Here’s the scoop: Kansas politics is a swirl

Here’s the scoop: Kansas politics is a swirl

There is an old adage that one shouldn’t talk about politics or religion in polite company. The saying always made little sense to me because to the best of my recollection that is all we ever discussed at family gatherings. In these tribal times, maybe it is best to talk about one thing upon which we can all agree: Ice cream is pretty much a gift from heaven. (Whoops, allow me a little religion.)

My mom’s homemade ice cream is the best in the world, and when the recipe is handed off to my older sister there is nothing quite like it. I remember waiting for what seemed like hours for that old electric motor to seize up, signaling that the creamy delight was ready to eat. To my child’s mind that 20 minutes took hours.

The ozone smell of burning electricity still reminds me of homemade treats. My cranky grandfather’s redeeming feature was his love of frozen goodness. He would often consume a whole brick at a time! I remember my first-grade teacher letting us hand crank ice cream and eat it in class! Isn’t the best part of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy the scene in which Laura’s older sister makes ice cream?

But even ice cream can cause divisions among people. Mark Tallman will not eat anything chocolate, even chocolate ice cream. Many consider it his only flaw. On the other hand, in my mind, the only vanilla ice cream worthy of consumption comes from my mom’s recipe/sister’s freezer. Because of a drop or two of lemon flavor, it’s not purely vanilla. Most people don’t feel as strongly as Mark or I, but everyone has a favorite. Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla? (I will pause for you to discuss among yourselves.)

Based upon what I can find on the internet, the binary choice between the two is a dead heat. Some sites say chocolate is the favorite, some vanilla. One thing is clear though, when presented with a choice between chocolate, vanilla, and anything else, anything else wins every time. If this were a scientific paper, I would note that some of the research is questionable – one site listed Neapolitan as a flavor choice. Neapolitan is the inability to make a choice! But I digress.

The point is most people like ice cream with some of both – rocky road, chocolate chip, chocolate swirl, etc.

The geniuses at Dairy Queen capitalized on this when they invented the Blizzard. With this advancement in ice cream science, you get to choose vanilla or chocolate and add anything you want! Does anyone order a vanilla blizzard? Of course not; that would just be ice cream!

Although I would love to babble on about ice cream, my oppressive editor, Scott Rothschild, generally insists that I have an education-related point. So, let me shift from a discussion of chocolate and vanilla to one of Republican and Democrat. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

I was looking at a map of election results recently and noticed that it represented Kansas as a county by county binary state – either red or blue. A glance at the map would lead one to believe that we are deeply divided. But I spend a lot of time with Kansans, and I know that we aren’t a chocolate or vanilla state. We enjoy a host of political flavors. In fact, one only has to look at a couple of statewide races to see it. Laura Kelly won the governor’s race – she is a Democrat who has a history of working with Republicans.

The top vote getter in the state was Vicki Schmidt, a Republican who has the reputation of being willing to work with Democrats. The best representation of this was done by Representative Adam Smith of Wallace County when he produced a map showing Kansas counties by population and by how strongly they supported one candidate or another. His map shows we are more alike than different – neither chocolate or vanilla, but a big blizzard of beliefs.

Kansans hold strong contrary beliefs about important issues like health care, the second amendment, abortion, due process rights, etc. and believe our public schools need to be fully funded and focused on student success. School boards members may register as Republican, Democrat, or Independent, but they agree that the key ingredient to our state’s future is strong public schools!