MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - What a fall it has been! One blue-sky day has followed another, with the warm sun calling us to spend as much time as possible out-of-doors and the cool nights making a couple of blankets feel just right. The prairie grasses are still billowing on the inland sea, still tall after a season of good rains. They are ghosts of their summer selves now, but zany ghosts that form wild chorus lines in the autumn winds and wear madcap colors -- ochre, umber, lavender, red, brown, gold, and rose. Who could experience the Flint Hills in the fall and not be moved?
I have different emotions about the political season. There are some candidates, Republican and Democrat, whom I am proud to support, such as Larry Hicks, Ben Bennett, Tom Moxley, and Chris Biggs. But other aspects of our politics make me sick.
It makes me almost physically ill when politicians stir up hot-button issues rather than discuss problems realistically. They make people think politics is simple -- a matter of angels and demons -- rather than what it usually is -- a mix of complexities, contingencies, and unknowns. Right now there are politicians demonizing "illegal aliens," Muslims, gays, "the regime," and of course the President himself in ways that don't connect up with practical solutions to any defined problems. Rather, the rhetoric is all about status -- an invitation to voters to join a virtuous "us" against a dangerous and degenerate "them."