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It has also been widely reported that the Tea Party has received significant financial support from wealthy donors. As a political phenomenon, then, the Tea Party shares many of the same tenets and clearly emerged from some of the same forces and fears that gave rise to the American Liberty League in This might be more in keeping with his style of governance, but it may be a decision he will live to regret come November.

He most recently published the edited volume Progressivism in America: Past Present and Future. The Blog of the Roosevelt Institute. His grassroots campaign quickly aligned itself with post-Trump resistance movements while focusing on jobs, education and veteran issues. Ted Cruz went to Kansas to rally the base.


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The president bleated an Estes endorsement on Twitter for good measure. Ultimately, for the scrappy, local progressives who energized southern Kansans across party lines, it was victory in loss: Thompson came within seven points of winning a US House seat that has been held by Republicans for a quarter of a century. Such a swing would unseat Republican representatives in more than districts.

It is likely that most members of that chattering class have never lived in Kansas —which may be filed somewhere in their brains as a red square rather than 82, square miles of 3 million people. Since then, most of us have settled into a destructive habit of envisioning entire states as political monoliths, our country two disparate sociopolitical lands. In fact, most whites in the north were on the right side of history because of where they happened to live, and they too benefited from slavery and white supremacy. Yet, with our notoriously short-term American political memory, we have no problem again constructing two pat sides: My family has farmed wheat crops, raised and butchered livestock, worked on factory assembly lines, and hammered together buildings there for five generations.

How political nuance could save America

I find the area to be more apolitical than conservative, more concerned with personal freedom than with telling women what to do with their bodies or transgender kids where to pee. Most Kansans I know loathed extreme conservative Sam Brownback before the gubernatorial election, yet he eked out re-election. As a professor at a state university and a fundraiser for nonprofit social-service agencies, I have rallied with them during the Brownback era — our state portender of the national Trump era.

I have seen Kansas small bookstore owners set up write-your-representative tables and pay for the postage. I have seen my former college students paint rainbow stripes across a residence next to the hatemongering Westboro Baptist church in Topeka and call it Equality House in defiant celebration of LGBT Kansans. When Brownback demolished state funding for the arts during his first term, the New York Times reported, a small-town Kansas woman — who could have chosen to move — kept her art gallery financially afloat by canceling custodial services and scrubbing the toilets herself.

The Tea Party Movement: Successor to the American Liberty League? - Roosevelt Institute

He had just sent Thompson and his family home after the concession speech, but morale was high. Like a proper midwesterner, Curtis — who was a toddler the last time a Democrat won the seat — abstained from making a single complaint. Thompson could have won if neoliberals in Washington had given a damn! The party is useless! Kansas is a bunch of idiots anyway! Curtis said flying under the national radar had been to their benefit for most of the campaign.

The day after the election, Thompson — sounding tired but upbeat, having just announced that he will vie for the House seat again in the midterms — said it had been just as Curtis predicted. He admitted it was frustrating to be written off by potential funders and boosters due to the perception that the race was an unwinnable waste.

Kansas election: Ron Estes scrapes Republican victory deep in Trump heartland

While national party investment in his campaign was negligible, national grassroots unity proved essential. Those face-to-face contacts are what allowed them to flip Sedgwick County, he said.

Ron Paul: Feds will deepen crisis over economy

Because they made it as possible as we could have made it here. For me, it was heartening to watch even moral support pour in from across the country. So happy I could help from a distance. My mom and her family are from KS. She would be so proud. I went to KU and I have been pained to see what has happened to my adopted state. I teared up reading the comments. The Thompson campaign found a similar spirit of human connection across supposed divides on the campaign trail, Curtis said.


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They care about which friends listen to them, help them out, do good things, are good people. Rural whites, however, indeed have swung right in my lifetime — an issue Thompson believes he can surmount with more time. Thompson was proud to be endorsed by and speak up on behalf of Planned Parenthood, local Black Lives Matter activists, and other groups with liberal social missions. But just about everyone he spoke with wanted to discuss healthcare, education, jobs.

He grew up in poverty in Oklahoma City with a stay-at-home mom and his stepdad, a carpet-layer.

Boston Tea Party

He filed for emancipation, graduated from high school, and got a theater scholarship to the University of Central Oklahoma. Joining the army, he figured, would provide financial security, a paid education, a chance to get out of Oklahoma, the honor of serving his country.

Thompson went to basic training on 31 July