The following column comes from House Democratic Leader Paul Davis:

Bipartisanship

A recent statement by Governor Sam Brownback really caught my attention.  He announced his intention to work against moderate Republican state senators in the 2012 Primary Election because they worked with Democrats in the Legislature on a number of issues.  I have been scratching my head about this statement for several days now because it flies in the face of what virtually all Kansans – and Americans - want to see in government.

People are sick of partisan politics.  The federal government has become increasingly polarized because Democrats and Republicans can’t work together.  I acknowledge that President Obama deserves some blame for not being able to forge a better working relationship with Republicans. However, I believe the biggest cause of the increasingly bitter atmosphere in Washington has been the injection of Congress members who are unwilling to work with members of the other political party. They don’t understand that compromise is necessary if government is going to accomplish anything meaningful.

The environment in Washington D.C. has been festering for a long time.  Despite this, state lawmakers in Kansas have always seemed to take a different approach.  We have partisan fights from time to time, but Democrats and Republicans have traditionally been able to work together very well. I’m worried that Washington D.C. influences are changing how things function in Kansas at every level of government.

For example, the Sedgwick County Republican Party recently censured a Republican County Commissioner for publicly supporting his Democratic colleague over the Republican candidate in the upcoming election.  The commissioner was simply stating what he thought would be the best outcome for the people of Sedgwick County.  Actions like those taken by the Sedgwick County Republican Party will increasingly prohibit elected officials from working across party lines for the betterment of their constituencies.

This is why I fear the consequences of Governor Brownback’s pronouncement.  Do the people of Kansas want their representatives to work with each other or not?  I believe the answer is a clear YES.  If that is the case, I hope Kansans will ask political candidates the same question that a bright high school student asked me recently: Give me an example of an issue where you agree with the other political party and where you disagree with your political party?

Hopefully, Kansans will send a strong signal that bi-partisanship is not a dirty word and is actually something that voters will reward on Election Day.

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