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Kansas Politics and Government

The Clash of Political Cultures

H. Edward Flentje and Joseph A. Aistrup

Publication Year: 2010

The rich history of Kansas politics continues to generate an abundant literature. The state’s beginning as “Bleeding Kansas” followed by Prohibition, populism, the Progressive Era, and the Dust Bowl, through to the present day, have given local and national writers and scholars an intriguing topic for exploration. While historians and biographers shed light on pieces of this history, journalists focus on current political affairs in the state. Rarely, however, are past and present connected to fully illuminate an understanding of Kansas politics and government. This volume uses the prism of political cultures to interpret Kansas politics and disclose the intimate connections between the state’s past and its current politics. The framework of political cultures evolves from underlying political preferences for liberty, order, and equality, and these preferences form the basis for the active political cultures of individualism, hierarchy, and egalitarianism. This comprehensive examination of Kansas political institutions argues that Kansas politics, historically and presently, may best be understood as a clash of political cultures.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Politics and Governments of the American States

Title Page

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pp. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vi

List of Tables

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The rich history of Kansas politics continues to spawn an abundant literature on the subject. Our state’s beginning as Bleeding Kansas followed by prohibition, populism, the progressive era, a national depression, and the Dust Bowl has given local and national scribes, as well as scholars, an intriguing topic for conversation and serious study. More recent developments ...

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pp. xi-xxiv

Few news stories in recent memory have come to symbolize Kansas politics in the twenty-first century more than the controversy over the inclusion of Darwin’s theory of evolution in the science standards for Kansas public schools. This saga was not Kansas’ first brush with the issue, but it is the state’s most memorable one.1 In 1999 six Republicans on the Kansas State ...

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1. Political Cultures

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pp. 1-29

An array of forces shape state politics. Reflecting the diversity of these political influences, observers of Kansas politics draw from various theories to explain the state’s political history or its current politics. Unfortunately, the explanatory powers of these theories fade as new political occurrences or movements arise. For example, explanations of the populist movement ...

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2. The Constitution

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pp. 30-49

Following the prevailing political winds of the dominant political cultures, the Kansas Constitution has been interpreted, reinterpreted, revised, and amended to reflect the needs of the state’s citizens. In the early years of statehood its articles mirrored the wishes of free-soil Republicans who dominated the Wyandotte Convention in 1859. In the late nineteenth century ...

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3. Elections and Political Parties

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pp. 50-72

Since Kansas became a state in 1861, the Republican Party has dominated the state’s political landscape by winning the vast majority of county, state, and national offices. For many, Kansas is the epitome of a “red” state.1 The state is so dominated by the gop that neither of the major parties’ presidential hopefuls bother to campaign in Kansas. This portrayal, however, is akin ...

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4. The State Legislature

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pp. 73-99

In many ways the Kansas legislature is the prototypical part-time citizen state legislature. Respecting the state’s agricultural tradition, the first rap of the gavel starting each legislative session is on the second Monday in January, and the legislative session is limited to the winter and early spring months.1 House members serve two-year terms, and senators serve four ...

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5. The Governor

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pp. 100-129

The elected chief executive represents a uniquely American invention that provides an independent source of energy and initiative in democratic governance. State governors occupy a preeminent position in state government that parallels the U.S. president at the national level. The powers of governorship offer those who occupy the office the potential for state leadership ...

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6. Interest Groups and Lobbying

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pp. 130-149

On any given day when the legislature is in session, various groups of Kansans can be found milling about the capitol rotunda. Every fifteen to thirty minutes cavalcades of students with their teachers invade and retreat from the capitol’s historic hallways as they learn about its construction, renovations, murals, statuary, and of course, its dome. On their way out they typically ...

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7. State and Local Governments in a Federal Structure

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pp. 150-169

Kansas governments operate within a federal structure in which contending cultural forces loom large. The U.S. Constitution and ever-broadening interpretations of national authority introduce a degree of hierarchy into the federal structure. Further, the authoritative acts of presidents, congresses, and federal courts, as well as national spending capacity, enforce a semblance ...

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8. Taxing, Spending, and Borrowing

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pp. 170-192

Alexander Hamilton and Andrew Jackson offered the nation competing visions of public finance. Hamilton championed a hierarchic view of the U.S. Constitution and envisioned national taxing and borrowing that would firmly elevate national power at the expense of state governments. Jackson vigorously challenged this view believing that freedom and equality could best ...

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9. Kansas Politics in State and Nation

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pp. 193-199

The clash of political cultures has placed Kansas in the national spotlight at various times throughout state history and has made Kansas politics an intriguing topic for both casual observers and serious scholars. Abolitionists, prohibitionists, populists, progressives, and more recently polar alliance Republicans have shaped the state’s political landscape and also left ...


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pp. 201-206


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pp. 207-238

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Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 239-244

Two general volumes provide starting points for further study of Kansas politics and government. The first is James Drury’s The Government of Kansas, first published in 1961 by the University of Kansas Press and most recently updated in its sixth edition (Drury and Stottlemire, 2001). as the title suggests, this volume covers the structure and functions of state government. State politics, political history and culture, local ...


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pp. 245-261

E-ISBN-13: 9780803228214
E-ISBN-10: 080322821X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803269194
Print-ISBN-10: 0803269196

Page Count: 290
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Politics and Governments of the American States