It is a strange thing to say in the year 2014, as the political battle-lines grow harder and our bitter-enders ever more bitter, but there was a time when I didn’t think of my home state of Kansas as a particularly right-wing place.
It is true that the Kansas City suburb where I grew up teemed with standard-issue business-class Republicans back in the ’70s and ’80s; I had been one myself once upon a time. But I also knew that Kansas was the kind of place that valued education, that built big boring suburbs, that never did anything risky or exciting. Its politics in those days were utterly forgettable, dominated by a succession of bland Republican moderates and unambitious Democrats. We were the epitome of unremarkableness. When the notorious “Summer of Mercy” took place in 1991 — the event that marked the beginning of the state’s long march to the right — I remember reading about it from graduate school in Chicago and thinking how strange it was that Operation Rescue had chosen Wichita as the place to make its stand. After all, Kansas wasn’t in the South.
It wasn’t until several years later that I began to understand what a fascinating, upside-down extravaganza it was to see the right eat its way through the good sense of the nation. Of course, many others had written about the movement by then, largely in the key of horror and tearful deploring. But relatively few seemed to get the sheer literary potential of the nation’s big right turn, and as I surveyed the political headlines day after day, I grew more and more amazed at what was going on. (Thomas Frank, "The matter with Kansas now," Salon.com)