Updated Editor’s Note: This is the fourth article in a series about Nebraska politics, particularly as pertains to the Nebraska Republican Party and closely connected groups and their relationship to the “tea party movement”. Prior articles are linked here: 1, 2, 3. Articles following this will be added here: 5. “Governor Heineman Really Like Purple People Before They Were ‘Cool'”, 6. “NEGOP Tried to Capitalize on Grassroots Candidate Loss & CIR Reform Failure“, 7. “Nebraska is Essentially a One Party State”, 8. “NE Ruling Class and the Media – Lincoln Journal Star’s Don Walton”, 9. Political Influence in Nebraska: Where the Money Leads.
If the tea party movement in Nebraska was a living room, there would be an enormous elephant in it. We have mostly avoided acknowledging the elephant’s existence and the job of describing that elephant for you. Instead, we have focused on policies and general political philosophy. When we have “aimed our guns”, or more accurately for GiN’s history, described Nebraska Republicans as “Deserving of Darts”, it has been almost solely for the purposes of highlighting problems with their stance on particular issues or with their voting records in the Unicameral or in Congress. In short, we’ve exercised restraint (to the point, at times, of biting our tongues).
We call our previous publications restrained because we have directly experienced and observed a great deal more than we’ve ever mentioned publicly. We have come to the unavoidable conclusion that, unless we begin to confront the elephant, we question whether there is much hope of accomplishing anything of substance.
Perhaps we’ve been too concerned that readers will “shoot the messenger”. That often occurs when any criticism is levied about groups or individuals perceived to be one of the “good guys” or members of one’s own “team”. That’s true even when perceptions of goodness and team membership are based almost entirely on party affiliation and verbal statements not backed up by consistent behavior. “Nebraska nice”, ordinarily a laudable quality, can be a hindrance in the context of politics. Nebraskans eschew controversy to the extent that real problems are frequently ignored. A default desire for pleasant discourse and an avoidance of conflict only favors the status quo. So, if someone is critical, they are often perceived as not really a member of “the team”.
It has become default practice, as well, in the country as a whole, to label all matters political in terms of a Republican versus Democrat paradigm. But, it’s not for nothing that we have pointed over and over again to an essay written by Angelo M. Codevilla, “America’s Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution”, as the best available articulation of America’s current political landscape. It is not so much that Codevilla revealed new information to us, it is that he provided the best available tool for how to put America’s many, many problems into a perspective that finally makes sense. As he made clear, our problems should no longer be defined in terms of Republicans versus Democrats. There are two opposing groups in the American political landscape, but they are not the two major political parties.
One of them is the ruling class, and then there is everyone else. With a ruling class elite, there are clients, beneficiaries, supporters and wannabes. The everyone else Codevilla defines as “the country class”. Whatever we wish to call it, it is comprised of Americans who are not members of the ruling class, who have no desire whatsoever to become a part of it, who have no interest in supporting it, who do not wish to benefit from it, and who only wish to be left alone to quietly live their own lives, free of obstructions and barriers, succeeding or failing on their own merit.
For concerned Nebraskans, the first relevant questions quickly become, then:
- Who is a part of Nebraska’s ruling class?
- Who are its supporters?
- Who are the wannabes?
- Who are its clients?
- Who are its beneficiaries?
Applying the ruling class filter rather than the useless and worn out “R” or “D” construct helps very quickly to bring problems into focus.
The fact is the ruling-class-versus-everyone-else-paradigm may be more true in Nebraska than any other state in the nation for a very particular set of reasons, which include the state’s history, the existence of the only “non-partisan” Unicameral state legislature in the country, geographic factors[1. Geographic factors influencing Nebraska politics include the proximity of Nebraska’s two largest cities and their isolation from the rest. Another important factor is the location of the University of Nebraska in the capital city.], and the size of the population.
Nebraska, most assuredly, is a one party state. But contrary to popular belief and political discourse, that party is not conservative Republican. The Unicameral system, designed by Progressives, has succeeded in its chief goal to conglomerate power in the hands of a small number of ruling elite, which is necessarily itself Progressive.
We will not make our full case for that premise here, but hope to begin doing so in short order, largely based on an ongoing effort, mostly conducted by Linda.
Most of our comments will necessarily be directed at Republicans because:
- The original subject at hand was an email sent out by our local county’s Republican party, forwarded from AFP-NE, to its mailing list.
- The Republican Party, as traditionally and generally understood by voters, should be the political party whose general principles align with those stated by GiN and, therefore, we expect more from that party than from the other major party.
- GiN’s leadership team is comprised of long-standing members of the Republican Party, two of whom have held or who are holding offices within the party, consequently, we are most familiar with the workings of the Republican Party[2. However, we have no reason to believe that the Democratic Party in Nebraska operates in any more straightforward and country-class-friendly manner.].
- We ask you: Who disappoints you the most when they don’t live up to your expectations, someone who says he’s your friend (with whom you thought you shared common beliefs and values) or a complete stranger?
- All of Nebraska’s highest state offices are held by Republicans, the Nebraska Unicameral has a super-majority of Republicans (36 of 49), and all but one of Nebraska’s federal delegation members are Republican.
In short, in Nebraska, the ruling class has a party, and it’s the Republican Party. Moreover, the entire NEGOP governance, structure, and ongoing business is designed to maintain the status quo and benefit a limited cadre of insiders.
For our purposes here, we can only begin to tell more truths than we have allowed ourselves previously to publicize. We are, quite bluntly, tired of the nonsense. The speed at which one of the NEGOP’s hired guns chose to swoop in and wag his rhetorical finger at us constitutes the end of the line.
We would call such all-too familiar episodes “high school-like” if it weren’t for the fact that the same people engaging in such seemingly juvenile behavior determine who gets elected to public office in this state and, therefore, determine what laws are passed that affect the daily lives of all Nebraskans. That most definitely moves far beyond a high school clique and becomes a cartel or a syndicate.
When a disproportionately small circle of people and groups maintain monopolistic control over a significant segment of life and operate almost entirely in a way that is designed to maintain that control, it’s difficult to call it anything else.
A long string of experiences, observations, and the facts of electoral outcomes, voting records, and most importantly, legislative outcomes[3. An examination of facts reveal Nebraska has the highest overall taxation within a nine state region, it’s largest industry, government. To read some startling statistics about the state, see our materials for a Business and Labor Committee presentation, and “Rich States, Poor States, 4th Edition”(9) by Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, Jonathan Williams, page 76.] leads us to the unavoidable conclusion that the leadership of the Republican Party of Nebraska and most of the elected officials currently in office talk the talk of limited government, but they don’t walk the walk.
A lot of evidence exists to force the conclusion that the NEGOP and a number of the county parties, including the LCGOP and the Douglas County Republican Party (DCRP), spend the bulk of their time figuring out how to increase and maintain GOP power for a GOP elite.
Here are some reasons why and examples…
An examination of the document reveals a party which engages in Orwellian double-speak by stating limited government principles first but then embracing interventionist, nanny state government throughout. Even worse, some policy positions directly contradict the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution.
NEGOP Constitution and Rules
A North Carolina Republican Party parliamentarian who has years of experience in monitoring GOP state and county party constitutions and rules describes those of the NEGOP as “among the worst in the country” and the State Chair position as that of a “dictator”.
Rules changes in 2009 protect incumbents and increase obstacles challengers must overcome in primary elections. Instead of following the tradition of maintaining a level playing field for all Republican candidates in primary elections, mechanisms were created to allow the endorsement and financial support of incumbents in contested primaries under certain circumstances.
Elections and Candidates
Candidates are supported by turn, not by merit. Think Jon Bruning for Senate, 2012.
To become an insider candidate, one must be groomed, well-connected to other political insiders, or both in order to receive their turn and party support. A typical insider will begin as a legislative aide or a member of a campaign staff. From there, insiders move on to run for elective office on the local (city, county) level. The next step is statewide office and ultimately federal.
Few people are aware that four of the five men who currently represent Nebraska in Congress – incidentally, all of them Republicans – began their political careers in city government. All of them moved from there to the State Legislature or Governor’s Office, or both, and from there to Congress.
If a candidate is not an insider, they often receive no party support at all, despite the absence of any other GOP candidate in the race or the prospect of a big-government Democratic opponent being assured a win. We recall the LCGOP’s total MIA approach in the 2011 City of Lincoln election. Contrast this to zealous efforts in 2007 for Ken Svoboda for Mayor and in 2009 for Svoboda and Adam Hornung for City Council seats.
Candidates not on the inside may regret party support when it does arrive. GiN has received reports that NEGOP and its supporters have sent out mailings on behalf of GOP candidates without their consent or approval, some of which were considered undesirable by the candidates themselves.
State and LCGOP county conventions are choreographed showcases for politicians and candidates, not opportunities for party grassroots, or those outside a limited circle, to give input on party actions and policies.
The net effect is a GOP leadership so out of step with their membership, their designated top legislative priority for the 2011 session of the Unicameral was a bill to return to a winner take all system for awarding Nebraska’s Presidential electoral votes. Considering the many problems with Nebraska’s budget, pursuit of health care law implementation, collective bargaining statutes mess, and an array of other very important issues confronting the state, allocation of electors in the Electoral College was not on anyone else’s radar besides the NEGOP’s.
In a political climate where the party’s base was and is concerned about adherence to our Constitution and first principles, the party’s prioritization of the electoral college issue reveals apparent ignorance or complete disregard of either of those concerns. The party is, however, not oblivious to discontent within its ranks, particularly within the “tea party” contingent. It just chooses to give lip service to subjects it believes important to those malcontents while simultaneously bringing them under control through other means.
We will take up that issue in a later article in this series.
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Original “K Street Lobbyist” cartoon by WiredScout.com, as of publication the domain had expired
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