In this fine book, Thomas Frank goes to lengths to figure our what being a “conservative” means in Kansas. His main premise is that due to social conservative attitudes in Kansas, our voters get convinced to support the Republican party, even though this is in conflict with our economic interests.
I believe that when Kansans are calling themselves “conservative” they are not usually thinking of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. But, if I’m correct, what exactly do they have in mind? Please help bloggers…
45 responses to “The Kansas definition of “Conservative””
There are many variations of being conservative. I am fiscally conservative but liberal enough to allow people to run their own personal lives.
In Kansas, I do think Republicans are mostly of the Social Conservative type – and they do love their Rush and Beck.
But I’ve also noticed that Kansas Republicans like to try to stamp out their so-called sins of gambling and gay marriage but yet have they have no probem with several Gentlemens Club strip joints having their commericals on television.
So, gambling and gay marriage is bad but sexual exploitation is okay?
And may I borrow a line from PP?
I laugh at the old white men who want to control the Republican Party.
I’m always reminded of the beginnings of the city where some of us live — Wichita was on the east side of the river and Delano was on the west side. All the churches were on the east side, all the saloons and houses of ill repute were on the west side.
The east side Wichita ladies went to their churches while the east side Wichita gentlemen supported the ladies of the west. 🙂
The values of those old white men hasn’t changed one iota!
Wasn’t there a tunnel beneath the river from the Broadview Hotel to Delano District for those well-respected East side men to get to those houses of ill repute?
I hadn’t ever heard that one, but it wouldn’t surprise me. 🙂
If you didn’t read the article I linked to yesterday, titled, How the GOP Loses Women, it is an excellent read!
“In Kansas, I do think Republicans are mostly of the Social Conservative type – and they do love their Rush and Beck.”
I think generally to say you are “conservative” in Kansas means you think of yourself as a “moral” person, you go to church, you are not extravegant with your money, you believe in social justice for most minorities – just not those you judge to have made immoral life choices, and I think that covers it.
I think their bigotry comes from ignorance and not “well-informed hate” like that practiced by Limbaugh and Beck. I hope that is a clear distinction – because it is one worth making, I think, for some reason. It’s kind of like Christ’s supposed request when he asked “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
I see your point, Iggy, because Rush and Beck are in it for the money and that is their only motive?
I don’t know for sure. Maybe just the language of Conservative and Social Conservative are too broad?
Maybe a Crazy Radical Fringe Religious Conservative label is needed for those who truly hate everything and everyone who does not look and think exactly like they do?
this is just my attempt at humor – I know, it is bad. That’s why I don’t go on the road.
I don’t think Kansas conservatives are necessarily evangelical, Southern movement, conservatives. I think they are more likely to belong to a mainstream protestant denomination. And further they do not share the implicit racism the former group proudly wears.
Maybe, I’m wrong.
There are two types of conservatives I know around my age. Half of the ones went to a certain private Christian school in which half of their science education was snipped out, which I believe affects the ability to think critically–it does make a difference! The ones that went to college went to equally sheltered private Christian colleges with no exposure to alternative viewpoints. These conservatives have nothing but good hearts. Obviously I think they are misguided, but the truly believe they are voting in the best interests of their families and communities. They believe that the government will only screw everything up, and that churches are the best way to help the less fortunate. They really believe, for some reason, that the left position of social issues would
The second type are the ones from my high school who went to college for business/marketing programs. This is the “f you got mine” type of conservatives. I seriously doubt many of them care about abortion or gay marriage or Rush or Glenn, but since they embrace the dog-eat-dog principals of the Republican party, they have no choice but to halfheartedly parrot the social issue lines.
Granted, this is only my generation I’m talking about, but I wonder if this split exists across the whole party…?
Now I’m done with my sweeping generalizations which are sure to offend some readers here. I apologize in advance!
I never read this book. Is it a good read, or will it bore me to tears?
It is a good read, Eco. Frank makes even a dull subject easier to read and interesting.
Have you ever blogged with a name beginning with a “T”?
I think you are absolutely correct about most people of faith. They are good, kind, honest, caring Americans who want the best for fellow citizens and their country. And, because they have deep abiding faith they fail to see the danger in mixing things of state with things of faith. They don’t allow the comparison of other theologies because Christianity is different in their minds and superior to other religions.
I would question if the people I am thinking of necessarily have as strong a pro-Christian ethnocentrism as you are saying here, Fnord. I think their ethnocentrism is the type of being an unexamined position – they think it is a superior position because it is the only thing they know.
They are suspicious of college educations and thinking in general. I have often thought that they should be prevented from the benefits of college education because they fear certain parts of it so much.
My central premise is that they are dangerous due to their ignorance instead of their malfeasance. For some silly-assed reason, that I don’t completely understand, I want to think this makes them less culpable somehow. Sometimes I even shake my own head at my elaborate constructions that make which make for no real difference in the end.
Off – haughty, smug, liberal rant
As Jefferson Airplane once said: “We are the forces of chaos and anarchy. Everything they say we are, we are. And we are very proud of ourselves!”
Blogged with a T? oh yes, but I’m much more careful about my personal info these days.
“They are suspicious of college educations and thinking in general. I have often thought that they should be prevented from the benefits of college education because they fear certain parts of it so much.”
I see this a lot. As if faith is such a fragile thing that it cannot even be in the presence of opposing viewpoints.
I realize how smug it sounds to talk about the “unintellectual masses”…but I honestly can’t think of a better explanation.
My best friend attends Immanuel Baptist church and was so during the tenure of Terry Fox.
I brought it up to him when he told me of the attractions within the Church.
Swimming pool, book store and the thought of putting in a restaurant.
That is common within a good number of the “Mega Churches” a life and a society unto themselves.
No need to associate or mingle with the non-believers I pointed out to him. At first the very observation offended him. Then he conceded that I may have hit a nail on the head there.
Their desire to be isolated from the rest, it makes it easier to believe what ever and not have to defend their believes. They social interaction becomes limited to their “Social causes” along with the work place.
But at work they often become shunned because of their extreme Religious views.
I will add even with others who claim the Christian faith as there is little interaction about the faith or God.
Their eye sight is shielded by the wall of the Church, so it is easy for them to make a distinction between the sin and the sinner.
Thomas Frank grew up in the Kansas City area. He talks about his perspective on what it means to be a conservative in Kansas. His main premise is that Kansans with their good Christian hearts are misled into thinking that Republicans represent them – they vote against their own interests, in so doing. He devotes some space to Wichita, as well.
I really enjoyed the book. He has a good sense of humor. Whenever he comes to Wichita, I make an effort to get out to see him. He is usually at Sarah Bagby’s Watermark Bookstore.
Geoge Will reviewed the book and said to the effect, “Think of Frank as a Michael Moore with an educated mind” – I believe that Will was trying to insult both men in one felled swoop. Will ended the review by saying – “‘What’s the Matter with Kansas?’, Nothing at all.” The title comes from a quote of William Allen White.
It is one of my favorite books and I am giving away an autographed copy for Christmas to either my sister or my mother – I am having a hard picking one over the other. I will give an autographed copy of The Wrecking Crew to the other this Christmas.
I recommend it highly, but I hope I have clarified by biases.
I haven’t read the book by Frank, but he was from the same town that I live in now. I keep telling myself I am going to read it. I have a built-in bias regarding what (if anything) is the matter with Kansas. I moved here with my family when I was 11 years old and thought I landed in the sixth circle of hell. I haven’t ever loved it here. I still call Philadelphia home. The people here, not all, but many, are not my favorite. But there are conservatives everywhere and I think it is a mistake to try to put them all in one package.
My mother raised us as Democrats. She was a member of the League of Women Voters and we used to go door-to-door handing out campaign literature when we were growing up. That all stopped when we moved here. And she has slowly become the dittohead type of conservative. And she (and daily visits with Rush Limbaugh) is slowly converting my father too.
These are intelligent people who attend church weekly and believe that they are well-informed because they watch the network news and read the newspaper where they live (which is not in Kansas anymore). My father is soft-hearted and has worked hard all of his life. His father passed away when he was very young and he had a job ever since. He is whip-smart, especially with numbers. But, alas, they are ill-informed and brain-washed daily. We try not to talk too much politics because we end up in screaming matches. They are convinced that we are all brainwashed and obviously, we are convinced that the same is true of them.
If that is a microcosym of where the left and right stand in this country, we have not figured out how to come together, only avoidance.
When I think of Kansas Republicans, I think of my Mother.
A good woman. A woman whose family, from Oklahoma, have always been Republicans. And, it’s the way things are. She doesn’t even know much has changed over the years. She admits openly the mistakes and failures of bush the lesser, but she will tell you he was no Republican!
Just like so many other good, moral Americans who have been voting Republican for their entire lives.
One of Frank’s favorite observations is the group’s denial of the failure of conservatism. They ask and assert: “what do you mean about conservatism failing? It has never been tried!”
fnord, your mother is a perfect example. My parents were from Oklahoma and have been life-long Democrats. But in reality they are very fiscally conservative and I think pretty socially conservative, too. I think it is TSTBGOP who makes the point that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between an Oklahoma Democrat (or even a southern Democrat of old) and a Kansas Republican.
The south has gone to a virulent form of Republicanism that I am trying (vainly, maybe) to distinguish from what I know of as Kansas Republicans.
Yeah it was me, there is a greater difference between Kansas Democrats and Oklahoma Democrats. the Okla Dems and Kansas Republicans.
I never had anyone take issue with me on Politics while living there until it became known I am Republican.
They immediately made the assumption I was a far right wing Con. You all may find it reassuring that is one point most Democratic agree on no matter where they live. Their mistrust and often hatred of Republicans. There were a good number of right to life sign there and the Churches have unlimited power in rural OK.
That maybe why there is the upsurge of the Conservative movement in the South.
PS Iggy I hope you never decide to give up blogging. I look forward to your posts.
Well, thank you.
Our blogging home mates have only managed to drive up our view numbers. Which was a revelation to me that they have value for something.
There was something about me that they especially hated and felt motivated to come here and be disruptive; but, just a little really.
The guy who wrote here is an attorney on the staff of a neighboring county attorney’s office. He blogs at work all the time. When his boss is up for re-election in the fall, I plan to write a letter to the editor of his home town newspaper. It will be my re-payment to him for his “kind words” here.
Way more important — they brought us Eco!
For the social conservatives the important issue is abortion and then there are some other ‘family values’ moral issues that get them interested. Those are the most dangerous ones in my opinion. Because things of government aren’t even addressed by them.
The others that still think the Republican Party stands for fiscal restraint and small government, just haven’t been paying attention or are unable to face reality. When you point out what Republicans have done they, of course, tell you none of those examples were really Republicans!
Neither of the two factions can be very pleased with their elected officials. The ones who promised to overturn Roe v Wade, didn’t. The ones who promised fiscal restraint spent like politicians. I’ve decided not to use the drunken sailor example because I think they don’t spend as loosely as today’s politician.
There are some people where, literally, abortion is the only issue that counts. My husband would never vote for a pro-choice candidate, whether Republican or Democrat.
Yeah…pro health care, pro-environment, pro gay marriage, pro science funding, and yet he consistently votes against these interests because “that’s just the sucky nature of the two party system”.
He offered me a pretty thought provoking analogy…he asked me if I would vote for a candidate with whom I agreed with on every single issue, but the candidate was a die-hard racist in his personal views. I wouldn’t, I think. But I would rather just not vote, you know?
I guess if you do truly believe that abortion is murder and the government needs to step in and stop it, then all the other issues are much less important. Doesn’t matter that there’s so little progress, because baby steps like parental notification laws, mandatory sonograms, banning of already-rare procedures are all worth it.
Just a little perspective from that other side.
So how does your husband justify the fact that Republicans were in power for so long and not one single Republican ever tried to reverse Roe v Wade?
Bush was president for 6 years with a total Republican controlled Congress – and the Supreme Court was a majority of anti-abortion judges – so why was nothing done?
To me, what good is the Republican platform of anti-abortion if they won’t lift a finger to change things when they had every chance of accomplishing the change?
I can’t ever stop wondering what we could do to reduce abortions if we worked together.
And how far would affordable adequate health care go toward reducing both unwanted pregnancies and abortions? How many women consider the cost of continuing a pregnancy, the cost of a child, and part of what they can’t afford is health care?
That is a very good argument point, fnord. I do think that universal health care coverage would go a long way toward reducing abortions.
In fact, if it is true it wouldn’t be all that hard to support with a study. I’m sure there are plenty of studies that look at why women have abortions. If there was one wide-scale study that specifically asked if having affordable, guaranteed health care coverage would change a woman’s mind about carrying to term, and if it turns out to be a significant factor, it could lead to a lot of social conservatives into supporting universal health care, couldn’t it?
I mean, the one’s who aren’t hypocrites and actually care about the unborn, as opposed to the ones who want to punish women for sex. Despite the rhetoric I think there are a lot of these.
Haven’t quite figured out how this reply thing works, sorry!
Lila, I think his reasoning is that it would be unconscionable to vote for someone who campaigns to uphold abortion rights, as opposed to vote for someone who would either remain inactive on the issue or push small changes through like what I mentioned above.
I think he’s resigned to the fact that it’s a vote based on principals and not perceived outcomes. I don’t understand it, but I’ve given up trying to convince him otherwise.
Also, never tell someone that they are just having a carrot dangled in front of them every 4 years. It will result in getting your head bitten off! Whew 🙂
LOL you don’t want me to get off on that subject! Remember Scarlett from the message board?
She contacted me when I did my thoughts on sex ed and abortion.
Tell about a duel personality! I should have listen to Jen from DK when she warned me.
btw, Eco, none of has this “reply thingy” figured out. I often have to go back to the front page and actually click on the reply. I get lost easily.
As many of you might remember, I worked many years ago with Rep. Brenda Landwehr. She facebook-stalked me and offered to “…talk things over…” with me a couple of weeks ago.
I said she could name the time and place, in person or by phone or e-mail… no response.
Brenda got caught up in the Pro-Illegal Abortion movement out of Catholic guilt about the abortion she got in high school. Since then, she rode the power high with the CONs’ rise in legislative issues.
In my response to her e-mail I said I didn’t think she was ignorant or evil; just that she’s been hanging around with a bad crowd.
I probably shouldn’t have mentioned Bill Otto is “my” voice in the Kansas Legislature. Perhaps Brenda isn’t willing to step up and defend one of her most reliable allies. Even one who’s crazy as a hoot-owl.
Poor Brenda. Someone out there knows too much. When the day comes that she steps up and actually defends that nut case she might as well admit she has no principles!
The reason I am not a Republican is because I find their party too rigid. As we are seeing today, there are two factions and they are slugging it out. I don’t feel the freedom to disagree with anything the GOP leaders say because of the hateful venom that will spew out of their mouths.
These people have shunned some very good decent people like Colin Powell and called this good man all kinds of names and even stated that he only voted for Obama because he was black.
Now, hate and venom like that has no place in my political world.
At least with the Democrats, we seem to tolerate differing views – and sometimes that is to the party’s detriment.
But when I think of Social Conservative Republicans, I think of those people I knew from my days at the fundamental Baptist church and private college. Now, those people were vicious and that was way back in the mid 1970’s. It has only gotten worse since then.
“No need to associate or mingle with the non-believers…”
Imagine how isolated and removed from society some of the home schooled children are. There are many who form cooperatives among themselves and interact, share resources, share talents, etc., but even when the numbers of people they interact with are increased they still share the same limited world view. They go to school with, attend church with, socialize with like-minded people. Probably their reading, television viewing, etc,. is also controlled.
There were some home schooled kids in that fundamental Baptist College that I attended in the mid-70’s. That was about the time home schooling first started.
I remember there was a boy there that had just turned 16 yrs old and he was in the freshman class at college. He wasn’t a particular bright or intelligent person but since he had passed all the book tests that were required for home schooling, he was able to attend the college.
This boy was in no way ready for college. He was from some backwoods Georgia town and when he hit the big city of Chattanooga, Tennessee – this boy went absolutely wild.
He told me a little about his childhood. His father was a missionary and his mother was a stay-at-home mother that always seemed to be pregnant. She finally stopped after the 8th child. They always seemed to be broke, the father was never home and they lived off the charity of their little Georgia hometown.
Now, dont’ get me wrong – I am not saying this is sad because they had no money – what I found sad is the fact that the father was always well dressed and well fed, while the mother seemed to be the one that dealt with the real pressures of life and did without.
Anway, this boy went hog wild in the big city. He ended up involved in drugs and drinking. He was suspended several times and finally was sent home in disgrace.
I often wondered what happened to that guy. He was nice enough but he was definitely not prepared for the real world – and that was in the mid-70’s. Just think about the home schooled kids of today.
Eco….I understand his thinking. Can’t say I agree with it, but I do understand it.
And I respect his right to vote anyway he wants. After all, that is what makes our country so great isn’t it – everyone has the right to vote any way they want and don’t have to explain it to anyone?
Actually, I was registered as an Independent for many years because I did not fully agree with either party. But I did find myself voting Democratic the majority of the time.
I must confess, there were a few Republicans that I voted for in local and state races because I either knew the person or I knew the Democrat and didn’t care for them. But for presidential races – I always went for the Democratic candidate or I didn’t vote that year.
But ever since Bill Clinton – I saw how the Religious Right Republicans were so rabid and vicious that I started really learning how to hate the GOP and what they stood for.
I hate it when people want to mix religion and politics. I think it demeans my faith in God to put him on the level of a politician.
And since we have the guarantee of freedom of religion, what would happen to my religion if someone of a Buddhist or Muslim faith gets into power and they want to turn our country into his/her particular religion? I would not like that and that is why I don’t want anyone’s religion to be mixed in with their politics.
But fnord and I are sisters in a way – we have both registered as Republicans for one main goal – and that is to vote against Todd Tiarht in the primary.
So, actually, I guess fnord and I would be one of those RINO’s the Social Conservative Republicans keep yapping and ranting about – huh?
BTW – Welcome to the blog Eco….this is a GREAT bunch of people to sit and discuss anything and everything.
I like being your sister! Yep, Republicans right here among all these evil libaruhls. 😉
Some day we have to get together over a freshly rousted child Fnord.
I keep hearing that either Limbaugh or Beck has the recipe but I can not stand to listen long enough to hear it!
My days are numbered! Once I vote for Moran over Tiahrt the next day I am a Independent…
Right on, sister!
I’m thinking I might keep my registration Republican. I can easily change it if by some miracle we have two Democratic candidates at the primary level, but it seems ‘where the action is at that level’ is in the Republican contests.
Of course if Kansas has a presidential primary or even a caucus I’ll rethink that idea. Unless I can help make Palin the 2012 Republican candidate.
God you are evil!
Well doc, it all began when I went down to the registrar’s office and asked to change my political party affiliation…
If she would win the election for President I swear I would feed you to Davis’s cat!
There aren’t actually people stupid enough to think she could be POTUS, are there? If there are people who really believe that, we’re in worse shape than I thought!
Ya know, the average American reads at an 8th grade level, we really do have some who might think this doofus who is just like them would make a good president.
Me? I want the most intelligent person we can find! And, Palin is far from that!