He was pretty cranky. “Go east and you hear them laugh at Kansas; go west and they sneer at her; go south and they ‘cuss’ her; go north and they have forgotten her,” he wrote.
Perhaps White saw the future. There’s been a lot of cussing and laughing and sneering in Kansas politics this year, almost all of it aimed at the ridiculous campaign mailers landing at your doorstep right about now.
National reporters have used White’s line for their coverage of this year’s political campaigns in the state. They’re responding in part to a modern book of that title, which argues that Republicans focus on social issues to distract the electorate from voting its economic interests.
The argument has always been strained. Voters are quite free to cast ballots for any reason, after all, including such issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. Nothing the matter with that.
There are clear differences between U.S. Senate candidates Pat Roberts and Greg Orman on some social issues. Roberts, the Republican incumbent, opposes same-sex marriage and access to abortion, for example, while Orman, an independent, supports both.
But it isn’t clear that either candidate, if elected, could settle those questions, which are now largely legal matters. So voters may instead want to focus on how each candidate would vote on judicial nominees.
Ignore any rhetoric about “activist judges.” An activist judge is simply someone who issues an opinion you don’t like.
But there is a record for one candidate. Roberts voted for conservative Supreme Court nominees Samuel Alito and John Roberts and voted against liberal nominees Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. If re-elected, he probably would continue that pattern.
Predicting Orman’s confirmation votes is tougher. He promises, if elected to consider nominees on their merits, without a “litmus test” on any specific issue.
That means a vote for Orman is a vote for his judgment. Voters are asked to trust his choices. For Roberts, it’s a vote on his record. He would support conservative judges and oppose liberal ones.
In a strange way, that yardstick can be applied to the entire Senate race.
Roberts is a firm lockstep conservative vote. Orman, by contrast, asks voters to trust his decision-making ability if he makes it to Washington.
And there’s nothing the matter, Kansas, with casting your ballot on either basis.