Elections and so many civic issues are simply decided by a vast array of special interest groups. It would be pointless to rage over this process because so few voters are engaged enough to change it in the first place. What’s more productive is to look at the elements on the fringe and see the way these relatively small time groups grasp for their small piece of the political pie. Sure, anybody can rage over the influence of the The Greater KC Chamber of Commerce but that would overlook other small timers trying to play the same role to a lesser extent. For the most part, these groups don’t really matter but when elections are close (as many will be during this upcoming cycle) these groups wield even more influence.
So, not every so often, even the tiniest fish in this Kansas City political pond can pretend to maybe actually have a bit of power.
1. Kansas City’s Somali Community – This is the newest group in the local political scene and they could very well decide the election between Will Royster and John Joseph Rizzo in the Missouri District 40 race that I’ve been following. One of the biggest things this group has in favor is that there is a bit of unanimity in their decisions and while their numbers aren’t huge, so far their leadership has been able to realize that they have a bit of power when voting in a bloc.
2. Local Political Ladies – I don’t know why this group doesn’t get the respect they deserve but from my brief interaction with politically minded women, I realize that they’re basically running this town when it comes to local insider gossip. That’s why it’s a big deal when the KC Women’s Political Caucus decides to stop supporting any male candidates. While female unity is a myth, it would be unwise to ignore the influence local ladies hold.
3. The Revs – Anybody who wants a vote on Kansas City Eastside is going to have to talk to a Rev. at a major congregation at some point. On talk radio names like James Tindall and Rev. “Fuzzy” Thompson are reviled as they have continued to hold onto influence in Kansas City’s African-American community. Like it or not.
4. JoCo Consumers – Nobody cares that the buying power of Kansas City’s Northland is quickly supplanting the so-called “Golden Ghetto” as the more important financial demographic. In the foreseeable future the buying power of this group represents the brass ring for any local development from party districts to pro-sports teams. Sure, this isn’t an underrated group, but nobody likes to come out and admit that luring rich white people with money is still the rule of the day despite so much “hope for change” and other cliches about diversity.
5. Local Cyclists – Personally, I think this is the stupidest special interest in all of KC but there’s no denying that these folks hold sway. Keep up with their antics at KCBike.info and marvel at the self-absorbed antics of people wearing “banana hammocks” on public streets.
All of this provides a valuable lesson; that even a few wingnuts in Kansas City can enjoy some semblance of power in this town if use the right terminology and wait for desperate politicos.