A Representative Republic, not a Monarchy
Just as Washington D.C. has its political “royalty” – what Donald Trump calls “the swamp” – so too the Nebraska GOP. We have our sect of political elite who think themselves “nobility.” For them, Lincoln-Omaha is the kingdom of “just us” – the Republican aristocracy’s inner sanctum. All that exists beyond this urban bubble encompasses what Nebraska sophisticates condescendingly call “the rural counties;” to wit: the badlands of uncultured rubes. The agrarian proletariat is best neither seen nor heard – except during election cycles, when the Lincoln nobility shouts “jump!” We need only reply “how high?” Our political betters expect that we fill their campaign coffers with hard-earned dollars, and vote for the candidates they choose. On that rare occasion when our party elites contaminate their royal slippers with rural soil, they near exclusively troll the I-80 corridor, less they bust the budget to bother with all 80 counties that make up CD-3. Rural Republicans need only obediently defer to our urban monarchy’s self-informed superior judgment. We rubes have but one duty: maintain the swamp – er, I mean reliably re-coronate Republican “royalty.”
Like the emperors of ancient Rome, deciding the fate of gladiators, these individuals give the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to any novice who dares enter their arena. The royal families of Nebraska’s political monarchy hold the power to make or break political careers … Those with the gold make the rules – but no more. Last Saturday, the high and mighty of Nebraska’s political pedigree – Ricketts, Orr, Heineman, Johannes, et al – received a Midwestern lesson in humility.
On July 9, 2022, the political status quo was abruptly turned on its head during the NE GOP State Convention. Being an alternate delegate, I attended the proceedings in Kearney; and, as I watched the events unfold, the play ‘Les Misérables’ came to mind – “Do You Hear the People Sing?” The new reality rocked Nebraska’s political landscape. Governor Ricketts, though visibly surprised by the successful vote to remove Chairman Dan Welch, was likely informed that the game was afoot. Perhaps for the first time, the ears of Pete Ricketts finally heard the “people sing.” However, the retort was not a polite “No thank you, sir;” but rather a resounding “NO!” that echoed throughout the Younes Convention Center. For his part, Chairman Welch kept his poise, even while his privileged party officers jumped ship – Welch maintained his dignity, while the others showed their true colors.
Nebraska’s entrenched political bulwark of wealthy interconnected families, whose progeny oozes elitism as blue-nosed as any socialite of the Northern Virginia gentry, were made to see what representative democracy is about – and it’s not about forever preserving a supposed untouchable Nebraskan brand of political “nobility.”
Why this revolt? Since 2014, when Ricketts won the governorship – royal scepter in one hand, inherited wealth in the other – Republican residents of Nebraska’s “badlands” have learned ad nauseam that the “nobles” do not play by the Marquis of Queensbury Rules. Their behavior has more resembled Chicago’s machine politics: the Nebraska GOP constitution was disregarded; endorsement policy was circumvented to support the “chosen” and trash the “undesirable;” budget transparency rules were ignored, and; required committees were not created.
With the opportunity of the 2022 Convention, Lancaster County’s contingent of delegates brought sauce for the goose: they showed up in force, armed with Robert’s Rules of Order and a plan of action. Moreover, NE GOP leadership discovered too late that their habitual negligence in giving fair representation to rural counties had created a political powder keg. Far worse, newly-appointed Executive Director Taylor Gage, and several other political hacks, agitated fury across the state when they conspired to nullify the lawful elections of party officers and state delegates in several county conventions. Saturday, the proverbial fuse – which the NE GOP under Pete Ricketts’ leadership had repeatedly tempted with a lit match – ignited, and political dynamite blew up in their faces. Had Ricketts & Co. not meddled in county elections, the vote to remove Welch might have failed.
Saturday’s “storming of the Bastille” was strategized and executed under the direction of Lancaster County’s GOP Chairman, Eric Underwood – now the new State Chairman. Underwood and his Lancaster revolutionaries have until January 2023 to prove their metal, else their nascent careers will likely end beneath the blade of the political guillotine they have created. Live by the sword, die by the sword – such is the way of revolutions.
We in CD-3 may be the unsophisticated rubes of the “badlands,” but we know the difference between a truly representative republic and a monarchy. We accept responsibility to fully participate in the former; we reject and are determined to defeat the latter. Chairman Underwood and his Lancaster rebels best keep that point in mind, as they are now tasked with restoring order amidst the political chaos their July 9th revolution let loose.
Hitchcock County Republican Party