“The Eclipsed State.” That was the title of the chapter about Kansas from a book years ago about each and every state. It was the authors’ contention that Kansas, once a bell-weather state and a harbinger of things to come, had been “eclipsed” by the times, and that Kansas’ reputation and as incubator of progressive social and political causes was a thing of the past. “Bleeding Kansas,” the deadly struggle over slavery preceded the Civil War. Kansas was the first to belly up to the dry, prohibition trough and was a hotbed of populist activism as the 19th century drew to a close.
And presidential campaigns over the last few decades have also eclipsed Kansas, owing to its relative small number of delegates and rather conservative voting habits. But this time around, not only are the candidates buying radio and television ads, they are actually appearing in the Sunflower State. The biggest show in the race hasn’t dropped by, but you never know when they’ll need some gas and might make a quick airport appearance.
It’s good that we’re not being totally ignored by the presidential race and that our caucuses count for something. I just wish the enterprise felt more like a dignified affair, rather than a circus train barreling at us clinging to the rails. It will also be a nice barometer on where Kansans gather in the midst of this three-ringed extravaganza.