Monday, January 28, 2013

Do Look Now

Barring another international emergency, tragedy, or mass civil unrest, much of the American national media chatter today will likely surround two kinds of stories.

One will likely be the sudden shift by Republicans to join Democrats in supporting comprehensive immigration reform. The other will surround two interviews with President Obama - one in The New Republic magazine, and the other, Obama's 60 Minutes interview alongside outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

While each of these news items deserve at least some attention, as we warned you in our first edition this year, the real political action to watch has moved to the state and local level.

That fact was evident last week, when media organizations including this one pointed out the Republican Party's underhanded attempts at rigging the vote in Virginia. After the initial Virginia vote-rigging story came to light, other attempts by the Republican Party to try to do the same in states like Florida and Michigan popped up too.

In Nebraska, Republicans appear to be trying to play a bait-and-switch game, at both the state and local levels, that's falling hard on students they claim to care about.

You may recall that earlier this month, Nebraska Republican Governor Dave Heineman pushed all six of Nebraska's University and State College campuses to implement a two-year tuition freeze. Nominally, the freeze was promoted by officials of both parties as a way to help lessen the burden on students.

That rhetoric shows itself to be completely hollow, however, in light of the Nebraska Board of Regents passing an increase for room and board for all students living in the residence halls at each of the six Nebraska state college campuses. While the percentages differ from school to school, the rate increases effectively add between four-hundred and a thousand dollars to the financial burden of those same students that Nebraska politicians claimed they cared about.

The hypocrisy doesn't stop at the state level, though.

Nebraska Republican state Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh also appears to be trying to forcibly downsize the Omaha Public School's board, from the state legislature, taking the board from twelve to nine members and in the process 'conveniently' wiping out the influence of Democratic members of the board.

If the game Republican partisans at all levels are playing hasn't yet become clear to you, we hope this bit of light helps.

Since they can't win at the ballot box with their outdated ideologies, extremist Republican political leaders at all levels are now trying to rig the system, even while they distract the national media by appearing to finally move toward bipartisanship on ideas like comprehensive immigration reform.

Even well-known conservative pundits who've thought about these ideas say Republican leaders who keep pushing ideas like vote-rigging will only end up hurting themselves in the end.

No matter how much cheating those GOP extremists do, it won't change the facts on the ground. The ideas President Obama focused on in his inaugural address aren't liberal - they're progressively centrist. They're ideas that both Republican and Democratic voters mostly agree on.

As soon as Americans notice that Republican "leaders" are attempting to rig systems against those centrist ideas - like they did when their intents were brought to light in Virginia and Florida - Republican "leaders" backpedal away from their cheating ideas so fast their heads are likely spinning round in circles.

There is, after all, a reason it says on Nebraska's state capitol building, "The salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen."

It would help everyone if more of our colleagues in the media also kept their eyes on where the action is really happening.

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