Monday, March 19, 2012

Who's Really Afraid Of The Coming Storm?

While the weather the past week has been unusually and ridiculously warm, the week ahead appears to be filled with storms and rain for much of the United States. In a similar way, the political storm that's been brewing in the GOP for most of the last quarter century appears to be breaking open and raining political cats and dogs all over the 2012 hopes of the GOP.

The fact is, we've been telling you for most of the last four years that there would come a day when the moderate Republicans would have to fight the insane, extremist faction of the GOP for control of their party. So it would be easy for us to simply laugh and point at the Republican Party, say "We told you so," and walk away.

That's not who we are, though. So we're going to help you see today which major political party has really put aside some of its more extreme tendencies for the good of the people - and which side is still putting party before country.

In Nebraska, for example, it's been interesting watching how each major political party has operated with respect to the soon-to-be open U.S. Senate Seat currently held by Sen. Ben Nelson.

For the Democratic side, even though former NU Regent Chuck Hassebrook originally was running for the Democratic nomination, after some careful consideration, he decided to drop out and support former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey. Instead of raining massive amounts of money on a pointless primary campaign against Kerrey, Hassebrook did the sensible, logical, and respectable thing, and did what was best for both himself and Nebraskans. After all, Hassebrook himself acknowledged that Kerrey holds most of the same core beliefs, to "make the tough choices for hard-working families, the poor and those who are struggling to hold their grip on the middle class or trying to claw their way into the middle class."

That's exactly the opposite of what Nebraska Republicans are doing.

Even the fairly conservative Omaha World-Herald openly admits - there aren't many significant differences between the three major candidates on the Republican side. Yet the three GOP candidates - who, like the Democrats, agree on most of their core beliefs - have all been trying to either openly or quietly undercut their primary competition in very questionable ways.

The three Republicans match up with each other in many ways. Current Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning is young, has made many mistakes, and is politically unseasoned. However, Bruning has a significant history in Nebraska politics, and has even made a national name for himself a few times - though not always in a good way. Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg has plenty of political experience, even running a close race with Ben Nelson in 2000. But Stenberg has run for U.S. Senate three times, and has lost all three races. State Senator Deb Fischer has plenty of state experience, and solid connections with many in  Nebraska's third congressional district. Bruning has a dominant lead in both direct and indirect campaign finance support, however - much of that money coming from sources outside Nebraska.

For Republicans like Mark Fahelson, Nebraska state GOP Chair, this political season is the perfect storm for Republicans. Fahelson is the one currently holding the lightning rod for the Nebraska Republican Party, in the middle of this political storm. If the state fails to elect a Republican for virtually any position - but especially a high-profile position like U.S. Senate - the extremist Republicans will want someone to pay for losing a seat they believe belongs to them. Fahelson will be the one they'll likely zap.

Much like the national Democratic and Republican presidential races, while the Democrats may not always agree with each other on every topic, it's quite obvious most Democrats are willing to put the needs of the American people before their own personal political goals - which continues to give them more confidence. On the Republican side, however, every candidate is out for themselves in the hopes of controlling a party being torn apart in this political storm.

Meanwhile, candidates like Bob Kerrey and Barack Obama just keep steadily working towards the nomination of their political party, ducking the rain of the falling GOP candidates.

There's a lesson in this for the GOP, on virtually every level this year. We have extreme doubts, however, that the egos of their candidates will allow them to weather this storm very easily.

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