Learning from life experiences
The field of candidates in the Kansas governor’s race continues to get more crowded and those darn kids are partly to blame.
Yes, running for governor is apparently the thing to do if you want to get a date for the Homecoming dance.
A record four . . . count them, four . . . teenagers have announced campaigns to be our next governor.
Why so much interest by teenagers in the upcoming governor’s race?
Our theory is that Sam Brownback’s to blame because he made the job appear too easy.
He visited the concession stand while the courts and legislature haggled over school funding. He remained on the sideline during both major tax debates in 2012 and 2017. He’s said that any efforts to prolong the Ogallala Aquifer should be voluntary. And he avoided any involvement in the legislature’s efforts to repair his budget disaster.
“I’ve got an English teacher who makes me work harder than that,” confided one high school candidate. “My biggest worry, if elected, is that I’d have to wear the same type of sweater that he wears to KU basketball games.”
Friends University political science professor Russell Fox says the young candidates are doing this as a stunt - as if that’s new to politics.
Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign was a stunt which amounted to little more than a glorified audition to become a talking head on Fox News.
Ben Carson used his bid for the presidency to promote the sales of his latest book, sometimes suspending his campaign in order to attend book signing events.
Many would argue that Donald Trump’s campaign was the biggest stunt of all which went terribly awry for America.
And Secretary of State Kris Kobach has built a political career out of a stunt called voter fraud.
If teenagers are using a campaign for governor as a stunt then it’s because they’ve had good teachers. They can’t make a bigger mockery of our political system than the adults have already done.
If the goal of this political hand-wringing is to protect us from ourselves, it would seem that Kansas Republicans are a little late.
Perhaps it should be written into state and federal election laws that reality TV stars lack the qualifications and the demeanor to be elected to office.
Or that a presidential candidate can’t tweet more than the average 13-year-old.
Or that a presidential candidate must have the vocabulary skills of at least a high school freshman.
We can’t blame our Founding Fathers who thought that once a natural born citizen reached the age of 35 they would have the minimum intellectual threshold to serve as President.
Kansas, however, didn’t even bother with the age requirement for being governor. Perhaps our state’s Founding Fathers never thought it would become an issue.
Maybe they saw that as government overreach.
Perhaps it never occurred to anyone that the legitimacy of a candidate should be measured by their age or the size of their campaign war chest.
In lending his support to the idea of setting an age requirement for gubernatorial candidates, House Majority Leader Don Hineman (R-Dighton) believes in the value of “life experience.”
It’s hard to argue with that, except that “life experience” certainly hasn’t led to the exercise of good judgement by politicians or voters.
What “life experience” did Gov. Brownback and ultraconservative lawmakers draw upon when they decided to inflict trickle-down economics on Kansans, which put our state’s fiscal well-being in the dumpster?
What “life experience” prompted state lawmakers to repeatedly ignore, or offer half-hearted responses, to the Kansas Supreme Court regarding school funding and think the court was somehow going to eventually rule in their favor?
If you aren’t going to learn from history and repeat failures of the past, then of what value are life’s experiences?
A man was elected President of the U.S. who is a narcissist, who has declared bankruptcy four times, who objectifies women, who has been sued (and lost) for racial discrimination, who was sued (and lost) for operating a university that wasn’t a university which ripped off its students for millions of dollars, was caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by their private parts and whose ability to tell lies has been documented on a level perhaps never before seen, even for a politician.
That’s a lot of life experience.
That’s not to say any of the teenagers running for governor are capable of doing the job. But age shouldn’t be a disqualifying factor.
There’s no harm in listening to any serious candidate - whether they are 18 or 80 - who believes they can offer solutions which will make Kansas a better place to live, work and own a business.
If they aren’t a serious candidate that will be evident by the absence of common sense ideas and realistic goals. Our teenage field of gubernatorial candidates are in no danger of cornering that market.
And if the campaign for governor gets our young candidates a date to the school prom or a scholarship to some university, then congratulations.
Consider it a valuable life experience.