Kansas Politics and Government
The Clash of Political Cultures
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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Table of Contents
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List of Illustrations
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List of Tables
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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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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 ...
1. Political Cultures
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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 ...
2. The Constitution
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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 ...
3. Elections and Political Parties
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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 ...
4. The State Legislature
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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 ...
5. The Governor
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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 ...
6. Interest Groups and Lobbying
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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 ...
7. State and Local Governments in a Federal Structure
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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 ...
8. Taxing, Spending, and Borrowing
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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 ...
9. Kansas Politics in State and Nation
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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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Suggestions for Further Reading
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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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Page Count: 290
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Politics and Governments of the American States