What’s the Matter With Kansas?– How Conservatism Inc. Is Blowing It In A Red State
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Leftist Thomas Frank famously accused the Republican Party of working against the interests of its own voters in his book What’s the Matter With Kansas? Fanatical immigration enthusiast and current GOP Governor Sam Brownback seems determined to prove Frank right. His incompetence may cost the state party the Governor’s mansion, the Republican Party the Senate—and worst of all, patriotic immigration hero Kris Kobach his career as Kansas Secretary of State.

Brownback won his gubernatorial election in 2010 by a remarkable 30 point margin [Kansas Governor – Brownback vs. Holland, RealClearPolitics, 2010] He declared his intent to conduct a “real, live experiment” on the state by pushing through tax cuts under the theory that supply side economics would keep revenue up. Revenue collapsed, resulting in the state’s credit rating being downgraded and a political rebellion from within his own party. [What’s the matter with Sam Brownback?by Patrick Caldwell, Mother Jones, September 25, 2014]

More importantly, rural Kansans—the conservative base—may actually face higher property taxes as local communities try to make up the lost revenue [Insight Kansas: Governor’s experiment wallops rural property taxpayers, by H. Edward Flense, Leavenworth Times, June 19, 2014]

VDARE.com focuses on immigration does not take a position on fiscal policy but after long experience we are skeptical of the MSM account of Brownback’s Kansas katastrophe (or of anything else for that matter). Unfortunately, also after long experience with Steve Moore, we are also skeptical of his defense of Brownback [A Taxing Tale Of Two States: Illinois And Kansas, by Steve Moore, Forbes Magazine, September 27, 2014]. It may be that Kansas just needs to “stay the course,” as Ronald Reagan said during the 1981-2 recession. And, of course, displaced liberal Republicans are notoriously vindictive.

But regardless of the merits of Brownback’s actions, his efforts have clearly been politically expensive—recent polls show him trailing his Democratic opponent Paul Davis in his race for re-election. [Fox News poll shows Paul Davis, leading Sam Brownback, by Bryan Lowry, The Wichita Eagle, September 18, 2014]

Of course, this hasn’t stopped Conservatism Inc. exemplar and open borders zealot Grover Norquist from enthusiastically defending Brownback [Norquist defends tax cuts despite Brownback woes in Kansas, by Mike Lillis, The Hill, September 21, 2014] He can hardly do otherwise.

Though Brownback’s critics pillory him as “far right,” he is actually a fanatical supporter of Third World immigration, possibly (although misguidedly) because of his conversion to Catholicism in 2002. As a Senator, Brownback received lavish praise from Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times because of his efforts to expand “refugee programs” (although Brownback was careful to keep the flood away from his home state). Brownback was also instrumental in legitimizing the kind of “humanitarian” waivers for refugee programs that have led to the disastrous deluge of Central American “youths.”

But, above all, Brownback should also live in infamy because as a Kansas Congressman he played a leading role in derailing the Smith-Simpson Bill, which contained the critical recommendations of the Jordan Report, in 1996.

At the very moment when the majority Republican Party could have saved itself from eventual electoral extinction, a motley alliance of neoconservative ethnic agenda-mongers, lunatic libertarians, businessmen lusting for cheap labor, and criminally asinine Republican politicians, sabotaged the bill.

Brownback appeared to be proud of this. He actually accepted an award from the Treason Lobby group La Raza (Senator honored for his support of Hispanics, by Rebeca Piedra, Topeka Capital-Journal,Thursday, February 28, 2002]. But it helped put an end to his 2008 presidential ambitions [Brownback’s stance may be liability, by Joel Mathis, Lawrence Journal-World, April 10, 2006).

Then, as now, political incompetence was rewarded in the GOP. Brownback has paid no price for his support of policies that may have doomed his party and his country. He survives because he combines his immigration enthusiasm with a mix of social conservatism on issues like abortion and economic policies. He represents the perfect expression of the Beltway Right: symbolic and futile Rube bait on social policies, wonkish and unpopular economic policies, and extreme Political Correctness on issues of immigration and race.

The underlying premise behind Beltway Right Open Borders propaganda: if the GOP just jettisons immigration patriots, it will win elections. Brownback is the latest of a number of signs that the exact opposite may be closer to the truth.

Thus Brownback is dragging down Senator Pat Roberts, a longtime GOP incumbent facing a difficult re-election. The aged Roberts was already weakened by a bitter Tea Party primary challenge, driven partially by concerns that he had become too comfortable in Washington and taken his status as a Senator for granted. The New York Times wrote last winter:

Mr. Roberts is now desperate to re-establish ties to Kansas and to adjust his politics to fit the rise of the right in the state. But his efforts underscore the awkward reality of Republicans who, after coming of age in an era of comity and esteem for long-term service, are trying to remake themselves to be warriors for a Tea Party age.

[Lacking a House, a Senator is Renewing His Ties in Kansas,by Jonathan Martin, February 7, 2014]

However, this sense of being out of touch is now working to the advantage of his opponent:
All year, Republican officials have grumbled that Roberts was running a lethargic, halfhearted campaign… Roberts has made few contacts with voters, such as door knocks and phone calls, and has no significant volunteer corps, Kansas Republican officials said. One can drive for hours along state highways without seeing a Roberts placard among the many other Republican yard signs.

[In Kansas, longtime GOP Sen. Pat Roberts faces doubts as he scrambles to hold seat, by Philip Rucker, Washington Post, September 24, 2014]

The Stupid Party has intervened with what NYT’s Rucker terms an “urgent course reaction” by out-of-state operatives, featuring new campaign leadership and tours by speakers such as Rand Paul, John McCain, Jeb Bush, and local Republican hero Bob Dole. Rucker reports Roberts is trying to get away from Brownback’s collapsing state party and “nationalize” the issue by telling voters: “A vote for me is a vote to change the Senate back to a Republican majority.”

However, the consultant-driven national GOP is hardly a force to inspire confidence. And none of this provides a reason to actually vote for Roberts. Roberts’s bumbling effort to frame his race as a referendum on Obama has that odd combination of Political Correctness and tin-eared violent rhetoric that characterizes the Beltway Right—leading to cringe-inducing moments like Roberts telling an audience that Obama is moving towards “national socialism.” [Sen. Pat Roberts warns of 'national socialism' taking root , By Cheryl K. Chumley, The Washington Times, Wednesday, September 24, 2014]

Not for the first time, the much-underestimated Sarah Palin is doing a better job selling Roberts than Roberts himself. She pointed out that, unlike his opponent Greg Orman, Roberts has consistently opposed Amnesty, even as far back as 1986 when he was a Congressman. [Sarah Palin reminds Kansans Pat Roberts, Unlike Opponent, Opposes Amnesty for Illegals, by Tony Lee, Breitbart, September 25, 2014]

And Orman has left himself open for these attacks. He has had the chutzpah to imply Roberts is to blame for the increase in illegal immigration, though Orman himself explicitly opposes doing something useful like deportation. [Pat Roberts and Greg Orman see several issues differently in the U.S. Senate race in Kansas, by Dave Helling, Kansas City Star, September 19, 2014] Orman’s website says

It’s just not practical to say that we’re going to find and send back to other countries 11 million undocumented people. We’ve got whole industries in Kansas that would go away if we attempted to introduce such an unworkable policy. Towns like Dodge City and Garden City and much of the agricultural community in Kansas would be absolutely devastated.
Refuting links added by VDARE.com. In other words, Orman is an immigration enthusiast who favors Amnesty—a point that patriot broadcaster Laura Ingraham just hammered home in her September 26 interview with Roberts. (Nevertheless, there is no recent mention of immigration on Roberts’ campaign website—not even of the Ingraham interview).

Roberts’ desperate need for a populist approach is heightened because the threat from the Right hasn’t gone away. His erstwhile Tea Party challenger Milton Wolf, bitter after typical rule-or-ruin treatment by the GOP Establishment in the primary, has reportedly considered endorsing Orman—if Orman agrees to caucus with the Republicans once elected. [Sources: Milton Wolf weighs Greg Orman endorsement, by Manu Raju and Alex Isenstadt, Politico, September 25, 2014]. Such an endorsement could seal Roberts’s fate—and any promise Orman gives could be easily broken. (The report has been subsequently, albeit indirectly, denied—‘No consideration’ of an Orman endorsement by Wolf, By Sean Sullivan, Washington Post, September 26, 2014)

But who is Greg Orman anyway? A supposed “independent,” Orman says he is not a Democrat—even though he ran as one against Roberts in 2008. And he is certainly exploiting a de facto partnership with the Democratic Party, which withdrew its own candidate. This prompted a GOP effort, necessarily spearheaded by Kansas’ Secretary of State, to keep the Democrat on the ballot.

Unfortunately for the Republican Party, the effort was overruled by the Kansas Supreme Court. And unfortunately for immigration patriots, the Kansas Secretary of State mired in this partisan wrangling is Kris Kobach. [Is Kris Kobach facing a real threat to his Secretary of State seat in November?By Steve Vockrodt, The Pitch, September 23, 2014]

Kobach may be the single most important patriotic politician in the country, with an outsized role in crafting immigration enforcement rules by the states. This has made him a constant target of condemnation by the anti-American Left as well as “moderate” Republicans wanting to enjoy a quiet time in office. Ominously, Kobach’s opponent is a former Republican state senator who switched to the Democrats after losing a primary—similarly, Russell Pearce was taken out by a Republican “moderate" (although without the added complexity of Establishment Mormon immigration enthusiasm) [Kansan Kobach a lightning rod from immigration to voter ID laws, by Tim Jones, Chicago Tribune, September 22, 2014]

The irony here: despite all the controversy and cowardice from the GOP elite about confronting mass immigration, it is the so-called mainstream that has endangered Kobach—and the entire Republican Party of Kansas.

  • Kobach’s is in jeopardy because of his loyalty to the Republican Party—apparently a one-way loyalty that is only designed to benefit “moderate” Republicans.
  • Roberts is in trouble because, like Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, he became Washington’s representative to Kansas rather than Kansas’s representative to Washington. And the only way he can now survive is by unconvincingly promoting a kind of conservative populism and immigration patriotism far better expressed by figures like Senator Jeff Sessions (who, incidentally, is running unopposed) or Sarah Palin.
  • Brownback is on the brink of humiliating defeat apparently because he implemented precisely the kind of Beltway Right “pro-growth” platform that open-borders Conservatism Inc. functionaries like Grover Norquist tell us will win elections. And Brownback’s political failures are also serving as a drag on Secretary of State Kobach and Senator Roberts.
The bottom line: it is not immigration patriotism that is a drag on the GOP – the GOP is a drag on immigration patriots.

The way out is to do what Ann Coulter suggested – make this election a referendum on immigration, and nothing else.

If the GOP could do that, it would reform itself into Thomas Frank’s worst nightmare – a National Conservative Party appealing to the vast majority of voters, serving as an authentic representative of the historic American nation, safeguarding the interests of its supporters.

If it can’t do that, it will lose—and somebody else will fill this political vacuum.

James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.



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