls me. It’s their rage and hatred towards me and people like me who don’t share their views.
I’m convinced that we have more in common than we have differences. We really do want better futures for our children and our grandchildren. The difference seems to be how we define “better future” and how we get there from here. I define “better future” as women having control over their own bodies and medical decisions, while some believe that the state should control women’s bodies and decisions about medical care.
It’s not their indifference or apathy that appalls me. It’s their rage and hatred towards me and people like me who don’t share their views. – Cindy Entriken
I love babies, and I was thrilled when my daughter got pregnant, and I became a grandmother. She was at a age and had the marital, financial, familial and educational support to ensure that the baby would come into the world with a better than even chance of starting life successfully.
But not all women have those supports, and if they bring babies into the world, those babies don’t have a better than even chance, especially when “pro-life” supporters are “pro-life” for only the duration of the pregnancy and maybe a few months past that.
We all want to drink clean water and breathe clean air. So I support alternative energy, such as wind towers, and regulations to prevent harmful chemicals from leaching into the groundwater. But I don’t have any financial or emotional investment in fossil fuels.
Perhaps the difference between me and folks who are invested in Koch Industries and similar corporations is that they know some secret the rest of us don’t. As the climate warms, somehow their grandchildren won’t have to worry about or won’t be exposed to the increasingly sweltering environment coupled with less available water? Maybe they think that money will buy them all the air conditioning and water they need to thrive.
I want to see my tax dollars used for great public education, including knowledge of the real history of the United States and the use of enslaved indigenous peoples and African citizens to build the wealth of white Europeans. I want to see history that celebrates the contributions of men and women of all ethnicities. And I want to see students able to consider any idea for its truthfulness and applicability to life. I call that critical thinking.
The ideas spouted by the current crop of Republican elected officials, including their loathing of undocumented immigrants, frighten and appall me.
Every single Republican, unless he or she is a descendant of an indigenous person, is the descendant of an undocumented immigrant from some place, some time ago. If your ancestor was documented, as in landing on Ellis Island or someplace similar, he or she came here to escape poverty, crime, disease, oppression. Yet, elected Republicans want to deny to others what they once benefited from themselves.
I used to fit well in the Kansas Republican Party because the members were critical thinkers, open to any idea that could make life better for all Kansans. I no longer identify as a party member.
Cindy Entriken is the author of “Ila’s War,” the true story of the first 26 years of the life of her great aunt, Ila Armsbury. She lives in Wichita with her husband, Jim Hammer, one rescue dog and three cats. Through its opinion section, Kansas Reflector works to amplify the voices of people who are affected by public policies or excluded from public debate. Find information, including how to submit your own commentary, here.
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