Steve, Cathy, and Nicholas -- Steve applies to be a Midwest Voices columnist yet again (created 2012-12-17)

Every year, the Kansas City Star invites regular people to volunteer for the Midwest Voices, a panel of writers for the editorial page. They want 5 articles of up to 600 words from each of a dozen people, and the panel gets opportunities to share additional writing on the Kansas City Star blog. I've tried applying several times, and decided to try yet again this year. You have to submit a sample column, describe yourself and your political beliefs briefly, and suggest five additional topics for future columns. I won't get selected, of course. But it's worth a try. Here is the sample column that I submitted.

"Kansas Republicans, say hello to your newest RINO."

I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and am proud to call myself a Baltimoron. I lived in the city limits, and let me tell you, there is no more Democratic place on the earth than Baltimore City. The primary is the interesting election, and whoever wins on the Democratic side faces no opposition, or only token opposition in the regular election.

The apple never falls very far from the tree, so I registered as a Democrat at age 18. My first big election was the 1976 Iowa presidential caucus. Iowa is either the most wonderful state in the world or the most miserable state in the world, because all the presidential hopefuls spend years in Iowa courting the Caucus voters. I liked a guy from Arizona, Mo Udall, but it was hard to pick from a slate of almost a dozen serious contenders. Some unknown governor from Arkansas [oops! did I actually say this? I meant to say Georgia] ended up winning Iowa.

Iowa back in the 70s was a blue state, but not quite as blue as my hometown. I remember a Republican named Jim Leach coming to eat with us in the Hillcrest dormitory. He got elected over the much better Democrat, Ed Mezvinsky, but if you want to win so bad that you'll eat dormitory food, you've probably earned your place in the House of Representatives. Mr. Leach actually did a pretty good job when he got elected.

I'm living in Kansas now, a state with a robust two party system. There's the conservative Republican party and the ultra-conservative Republican party. The thing about being a Democrat in Kansas is that our primary is boring, boring, boring. There's very little competition for those token opposition roles, and half the time, there isn't even a single person on the primary for key races. Hey guys, couldn't you find a single sacrificial lamb to run against Kevin Yoder? I guess it was the thought that they'd have to eat food in one of the KU dormitories that kept them out of the race.

There's always a slim ray of hope for Kansas Democrats, because once in a while the Republicans would nominate someone who was so clearly unqualified for the job that no rational person would vote for them in the general election. Half of the time this worked, but the desire to vote for a Republican, any Republican, even an unqualified Republican, over any Democrat is too strong for some of my fellow Kansans. All the straight Democratic party line votes from me and my fellow Baltimorons came back to haunt me.

So in 2012, I decided to switch to the Republican Party. You might think that I'm doing it to make trouble, but I'm going to vote smart. I want to see the best Republican running in the general election, even if they're not as good as the Democratic contender. I want two good choices in the general election and if my favored candidate still loses, at least they won't lose to someone like Phill Kline. And I promise that I'll stop voting a straight party line in the general election. It wasn't a good idea in Baltimore and it's not a good idea in Kansas either.

So the Kansas Republican party just got a little more liberal. Say hello to your newest RINO.

What now?

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Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. This page was written by Steve Simon and was last modified on 2010-11-03.