No More on Immigration or Broadband Internetby Kyle Michaelis
So, anyway, the self-described "gun lady" is no longer seeking re-election, stepping out of what seemed to be shaping up into a close race with Wilber Mayor Russ Karpisek in Nebraska's 32nd Legislative District. State Sen. Jeanne Combs is obviously content to go out on a high note after her amazing 'Conceal and Carry' victory that is surely the most important legislation of the last 4 decades!
Whether crying at "Conceal and Carry"s passage, warning that she needs a gun to keep away prostitutes around the state capitol, or posing with her .38 for an Omaha World-Herald photo shoot, that's quite the legacy to be leaving behind. Thanks a lot, Kentucky!
Meanwhile, I have to mourn the loss of what I thought would be one of the most salient themes for Democrats in the 2006 campaign - ending the so-called Republican 'Culture of Corruption.' Well, the Republicans are still worse, but House Democrats have gone so far out of their way to lose this issue that it's almost become a moot point. All the hookers at the Watergate, along with Tom DeLay's resignation as Duke Cunningham sits in prison, can hardly compete with fantastical tales of punching D.C. police officers, Patrick Kennedy crashing his car in a drugged-out stupor, and now William Jefferson's refrigerator full of $100 bills.
Good Lord, talk about clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Of course, here in Nebraska, part of me thinks this humbling realization might actually play to our Democratic candidates' benefit. Absent these slip-ups the temptation might have been too great to speak about cleaning up Washington D.C. in partisan terms (as I, myself, have done). But, the problem is no longer confined to the enormous sway of Tom DeLay's campaign cash over Nebraska's Freshman Congressman Jeff Fortenberry. It can't even be limited to talk of K Street Projects and defense contractors purchasing influence.
No, the entire corruption issue can no longer be about pointing fingers. It has to be about pushing for change. Which candidates will advocate real reform? What will those reforms be?
It's official - we have Bipartisan corruption in Washington D.C. By losing the partisan undertones of this issue, though, we might just gain a renewed legitimacy and respectability with Democrats proving their seriousness about the issue by holding their own representatives accountable and by advancing true reform more focused on curtailing the influence of lobbyists and the role of special interests' money in modern politics than on capitalizing for electoral gains.
The problem is no longer that Jeff Fortenberry is a Republican. It's that he's a politician so lost to the Washington D.C. game of securing campaign contributions that, in 16 short months in office, he's already completely lost sight of his constituents' best interests.
It's a better message, to be honest - one more reflective of reality and in line with Nebraska's political climate. Our voters' primary desire is for something more than a rubber stamp in their representation, be it Democratic or Republican. My only regret is that, in my sanctimoniousness, I didn't realize as much sooner.
I was on the bandwagon - imagining this was an issue on which Democrats nationwide could win back the peoples' trust. But, now I see it's more about winning back their faith in democracy itself. A goal like that does not begin or end with this election cycle, and it can't be limited to a single political party. It must be shared by all Americans. Democrats just have to do it better - actually living, running, and winning on the principles they espouse.