When I was a girl growing up in America, we moved often…keeping up with my father’s career in the Air Force. Once, I sat down and tallied up all the moves and discovered that in 12 years of schooling I had attended 14 separate schools.
A benefit of these frequent moves was the opportunity to explore the diversity of America and our people. For instance I started school in southern California, where my classmates were, Filipino, Japanese, Hispanic, Black and Mennonite.
Then with moves to Texas, New Mexico, Washington state, Missouri, and Virginia I was exposed to many versions of American history and culture. As I studied the foundations of our government, two key elements stood out to me. One is that the founders exhibited genius in creating such a solid, resilient, profound and unique structure for self-government. The other element that did not escape my attention is that there–at least at first–did not appear to be any place for my gender. Minority races and women were not included in full citizenship. But, again, the genius of our government is the provision for making needed changes. Not speedy by any means. Many of the women who worked so hard for women’s suffrage did not live long enough to exercise their rights to participate fully in our self-governing processes.
One main value I learned is that the success of this wonderful democratic approach is a reliance on the willingness of citizens to engage and participate. I decided at an early age that I would never miss a vote, and would participate fully in the public discourse that leads to public policy.
Accordingly, I have paid close attention to public policy established by our current Kansas Legislature and have concluded it is the worst in Kansas history. Under the leadership of Governor Brownback the Kansas legislature has taken us down the path of discredited “trickle-down” economics and left the state in the worst condition in generations.
The current legislature has proved itself hostile to public education, to important policy protecting and sustaining our environment and to treating all Kansans fairly. Current legislators have bowed to the dictates of extreme rightwing organizations like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). They have lost touch with the citizens they purport to represent.