OPINION: Here’s how Kansans can help Democrats


Anna Vazhaeparambil/Harker Aquila

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Ver.) speaks to supporters during a rally in San Francisco on March 24, 2019. The event, attended by over 16,000 people, completed his inaugural California tour in his 2020 campaign.

Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner of the national Democratic primary, and major national polls project his victory over Trump in the general election. The senator’s unabashedly progressive stances could spark a meaningful pendulum swing back from a destructive Trump era. But what can leftists and Democrats do from Kansas, where a Democrat hasn’t won a general presidential election since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964?

While lines on a map make Kansas a red state, there is strong support for pro-working-class candidates like Sanders, whose Wichita rally in support of congressional candidate James Thompson drew more than 4,000 people, according to The Wichita Eagle.

The failure of liberals in 2016 should have been a lesson to centrist Democrats worried about so-called radical policies. The current president won advocating war crimes. Comparatively, socialized healthcare, free state schools, and a green new deal paid for by higher taxes on the rich — even if you disagree with these policies — sounds less menacing.

If simply defeating Trump is most important to you, Sanders is the choice. The frontrunner remains one of the most-liked politicians in the country, according to a USA Today/Ipsos poll.

Unfortunately for Kansas voters, the DNC will have already selected a candidate or be facing a contested convention by the time the Kansas primary rolls around in May. It’s also extremely likely the state’s delegates will go to Sanders, based on his overwhelming 2016 Kansas primary victory over Hillary Clinton.

Right now, a decisive primary is more important than potentially flipping Kansas for Democrats. Drawn-out preliminary campaigns waste resources Democrats need for the general election.

If you’ve recently moved to Kansas, your absentee vote might be more decisive back home.

Besides your vote, which matters symbolically, Kansans still have free speech. Any visibility helps normalize popular policies, such as marijuana legalization, which are often dismissed as unrealistic.

Open honesty about who you support and why is the easiest way to help the frontrunner. You can argue within political groups, such as the Wichita State College Democrats, or other collegiate administrative groups, to declare support. Even posting in your group chats helps.

Progressives and liberals can prepare for the general election now. Pushing back against Trump’s propaganda machines, and the bogus attacks on Sanders’s character from centrists, in online forums such as Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook groups, will be crucial in this campaign. The meme war is real, so graphic designers shouldn’t feel left out.

Answering questions online about Sanders isn’t wasted time, as long as you understand not everyone is willing to be won over.  If the responses bother you, shut them off.

But popularity doesn’t necessarily win U.S. elections. The DNC electoral system is even more convoluted than the national one, so Kansans must take extra action to have their voices heard.

For Kansans progressives, organizing carpools to canvass Texas before their vote on March 3 could be the most impactful and cost-effective electoral effort you participate in. In Texas, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, Sanders is projected to win by only two points over Biden, and, he’s only two points below the president. The fact that Texas appears to be a swing state under a Sanders ticket should excite any Democrat.

Solidarity between establishment Democrats and progressives will be crucial to an effective campaign after the Democratic National Convention in July. It’s time to get behind Sanders and win.