U.S. Senate race is a disappointment

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Despite having millions of dollars at their disposal, the U.S. Senate candidates from Nebraska disappointed citizens of this great state when they began the general election campaign with a series of attacks on each other.

It was like gossip mongering on a grand scale. One tattled on the other for trying to avoid property taxes. Then the other shot back, charging his opponent for paying less property taxes than he should.

Blown out of proportion? No question about it. That's not what we are looking for in a United States Senator. This state and nation has plenty of fault-finders. What we need instead are problem-solvers.

To the credit of the two candidates -- Democrat Ben Nelson and Republican Pete Ricketts -- they have eased off on negative campaigning since the first of their debates. Maybe, while talking about their attack ads, they realized how out of step they were with main stream Nebraskans.

Their immigration ads are an example of how it should be done. In those televised pitches, the candidates are not tearing down their opponent. Instead, they are expressing their positions as clearly as they can in a 60-second sound bite.

What really counts? What will make the difference with voters? We would like to believe it is the candidates' positions on the important issues, such as: "What do you think the U.S. should do to resolve the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan?" "What can the U.S. do to lessen the demand for foreign oil?" "How can the United States change tax policies to lessen the burden on average Americans?," and "What kind of farm bill is needed to strengthen the family farm?"

Also, Nebraskans need to be assured that the chosen candidate will stand strong for this state. The good thing about the U.S. Senate is that we have equal footing. With 50 states and 100 Senators, Nebraska -- theoretically -- has just as much clout as New York or California.

So, who we choose is important ... very important. Along with U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, the chosen candidate will be Nebraska's voice, not only in Washington, D.C., but in other states and foreign lands as well.

With millions at their disposal, we hope Nelson and Ricketts step it up a notch. They need to let voters know their strengths instead of dwelling on their opponent's weaknesses.

We know that's asking a lot in this politically-obsessed country. But, if campaigning is going to change for the better, what better time is there than now and what better place is there than Nebraska?

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