Let the primary season begin

In Kansas the deadline to file for state and county offices is June 1. In many ways it looks like it could be an adventuresome summer as the rhetoric is sure to heat up like the prairie winds as the Aug. 7 primary looms.

As I have gotten to know election counters in other states, Kansas is not much different from her neighboring states although the filing deadline and primary maybe on slightly different timelines. Nov. 6 is the date that is being targeted by Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians and any other party wanting to make a strong showing.

At the federal level, it will be the usual slog about whether the commander-in-chief is fit for command during the “crucial” mid-term election. I’ve heard this story before over the years as this time it will be Democrats raising the battle flag against President Donald Trump. In the midterms of 2014 it was the Republicans who were raising their flag to right the wrong of President Barack Obama.

Watching democracy in action (or inaction) was not designed to be a sideline sport so I salute the candidates and all those who support their campaigns. I don’t know why but 2018 seems to be more tiring than others although I’m going to guess it will be because of social media and social activists who focus on a few comments rather than the context of the message.

The messenger (typically the journalist) is caught in-between this new form of “guerrilla warfare”. Journalism and political writing has never been an easy task; however it is enlightening and a good way to stay informed on issues. It was the candidate who felt he or she could make a difference first on the campaign trail who could best articulate and connect with the voters who won the seat.

If elected, after taking office, if he or she could fulfill promises or at least provide a realistic explanation on why a promise could not be kept, voters were inclined to retain the office-holder.

For many years the incumbent’s task was to build a trusting relationship with constituents that allowed him or her to have the courage to vote his or her conscience when conventional wisdom might be to cast the vote a different way.  There are consequences. In Kansas, U.S. Sen. Edmund Ross in 1868 voted against impeaching President Andrew Johnson. His no vote ended his political career in the Jayhawk state. U.S. Sen. Howard Baker in 1973 asked the famous question during the Watergate hearing—“What did the president know and when did he know it?” President Richard Nixon ultimately resigned in August 1974. Baker never faced voter retaliation despite the midterms that year as Democrats swept the two bodies and established a near two-thirds margin in the midterms of November 1974.

The primary deadline reminds me that perhaps a good question to ask a candidate, regardless of the office he or she is seeking, is “What was the toughest decision you personally ever had to make?”

It all starts at home.