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Archive for Monday, December 12, 2005

Cultural tilts leave Lawrence standing alone more often

December 12, 2005

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It's no secret that Douglas County is a political blue island in a sea of red.

In both of President Bush's national victories, a majority of Douglas County voters supported the Democrat.

But the county is getting more opportunities to prove its blueness in the culture wars.

In April, Douglas County was the only one of Kansas' 105 counties to vote against a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. While the amendment was approved 70 percent to 30 percent across the state, it failed in Douglas County, 37 percent to 63 percent.

And in the recent battle before the State Board of Education over the teaching of evolution, a Lawrence Journal-World poll showed Douglas County stood apart from the rest of the state when it came to intelligent design.

In that poll, of those statewide who said they knew what intelligent design was, 54 percent said it should be taught in public schools. In Douglas County, that was 41 percent.

In the Legislature, the Lawrence delegation usually opposes issues on the social conservative radar.

State Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence, who is in the minority among House Republicans because he has voted for tax increases for schools, said when the warring wings of the party started firing, he kept his head down.

"I just basically try and focus on public policy-making and constituent services. People of Lawrence look at who the candidate is, and vote for you regardless of party," he said.

John Burch, a Lawrence investor who unsuccessfully tried to persuade the State Board of Education to back off criticizing evolution in public school science standards, said Lawrence politics were different primarily because Lawrence was a university town.

But, he said, the city is "actually a good representation of the mixture that is America."

He said that while Lawrence was often a leader in progressive causes, recent attempts to moderate the social conservative wing of the Republican Party were coming from members of the GOP in western Kansas, who were upset with the education board.

"In this case, Lawrence may become the followers and not the leaders," he said.

Comments

b_asinbeer 9 years ago

Just as I thought....the more educated you are, the better decisions you make. Now, how do we educate the remaining 104 counties?

bthom37 9 years ago

In other news, the sky is blue.

classclown 9 years ago

This statement bugs me. >>> John Burch, a Lawrence investor who unsuccessfully tried to persuade the State Board of Education to back off criticizing evolution in public school science standards, said Lawrence politics were different primarily because Lawrence was a university town. <<<

Why does everyone try to tie the liberal slant of this area to the fact that there is a university here? There are several other colleges in this state but they appear to be in areas that are decidedly "red". It makes no sense to me that this area is "blue" simply because there is a school here. If that were the case, there would be plenty of other liberal towns across the state.

Baille 9 years ago

It's not a cultural tilt. It is an educational imbalance.

mcoan 9 years ago

Lawrence has been going against the grain of the rest of the state since 1850. The New England Immigrant Aid Society and others brought in new anti-slavery residents to settle the area. We were surrounded by pro-slavery forces. I think it's reasonable to assume that the original "liberal" attitude of the new immigrants was passed down through generations.

Ragingbear 9 years ago

It looks like to me that liberals tend to be better informed, and make smarter decisions. No wonder the conservatives want to do things to have Lawrence dissolved into a subdivision of Johnson Co.

average 9 years ago

I really do think the educational climate makes a difference. While it may not be as "blue" as Douglas County, Manhattan is more politically moderate and accepting of lifestyle choices than much of Kansas. The College Hill part of Wichita has more "cultural creatives" than the rest of the city. Even Hays is notably more liberal than, say, Liberal or Great Bend.

bankboy119 9 years ago

"It looks like to me that liberals tend to be better informed, and make smarter decisions."

That was the funniest joke I have heard in a long time.

Jamesaust 9 years ago

Lawrence certainly is liberal but the degree as measured by the state 'gay marriage' vote surprised me. EACH precinct in the city - no matter how 'Republican' in appearance - voted against the measure, not just the city overall.

Using the same election total as a proxy for liberalism in Kansas, it seems to me that liberalism may just as well be the consequence of economic vitality. Even though losing in all other counties, the 'liberal' anti-bigotry vote did quite well in Riley, Saline, Johnson, Lyon, Geary, and Shawnee counties - all dynamic economies (by Kansas standards). In contrast, the race for most bigoted county might have as well been one for most economically backward. Technically, Wichita County near the Colorado border won that race, but the also rans are a 'who's who' of dusty left-behind-ness. (One wonders what the vote totals would have been if they'd included votes from those born in Kansas but moved out-of-state.)

John Burch's observation is apt: Its not Douglas Co. that is out of step with politics, its Kansas out of step with the nation. Since 1920, arguably the high-point of progressive politics in Kansas, the state has lost 40% of its national influence (in Congress and the electoral vote for President). What will be left of Kansas after a similar decline in the 21st century? Who'll listen to Kansas when its last child has moved on to more liberal (a/k/a, economically healthy) regions? When Wichita County (with no more people today than a hundred years ago) falls to less than a thousand residents will it still lead the way to backwardness?

kung_pao_chicken 9 years ago

Wendt, how does, "Huh, huh, You said "Books", huh , huh, huh, huh. Hey, Bevis, pass me the remote, buttmunch!!" advance the argument?

I'm sure you will want to refer me back to your previous post. However, I would suggest that the phrase, "Idiocies like Intelligent Design / Creationism" does more to suppress potential discussion than to advance it.

Baille 9 years ago

An anecdote does not an argument make.

laughingatallofu 9 years ago

<<< Posted by Arminius (anonymous) on December 12, 2005 at 1:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Just as I thought....the more educated you are, the better decisions you make. Now, how do we educate the remaining 104 counties?"

That's not always the case. For example, just last week a Harvard Ph.D. got out of his car on a rural road after a pickup truck was tailgating him. I think the average high school graduate would have continued driving into town.

Character assassination apprars to have no limits, does it?

laughingatallofu 9 years ago

Arminius,

So, what's your point? Are you calling the "average high school graduate" "not smart"?

laughingatallofu 9 years ago

I am sooo embarrassed! How could I have fallen for this ruse? I am soo naive (oops... sooO). From now on, I will agree with everything that Arminius says.

And I believe that ID is "science", too.

laughingatallofu 9 years ago

I have elevated my sarcasm to a new level. Time to retire for the night.

Interesting discussion. I'm sure that it won't die soon.

And I believe that ID is "science", too. <<<

Or did I mean... religion---no---science--religion---no---philosophy---no, politics----MYTHOLOGY?---I am so CONFUSED!

dex 9 years ago

does this mean liberals are responsible for good decisions that eventually lead to good things such as a smoking ban that exchanges property rights for ... nothing, roundabout mania and a backflowing sewer?

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