Does Ruining a State Reflect Moral Turpitude?

Kansas’ embattled right-wing Republicans probably think they got a divine assist from the revelation that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul David received a lap dance sixteen years ago.

But I dunno. Ruining a state’s fiscal condition, and damaging its schools, as Gov. Sam Brownback has done, not as the indiscretion of a single man “in the wrong place at the wrong time” but with malice aforethought and as the perfect expression of his values, strikes me as worse. Here’s how WaPo’s editorial board put it:

Mr. Brownback has cherry-picked the statistics to suggest that things aren’t as bad as they seem, while arguing that it’s still too early — more than a year and a half after his cuts were enacted — to gauge their full impact. Meanwhile, Wall Street’s bond rating agencies, taking note of plummeting tax revenue and a siphoning off of the state’s reserves to cover current and projected deficits, have weighed in with their own verdict: Moody’s cut Kansas’s credit rating last spring, and Standard & Poor’s followed suit last month….

[S]pending reductions have been sufficiently draconian and divisive that large numbers of Kansans, including more than 100 current and former GOP elected officials, have expressed alarm and are supporting the man trying to unseat Mr. Brownback, Paul Davis, the Democratic minority leader in the state’s House of Representatives. There have been particular expressions of anxiety about cuts to per-pupil expenditures in public schools, which have dropped more than 10 percent since 2008.

Is conducting the kind of “experiment” Brownback has undertaken with such disastrous results an offense reflecting moral turpitude? That may be the ultimate question Kansas voters will answer this November.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.