Monday, January 29, 2007

Nebraska's Progressive Blogosphere On the Rise

by Kyle Michaelis
In the last month, I've been very heartened to see the emergence of a number of bold new voices in Nebraska's online community. For starters, the UNO College Democrats have re-established their website as one of the best in the state with a flurry of activity. At the same time, the Nebraska Democratic Party's "Blog for Nebraska" has found renewed purpose not only taking the lead on the issues important to voters but also using its voice to build an organization about which we can all be proud.

Even more exciting than either of these more institutional developments, though, has been the arrival of two independent blogs - different in purpose but similar in focus - that have the potential to really contribute something special to those interested in Nebraska political debate and discussion. These websites are Paging Power and Smith Watch, both to which I offer my highest possible recommendations for their short but so-far superior efforts.

Paging Power has offered a wealth of political commentary since kicking-off in December, but its real strength and appeal lies in the extensive coverage it's provided of the Nebraska legislature. In particular, I suspect readers would take some enjoyment from Paging Power's many video offerings of oftentimes unreported but no less important (sometimes extremely amusing) highlights from the floor of the State Senate.

Right off the bat, I'd suggest everyone watch or listen to at least the first ten minutes of State Sen. Ernie Chambers' hour-long scolding of the legislature for its improper and dishonest handling of the state's tax policy, especially with LB344's proposed extension of the do-nothing Tax Policy Reform Commission. Sure, Chambers falls back on many of his familiar rants, but that doesn't change the fact that Nebraska would be well-served by every citizen in the state listening to what he has to say (at least, in this instance).

Smith Watch, on the other hand, is an exciting local example of what was a national trend in 2006 towards distict-specific, online watchdogs dedicated to holding a particular represenative accountable for his votes and for his record. Here, the Congressman in question is none other than the Nebraska Third's freshman Republican, Adrian Smith.

Smith had an undistinguished-to-embarrassing career as a State Senator. If he's going to do any better as a Congressman - or if the voters are going to have the knowledge and the ammunition to rid themselves of him in the next election - a site such as Smith Watch could serve an essential function and prove an incredible resource. Already, I'm impressed by the author's letter to Adrian Smith asking Smith to explain his thus-far insulting votes and pointing-out the continued influence the controversial Club for Growth holds over his every position. I also commend Smith Watch for its challenge to readers and voters of the Third District, reminding them of the role we must all play as citizens to make our democracy what it can and should be.

I am grateful for all the work that has been done by both of these sites. It's my sincerest hope that they will be able to maintain the energy and momentum they've already built - no doubt benefitting our entire state in the process. The New Nebraska Network simply can not devote the time and focus to the legislature and to Adrian Smith that both, respectively, deserve. I trust readers will enjoy the work done by Paging Power and by Smith Watch, generously offering them the active readership and encouragement it sometimes takes to feel our continued efforts are truly worthwhile.

The New Nebraska Network won't be around forever. This state needs more dynamic voices - more discussion - more challenges to the status quo. That requires helping one another out and acknowledging each other's work. If Nebraska's progressive community is to ever be anything more than a collection of disparate voices in the wilderness, it will take real effort at building that community into something worthy of the interests and ideas it claims to represent.

Consider myself and the New Nebraska Network dedicated to this cause - this building of something greater - for as long as we are able. We don't all have to see eye-to-eye on every issue. But, together, we will do a lot of good for this state we love - standing side-by-side, looking to and fighting for a better future.

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Blogger Lisa Hannah said...

Thanks, Kyle!

Blogger John said...

Here's an article about Smith Watch. Keep up the good work.


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