Beyond all the rhetoric, platforms, door-knockers, non-stop TV ads and mailers,
the cold, hard fact is elections are decided by voter turnout and the “middle.”
That’s especially true here in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District (CD-2),
comprised of Douglas County and the western two-thirds of Sarpy County.
CD-2 had the 2nd closest Congressional race in the country in 2016. Less than
2% of the vote, approximately 2,300 voters, would have swung it the other way.
That’s how things roll here. But that 2 percent is less than half of one percent of
adults eligible to vote.
• In the last presidential election, 2016, approximately 15.5 percent of eligible
adults weren’t even registered to vote. Over 40 percent of the eligible adults in
Douglas and Sarpy counties did NOT vote, based on U.S. Census and county
election commissioner data.
• That was up from the previous presidential election, 2012, when over 37
percent of eligible adults didn’t vote.
• In the 2014 mid-term election, the closest comparison to this year’s election,
almost 64 percent of eligible adults didn’t vote. That means if 36 percent shows
up to vote on Nov. 6, only 19 percent of eligible adult could decide our political
We are not unique. This story plays out across the country, which is where the
“middle” comes in.
The “middle” is the independents and “leans” either way, non-party activists,
neither hardcore viewers of MSNBC nor Fox News. Most people, attentions
splintered across devices and channels, concerns relentlessly focused on living
their lives. It’s not necessarily cultural backgrounds, ethnicity or class, though
those things and more have a big impact on political affiliations. Progressive and
conservative, diverse but separate, CD-2 is a body politic with an electoral vote
that could go either way. In 2008 it was the blue dot. In 2012 and 2016, we were
part of the red sea.
Hopefully, the middle is still about listening to one another and learning to share
and debate our ideas to find a better way. That’s Omaha. We say it’s the
Nebraska way. Unfortunately, we have had one-party rule for too long.
Most would say, and the data shows, that our system is unfair and tilted, even if
it’s the one of the best in the world. A lot of benefits are rightfully earned, but in
the grand scheme of things, the rich are getting a whole heck of a lot richer, the
poor stay poor and the middle still struggles. That’s not fair.
If you think we can do better, and you should, then please vote to elect Kara
Eastman to Congress, Jane Raybould for Senator and Bob Krist and Lynne Walz
for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively. Not only does it bring
balance to our two-party system, but all four candidates are brave enough and
qualified enough to make positive change and to create a fairer system that
benefits those who need it. All of them will have to work across the aisle, not only
in state government, but also in our federal delegation.
Don Bacon, Deb Fischer Pete Ricketts and Mike Foley aren’t bad people, but
their political party has shifted so far that it’s leaving far too many behind,
creating a governance that is not balanced. We live in the freest, most
prosperous, highest opportunity country in the world – with Omaha being one of
its top 100 communities no less. Why are we leaving so many behind, especially
compared to our peers in other industrialized countries?
Why are voices of consideration like U.S. Senator Ben Sasse and the late
statesman and U.S. Senator John McCain so ostracized? Congressman Don
Bacon deserves a lot of credit for going anywhere, answering any question, any
time, and running a constituent-focused office. But for a general who built his
career in a military tradition that upholds our highest values, why not show CD-2
some more Nebraskan independence while in Washington? As a member of the
Congressional Climate Caucus, why equivocate on man’s contribution to global
warming, as if the cause changes the fact we’re dumping a huge problem on
future generations of an entire planet, even if thousands of fading jobs not in our
state are doomed?
How can you say with a straight face that a tax cut mostly benefitting the wealthy
isn’t the leading driver of our spike in the public deficit, when tax revenues aren’t
keeping pace with economic growth? This is our chance to reduce the deficit
rather than mortgaging our future.
How is it honest to point to rising health insurance rates as a failure of
Obamacare when your party is dismantling and denying the funding mechanisms
it created to address this very same thing? Which leads us to the other important
vote in this election, approving Initiative 427, the Medicaid expansion. When
Nebraska turns down hundreds of millions of dollars for health care, already 90%
paid for with our taxes, who pays that bill? Our health insurance rates, of course.
It’s not rocket science.
Why our basic facts so difficult and instead so twisted?
Is it to pander to a small percentage that ALWAYS shows up to vote, from as low
as 19% (based on the last midterm election) to as high as 31% (last presidential
election) of eligible adults in our community? While votes do determine elections,
we need honest leadership, one that’s willing to buck a rabid base and act in a
more bipartisan fashion.
Why The Year of the Women
Eastman has proven to be that kind of leader. She worked with our Republican
Congressman and Union Pacific, one of our largest corporations, to finally fund
and manage a clean-up effort for the largest residential Superfund site in the
country, one that had plagued generations, especially those on the east side of
Omaha. That was a large and very complex effort for Omaha Healthy Kids
Alliance, one that has substantially addressed elevated lead blood levels in
Raybould has helped lead a family business grocery business, Super Saver and
Russ’s Markets, that has served the basic necessities of generations and is one
of the very first employee-owned businesses in Nebraska.
Krist is a retired Air Force veteran who flew more than 100 combat sorties and
was appointed by a Republican governor to a northwest Omaha district, where he
won reelection twice. He left the Republican party because of Governor Rickett’s
strong-arm tactics and uncompromising positions, inviting former educator and
state senator Walz to join him.
All of them have taken a stand against the corrupt influence of money in politics,
refusing corporate PAC money. Eastman has raised over 5 times the amount of
money from small individual contributions (under $200), $539,968 compared to
Bacon’s $109,958, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Bacon leads
Eastman almost 9 to 1 in PAC contributions, including the $1 million coming from
outside groups committed to Bacon, almost entirely Rep. Paul Ryan’s PAC and
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We know who paid for this election.
Stand up to the bad influence of money in politics and make some history by
electing the first woman to represent CD-2. Use your vote to support the ticket
with more women at the top.
To say it’s an interesting time in politics would be an understatement. While not
the tumult of the Civil Rights fight or Vietnam, not even close to the violence of
the Civil War and the fight to end slavery, this country drastically changed
direction after this recent presidential election.
Changing directions isn’t necessarily bad, but drastic during a time of steady
prosperity and peace, without character or goodwill, only leads to more division.
Cries for unity are disingenuous when they don’t meet in the middle. There’s a lot
to be said for populism, but the constant barrage of lies, insults and scandal
should be a clear sign to any true patriot that the messenger is too deeply flawed
to ultimately deliver.
While both political parties have their own entrenched interests and entitled
structures, it’s currently a false equivalence. When almost an entire political party
turns on standards they used to hold as gospel, ones we could respect as
Nebraskans, then as conservative Republican sage George Will put it, “to vote
against [Republican] cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s
honor while quarantining [the President].”
This is only The Reader’s 4th endorsement, but we strongly encourage you to
vote a straight Democratic ticket. It’s Omaha’s unique contribution to Nebraska
politics. It will force the Republicans to get a backbone for decency and keep
their word on things like fiscal responsibility, global leadership and due process.
And if you truly believe we’re in a dangerous time, then please consider what you
can do to get out the vote and have honest, level conversations with your
neighbors, especially the middle.
The arc of justice and opportunity is bending, ever so slowly, but only if we show
up to vote and collaborate will we move forward.