Editorials

Make Kansas boring again: Gov. Laura Kelly’s inaugural address was delightfully dull

Laura Kelly sworn in as 48th Kansas governor

In front of the Kansas statehouse Monday morning, Laura Kelly was sworn in as governor by Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss
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In front of the Kansas statehouse Monday morning, Laura Kelly was sworn in as governor by Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss

New Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s inaugural address was on the dull side, wasn’t it? Delightfully so.

It was a calming lavender bath, really, in praise of public service and volunteerism and all we have in common even when we disagree.

Even the platitudes, and there were a few, were a relaxing change from the exhausting, nonstop drama in and invective out of Washington.

After eight years of too much excitement in Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer’s Topeka — Will our poorly funded public schools be closed by the Kansas Supreme Court? Will any safety net survive? — we want to take this perhaps fleeting moment of zen, before the new legislative session starts on Tuesday, to encourage Kelly to keep it up. And could lawmakers in both parties please follow her lead?

Make Kansas boring again, with less rancor and more of the care for the common good that Kelly alluded to in a speech that praised the homely virtues of resilience and self-sacrifice.

Make Kansas a virtual oasis of blandness, with non-hysterical tweets like Kelly’s maternal reminder to those planning to attend her swearing-in to “please, dress for very cold temperatures.

Most of all, do what you can to bring us together over what matters instead of tearing us apart over what doesn’t.

Sometimes, what we’ve known all along needs to be restated.

Kelly did that on Monday when she said that at some point, “public service began to give way to partisanship. And the voices of Kansas families were not heard. Kansas lost its sense of self. Its sense of community. We can’t let that happen again. We must be bigger than that.

We must be guided by the values we share. We must forge a new chapter in our story, starting today, because there’s so much that connects us as Kansans. We want the same basic things.”

In her delivery, Kelly was assertive but not antagonistic and confident rather than fear-mongering. In her tone and her words, she asked us to trust each other a little more.

“We gather at this unique moment in America’s history,” the new governor said. “As the values that shaped our very foundation are being tested. The ideals that bind us are being strained. And sometimes it can feel like the forces of division are succeeding. But it’s at these very moments when we’re being tested the most, that Kansans always shine. It’s who we are.”

Let’s not just hope that’s still true; let’s prove that it is.

Done correctly, governing is hard work. It can be painful, even, requiring diligence and prudence. (Remember prudence?)

Kelly seems to, and that’s a great place to start.

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