Kansas lawmakers are supposed to listen to their constituents. Here's what you can do to make your voice heard.
Those of us who follow the news and share our opinions with you weekly are sometimes presented with contradictions.
Take this example: Polls show strong majorities of Kansans support expanding the state Medicaid program, also known as KanCare. Similarly, residents support common-sense gun legislation such as background checks.
Yet legislators in Topeka don’t do these things. Instead, they’ve dragged their feet for nearly a decade on Medicaid expansion. And they’re pushing the boundaries of gun legislation, advocating for open carry and removing age restrictions.
Put simply, legislators aren’t listening to their constituents.
But their constituents aren’t holding their legislators to account either.
This summer, state senators and representatives will be back in their home districts. We hope they hold meetings and actually ask the people they represent what they want. We also hope that constituents show up to make their preferences heard. If you want Medicaid expansion, if you want sensible gun laws, you have to make your voice heard.
Beyond that, if you’re a constituent, you must vote. You must make it clear that there will be consequences at the ballot box if the people who represent you don’t listen. That means making a plan and casting a ballot in a primary election, given the GOP’s dominance of state politics.
Some have made sure to register as Republicans to have a voice in these elections, and depending on your beliefs, that might be a wise move.
The point is, lawmakers should want to please their constituents. They are supposed to serve you, not an ideology or a special interest group. But the only way they know that is if you tell them.
That doesn’t let senators or representatives off the hook, either. Regardless of whether you represent Kansas in Washington, D.C., or Garden City or Pittsburg in Topeka, listen to your voters. Hold town hall meetings this summer and invite everyone, not just a small band of passionate followers.
Don’t cherry-pick who you want to hear from.
We don’t elect people to represent a party. We don’t elect people to represent God or Donald Trump (and indeed, we believe these two figures to be different). We elect people to represent us. That means Republican and Democrat and independent, man and woman, black and white, gay and straight, you name it.
That’s their job. And they need to get with it.