Butler County Times Gazette
  • Kent Bush: My 60 days as a RINO

  • Many people register as a Republican just to get to vote in primary elections
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  • I just spent the last 60 days as a RINO.
    In Kansas, RINOs – Republicans In Name Only - are anything but an endangered species. Many people register as a Republican just to get to vote in primary elections.
    That’s exactly why I changed my registration two months ago.
    This week I voted as a Republican for the first time since 1988 when I showed off one of the most awesome mullets in the world as I strutted into the polling place one day after my 18th birthday and proudly voted for George H.W. Bush.
    As far as I could tell, I was a Republican. I was pro-life, very religious and thus, very socially conservative by any standard. After missing one math question on the ACT and excelling in all of my science classes and testing at the time, I also thought I was an engineer and pursued that course of study for five semesters in college.
    A couple of years after that first vote, I had to switch my party because I had been hired by a friend and former teacher to run her State Senate campaign and I thought it would look strange for a Democrat to have a Republican campaign manager.
    I never switched back after that. I had learned that there was more to being a Republican than just being socially conservative.
    Just like that high school version of myself who thought his math and science abilities meant he needed to be an engineer, that Republican version of myself thought that being pro-life and a Christian meant that I was a Republican.
    Both were false assumptions.
    I fell in love with political science and economics and changed from my one major to those two fields as a junior in college. And I never switched my party back either.
    I find Republicans with their conservative competitions and propensity for seeing gray areas as black and white issues unsettling.
    I have lived in Oklahoma and Kansas my entire life. Both states are among the reddest in the nation. The word Oklahoma actually means “land of the red people.” It was true when they named it for one reason. It is still true now for a very different reason.
    As a member of the Democrat minority, I am more conservative socially than about 80 percent of all Republicans. I am more conservative fiscally than most, as well.
    I just refuse to see any issue - whether it is same-sex marriage or carrying an AR-15 into a public library – as black and white. God gave us the ability to reason. It is what separates most of us from the other primates.
    I don’t like the echo chamber where like-minded people tell each other they have everything figured out. I know. FOX News and every AM talk radio show are an answer to the “liberal media” that bent minds to the left for years.
    Page 2 of 2 - Some people don’t like the fact that someone can legally be a RINO and vote in a primary election and then switch party affiliations and vote as a Democrat in the General Election.
    But that is the only way you can handle it if you live in a state with closed primaries. Some states allow all voters to come to the polling place declare which primary they are participating in that same day.
    But not Kansas, so I am left with the option of retaking my position as the most conservative Democrat in Kansas, becoming an Independent and changing my affiliation any time I want to vote in a primary or just staying a RINO.
    It makes it more difficult when there are three options because you can’t flip a coin. Well you can, but it turns into some sort of tournament that lasts longer than the NBA playoffs.
    You have to wonder how many people make this same decision every election season. There has to be a better way.
    Kent  Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: kbush@butlercountytimesgazette.com

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