The Kansas Republican Party announced the other
day that Jim Joice had been hired as executive director,
replacing Clay Barker, who had joined the staff of Gov.
Jeff Colyer. Joice is from Leawood, in Johnson County,
also home to the Senate majority leader, the Speaker
of the House, and the top brokers on many legislative
committees. Joice attended KU and has been a member
of Congressman Kevin Yoder’s campaign and congressional
Joice’s hiring was announced by State GOP chair
Kelly Arnold, the Sedgwick County Clerk, and who is
among several Republicans running for governor. “It’s
time to refocus, revamp, and re-engage,” Arnold said.
“We must continue to promote not only our Republican
values, but our Kansas values… “
Values are a tricky undertaking for any politician this
year, especially Republicans who try to cast the party’s
values and Kansas values as one in the same. The challenge
is especially complex for candidates with a history
of supporting or excusing such infamous party leaders
as Donald Trump or Sam Brownback ‒ the values of a
president who plays footsie with Mother Russia and the
NRA, who suffocates Dreamers and bashes the FBI, and
of a governor who would throttle local schools, starve
cities and counties, despise immigrants, and exhort the
marriage of church and state – for starters. Such beliefs
should run contrary to our Kansas compassions.
We have a leg up when it comes to experience with
those catch-all Republican “values.” We learned that
living without taxes means living with government in
the red and services in the soup, that suffocating local
schools and putting higher education in a vice only
cheats students and hastens brain drain, that cheating
Medicaid clients puts the sick on the street and hospitals
at risk, that looting the highway fund can turn roads to
weed beds. There’s much more, but that’s the idea.
In this election year we will hear a lot from candidates
about their values, or at least their belief in them. In a
campaign, the implication is that one candidate has values
and the other does not, or at least has mislaid them
somewhere with the car keys.
We will hear from candidates who profess belief in
values of a higher moral authority. This, they will say,
includes getting tougher) on crime, staying in touch
with people, or God, hating all taxes and loving both
guns and children.
In better days the campaign hallmark was honesty,
not bunk. The more effective candidates declared that
they were in favor of everything that everyone else was
in favor of. They said plainly that they would support
anything and everything – temperance and liquor, new
roads in every township and taxes in none, compassion
for the rich and comfort for the poor.
Values then had nothing to do with getting elected.
They still don’t.