While many liberal politicians advocate for more regulations, especially for the environment and business, conservative politicians are often equally fond of more government rules.
As voters in Kansas have seen, the difference is in the kind of regulations sought by the left and right.
For example, because of laws approved by Republican lawmakers at the insistence of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Kansans must deal with more regulations and paperwork to vote than most Americans do.
Kobach and his supporters argue the added regulations were needed to guard against voter fraud. Critics claim they’re intended to prevent citizens who are likely not Republicans from participating in elections.
Kansas Republicans also have used heavy-handed regulations to control the behavior of Kansans who receive welfare.
And they have used regulations to try to put health-care providers who perform abortions out of business. Their aim is to make government regulations so onerous and expensive that doctors and clinics stop providing abortions. For example, last year Kansas lawmakers passed a law that dictates the size of the print and the specific font that health-care providers must use in informational materials.
The Legislature also decided last year to punish some Kansans for their views on Israel.
Specifically, lawmakers in Topeka decided that anyone who boycotts Israel for any reason is unworthy of having a business relationship with Kansas government.
Among those affected is Esther Koontz, a teacher. She was told she could not be paid as a state-approved trainer of math teachers because she had decided for religious reasons to boycott Israel and Israeli businesses because of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Supporters of the Kansas law claim that it is not discriminatory for the state to bar Kansans such as Koontz from getting state contracts. But they say it is discriminatory for private citizens to boycott a country because they disagree with that nation’s policies.
Kansas is one of more than 20 states that has such a law. Texas is another. There, some officials claim that anyone who boycotts Israel is banned from receiving any government-sponsored disaster relief for the floods and hurricanes that pounded the state last summer.
Not surprisingly, opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have gone to court to challenge the states’ laws on Israeli boycotts.
The ways in which politicians want to use regulations to make Americans think and act usually swing with the political party that is in power.
At the federal level, for example, President Trump’s Republican administration has forbidden staff at government agencies from using certain words. According to articles in the Washington Post, staff at the Centers for Disease Control were directed not to use such terminology as “science-based” or “diversity” when preparing budget documents.
Staff in other agencies have been banned from uttering “climate change” on official social media accounts.
Many Republicans also want to extend laws and regulations to ensure certain behavior at sporting events.
In Indiana, a state lawmaker has proposed a law to force sports teams to refund ticket prices to fans who are upset by protests by athletes. He claims such protests reduce the entertainment value of the event.
If that’s the case, then let’s include refunds for those whose experience at games is sullied by drunks throwing up on them or chuckleheads yelling nonstop obscenities.
Or, we could refrain from the urge to pass laws every time we want to coerce people to act, talk and behave the way we want them to.
That would require Americans to understand that government should not be telling us what it means to be patriotic. Or creating unnecessary barriers for voters. Or financially punishing people because they refuse to support Israel over Palestinians.
Some new regulations may be needed, but our support shouldn’t be based on whether they are foisted on us by the right or the left. It would be better to consider whether proposed rules would make the country a better place while enhancing the freedoms of all Americans.
A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers in California, Indiana and New York, as well as across Kansas.