The upcoming midterm election relies on each of us understanding the truth and how each of those we will elect chooses to handle the truth. We talk about the truth quite often, and we will again today because without a belief in the truth, we cannot expect to survive as a democracy.
All candidates make promises they alone simply cannot fulfill, and we don’t fault any of them for that. But some candidates have lied to us, and will continue to lie to us; we must be prepared to vote accordingly, even if it is the candidate representing our party.
As voters, we must look past the issues like inflation that will not be solved on a local basis, but rather require a combination of federal monetary policies (like the Fed’s announcement of an additional interest rate hike) and a willingness on the part of corporate America to stop profiteering under the guise of inflation. Once we can look at the local and state issues and candidates on their own merits, we can make informed choices on November 8th.
At the state level, the most critical race is for governor. Incumbent Laura Kelly is running against current Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who was first elected to that office in 2010. Both run ads associating their opponent with unpopular political figures: Kelly with President Biden, and Schmidt with former Governor Brownback. However, the more relevant ads for the two candidates debate Gov. Kelly’s position on taxes and law enforcement. So let’s look at these two issues.
Schmidt ads accurately report that Gov. Kelly vetoed 20 tax cuts. What is not included in these ads is the fact that these vetoes occurred during the first two years of her term when the State was struggling to regain its financial footing following the devastation of the Brownback tax cuts that caused some schools to end their terms early, and the State’s credit rating to decline. The irony of criticizing her efforts to keep schools open for the entire school year while also criticizing her for closing schools during Covid-19 escapes Schmidt and his supporters.
Schmidt ads also attack Gov. Kelly’s support for law enforcement, claiming she called Kansas cops racist in a June 25, 2020 op-ed in the Topeka Capitol-Journal. In the article that called for the creation of a racial justice commission, she said, “As Governor, I am committed to ensuring this latest tragedy [the killing of George Floyd] does not fade into the next news cycle. Communities of color do not have the luxury of time for leaders to ignore these issues any longer. Systemic racism within law enforcement must end.”
Again, the irony here is that when testifying before the very commission Gov. Kelly called for, Schmidt answered a question about the existence of racial bias in our justice system by saying, “Obviously, it does exist. It exists in human relations. Therefore it exists in the subset of human relations that includes law enforcement interactions with people” (kwch.com, 24 Oct 22).
Nowhere, in the op-ed, or elsewhere, does Gov. Kelly call Kansas cops “racist.”
Gov. Kelly’s ads also address tax cuts and law enforcement. Many of her ads accurately tout her ability to work with the Republican-controlled legislature to cut the sales tax on food. These ads refer to her signing into law the “Axe the Tax” bill (HB 2106) which passed with bipartisan support earlier this year.
Gov. Kelly’s ads also address her support for law enforcement by claiming “record funding for law enforcement” (youtube.com 14 Oct 22). The Washington Post reported on October 11, 2022 that since 2019, Gov. Kelly has increased the funding for the Kansas Correctional System and the State Highway Patrol by 33 percent. The article also points out that funding for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which is under the control of Attorney General Schmidt, has remained flat during that same period.
So, like so many of his fellow Republicans, Derek Schmidt was not truthful in his campaign ads. We find it hard to believe candidates like Herschel Walker who privately take actions (like paying for abortions) which they publicly oppose. Schmidt has done the same when he opposed fully funding schools as a member of the Kansas Senate.
And Derek Schmidt believed in the Big Lie enough to join a brief submitted in a lawsuit by Texas to overturn the 2020 election. He continues to rely on former president Donald Trump’s support, using it to help him win the Republican nomination for governor.
As voters, we have a decision to make when we cast our votes. We can choose to vote for the truth, and those who value the truth, or we can vote for our party no matter what.
Please make a wise decision as our choices will impact our state and nation for generations to come.
Jim Calvert is a retired English teacher, and Bob Grover is Professor Emeritus, Emporia State University.