Here’s a party for Kansas moderates

United Kansas is a fusion party, where both Democrats and Republicans are on the slate of nominations

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Columnists

June 10, 2024 - 1:25 PM

Moderates from both sides struggle to survive in a system designed to elevate the most “pure” candidate of each election cycle.

In the real world, few choices are limited to either this or that. 

Yet, in the political world that affects so much of our world, voters are given only two choices in candidates: Republican or Democratic. 

Moreover, our primary system rewards politicians who take the most extreme positions. 

Moderates from both sides struggle to survive in a system designed to elevate the most “pure” candidate of each election cycle. 

This dynamic of the two-party system exaggerates our divisions. 

It widens the gulf between our elected officials, harming the spirit of compromise and making effective governance more difficult. 

It also makes it seem as though everyday Kansans are as divided as the politicians they elect — when the truth is that most of us have common ground.

A House divided

I’ve been in the Kansas House for three terms, since 2017. 

And I’ve watched as each side has grown further apart, at times creating rancor in the legislative session and making it hard for anyone trying to reach across the aisle to collaborate and get things done. 

My view typically is that Republicans and Democrats have different philosophies on government. 

Republicans tend to see government as a tool to help business; Democrats tend to see it more as a tool to help people. 

I relate more to the latter, but the truth is we can’t have all of one and none of the other. 

Policy that blends both ideals tends to produce the best outcomes for the most people. 

Many voters in my district understand that. I have a large number of unaffiliated voters in my district, and I know a lot of moderate Republicans and Democrats who long for civility and productivity in government. 

Unfortunately, those in the middle are often ignored both in political campaigns and in policymaking in Topeka. 

It’s easy to feel negative about politics, but I’m encouraged by the efforts of a new party this election — the United Kansas Party, which recently had petition signatures approved to get on the ballot this November. 

The founders of the party are focused on economic opportunity, affordable health care, quality education, infrastructure, protecting our natural resources, ethical government and coming together to get things done.

What is fusion voting? 

They plan to nominate Republicans and Democrats who align with their values. 

That’s the most important and intriguing aspect of the United Kansas party. They’re not planning to run their own standalone candidates, because minor party candidates almost never win — they just risk spoiling elections and wasting their supporters’ votes. 

Instead, United Kansas is aiming to revive fusion voting. 

Fusion is where two or more parties each nominate the same candidate, but voters get to express their support for that candidate on the ballot line that most closely matches their values. 

I’ve always been a fan of anything that increases voter engagement. I think fusion voting — which was common in Kansas until the early 1900s — could helpfully disrupt how our entrenched political system works. 

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