Saturday, May 28, 2005

Neb. Dems Feel Love from National Party

by Kyle Michaelis
It's usually safest to take a "I'll believe it when I see it"-approach when dealing with political parties and promises of money, but Nebraska Democrats have a little bit more to believe in than they did a few days ago with the announcement that their national party is finally making an investment in them. The Omaha World-Herald reports:
Howard Dean came through for the Nebraska Democratic Party.

Although officials of the state party had predicted more, it will get at least $120,000 this year to help organize grass-roots groups in all of Nebraska's 93 counties.

The hope is to rejuvenate the state party and get local Democrats elected. It is part of the national party chairman's efforts to make Democrats competitive in all 50 states, including GOP-dominated ones such as Nebraska.

"We're ecstatic. This is the first time the national party has even done anything more than simply fly over our state," said Barry Rubin, executive director of the state party....

The money can be traced to the election of Dean as party chairman. The former Vermont governor, who lost his bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, argued that the party could not return to national power unless it was competitive in every state.

The Nebraska Democratic Party has had trouble in recent years winning statewide races. In the 1990s, Democrats held three of the state's top elected jobs - governor and the two U.S. Senate seats. Today, U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson is the lone Democrat holding a statewide office.

Dean promised that if he became chairman, more national dollars would flow to state parties. Nebraska is one of the first to get the money he promised.

It is a large amount compared with the $12,000 the state party got year. However, it is less than the $250,000 officials earlier predicted they might receive. Rubin said he expects the state party to get more money later this year.
It's a start - what more is there to say at this point? The first thing the Democratic Party has to do in this state is remind voters that they exist - that, yes, they have friends and neighbors who are Democrats and are proud to be so.

This idea that Nebraska is a "Red" state and that's that is not only mindless in the extreme but also the lowest form of self-fulfilling prophecy - that which confuses ignorance for virtue, as if jumping on the Republican bandwagon and drinking the Kool-Aid are rights of passage. Nevertheless, this negation of any possibility of progress has infected the political and intellectual climate of Nebraska and must be addressed with force. Money well-spent won't work any miracles but will help pave the way for the right candidates with the right message who will eventually restore balance and reawaken the quiet fires of enlightened truth and compassion that burn in the heart of this great state.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The first thing the Democratic Party has to do in this state is remind voters that they exist - that, yes, they have friends and neighbors who are Democrats and are proud to be so."

This will be difficult when the person at the top of the ballot does everyting he can to distance himself from the party and its values.

The party's top priority going into 2006 will be to re-elect Ben Nelson. You have to wonder how hard the party will really work to promote a Democratic message or recruit candidates who will stand for Democratic values when either of these will undermine Nelson's candidacy.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

Our technically non-partisan state legislature does provide some cover for Senator Nelson when more liberal candidates are on the ballot with him.

The more pertinent problem in my mind is the vacuum that exists if there are no legitimate Democratic candidates in Nebraska's other high-stakes elections. If people don't step up and make a true go at defeating the likes of Jon Bruning and Jeff Fortenberry, not to mention taking the open 3rd CD seat, we're going to see a re-enactment of the battle of the Alamo with Nelson standing in for Davy Crockett.

Nothing else would undermine Nelson like writing off every other race and putting all our eggs in his basket. We need candidates - legitimate candidates who aren't a liability - who only need to fit in the same tent as Nelson, not reflect his every vote.

Question: if Nelson's soal intention was to distance himself from the Democratic Party, wouldn't he have changed parties long ago? How is a candidate's avoiding the easy labels and generalizations that the media and special interests are dependent upon a bad thing?

One can disagree with Nelson on issues without constantly attacking his loyalty to Democratic principles. There is a wide spectrum in terms of method that doesn't necessarily pose a difference of values. Such, I believe, is the case with Sen. Nelson, whose tent I am proud to fall under despite the distance between us.


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