Editorial Commentary: Ken Ciboski

Political commentator Ken Ciboski stands just right of center and offers a common-sense view of politics today.

Ken Ciboski's editorial commentary is also available on iTunes. Listen or subscribe here.

Yesterday was primary election day in Kansas. Fair and frequent elections are necessary conditions for a country to have a democracy. Even so, prior to the election the expected turnout was 26 percent of registered voters. With so many offices up for election, why do so few people vote? Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if we had an election and nobody came? 

The confirmation process in the Senate for Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court is much closer to beginning in earnest. Kavanaugh has submitted a large number of pages of information about himself that was requested by the Senate judiciary committee. Appointments to the Supreme Court are fraught with politics and controversy since the Court’s decisions have great influence on the politics and culture of American society.

The primary election season to select this year’s candidates for office is near. We should remember that the road to democracy has been long, and ideas for and against a universal and equal franchise have been expressed in history.

Stephanie Mitchell

Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than 20 years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America. Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many Americans never thought they would be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Levitsky and Ziblatt believe that the answer is yes. 

The United States’ political system is considered to be a Majoritarian system, which allows for a majority to prevail over a minority. The 2016 election outcome should force us to reckon with a problem in our democracy that is often ignored. The problem is that our political system is increasingly allowing a minority to rule over a majority.

The is true of the Electoral College, which produced a presidential win for Donald Trump even as he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes.

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It again seems likely that the United States-North Korea summit will take place next month. Delegations from both countries have arrived in Singapore to work out logistical problems and other issues for the likely meeting.

The Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether or not the legislature’s decision to provide $500 million for K-12 schools over the next five years meets the test of adequate and equitable funding. Also, the legislature has not yet devised a formula for guiding the funding of schools for future years. I remain skeptical that the infusion of more money will “fix” the problem of large numbers of students not performing well academically.

The state legislature, under an edict of the Kansas Supreme Court to fund K-12 education adequately, passed in the last minutes of this year’s session a $500 million+ measure in new funding to cover the next five years. This will be reviewed by the court for funding adequacy. 

Some behaviors of President Trump have caused political scientists, historians and other observers to wonder how committed he is to the democratic rules of the political game. Early in the election campaign, he had praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin and he displayed a fascination with other autocratic leaders such as Kim Jong Un of North Korea. 

Since Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, his inner circle of trusted advisors has decreased. This past week, Hope Hicks, who was like a daughter to the president, was the fourth communications director to leave the administration. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was stripped of high-level security clearance because of potential conflicts of interest. A question now could be: Who wants to work in the White House and have their reputation damaged?

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