Where’s Ben?

Today marks the first of a series of university forums hosted for Nebraska’s Senate race. Tonight, three out of the four candidates will join University of Nebraska students in Lincoln for a meet and greet where students and the public are encouraged to learn more about the men they will be voting for on November 4th. Following the meet and greet, senatorial candidates Dave Domina, Jim Jenkins, and Todd Watson will hold a forum to answer questions and speak candidly on their stances and why you should vote for them as Nebraska’s next senator.

Unfortunately, one candidate is missing. This candidate has been missing from many forums in the past including Hastings and Kearney and will continue to be missing at forums in the future at venues such as Weslyn University, UNK, the League of Women Voters, McCook, as well as possible others who not chosen a date yet. This MIA candidate is the Republican contender, Ben Sasse, and while I have my own theories, I want to know why he avoids facing the electorate population who will vote for him this coming November 4th.

It is the epitome of arrogance to refuse forums and debates in the month leading up to the election. Ben Sasse believe that all he needs is that “R” beside his name to slide securely into the Senate. Easy, breezy, no questions asked, no stances challenged. Is this really the kind of person we want representing our state? A person who won’t even come out to meet and speak with the people he pledges to represent?

Nebraskans must reject this duck and hide campaign strategy. If Ben Sasse is the right candidate for the job, then he should be confident to join the other candidates on the stage and present why he should be your next Nebraska Senator. It seems to me that if you are vying for a job which demands for you to be comfortable in the spotlight and willing to speak in front of the millions of people who you serve, that you would happily face the people who will hopefully be sending you to Washington.

Ben Sasse does not believe that Nebraskans will ever demand for him to step from behind the media machine which scripts his responses and prepares his debate defense. He dislikes speaking off the cuff and will do anything to avoid a candid informal question/answer session. Why is this? Surely, if you truly believe that you have what it takes to be a United States Senator you wouldn’t mind fielding a few questions from students in their 20’s.

I want to hear what a candidate really has to say. I want to hear the unscripted answers. I want the truth. Is that so much to ask from the leaders of our country?

Stick to the script. Tell people what they want to hear. Duck and hide. This has become the status quo of our politicians’ campaign strategies and it is no different here in Nebraska if we let someone who won’t even speak to us, the voters, win this election.

Nebraskans should be outraged that one of their candidates refuses to answer questions candidly and unscripted in venues across our state, to defend his stances, and to prove that he truly is the right person for the job. If you let Ben Sasse win this election without a challenge, without even a demand to speak to the people, then the wool has been pulled over your eyes, Nebraska.

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Debunking 3 Myths about the Independent Candidate

This campaign has opened my eyes to the many and varied opinions that voters across Nebraska think about when they are deciding on their votes. Since I am working on an Independent candidate’s campaign, I have been exposed to the hesitation that many voters show when faced with the alternative option of voting for an independent candidate.

Here are three opinions that regularly surface in comments and conversation on independent candidates, so I thought I’d start some discussion on why these three widely held opinions are “myths” that should be reconsidered before you throw out the decision to vote for independent candidates, whether they are running in Nebraska, Kansas, or elsewhere.

  1. Independent candidates have strong positions on every major issue. Their decision to come to a consensus with people who don’t hold their same positions doesn’t make them “pushovers”.

I am starting to grow weary of this particular comment and conversation point, usually made by people who have shown themselves to be champions of the highly partisan political system we find our country encumbered with today. I have heard people call independent candidates “pushovers”, “wishy-washy”, and “weak”, just to name a few of the labels I’ve recently heard. One gentlemen went so far as to say, “I believe that so called independents and moderates stand for nothing. They have no principles and no values and so are able to compromise on everything. If you don’t have a fundamental position on how to fix things, then you are the problem.”

First of all I can tell you that Jim Jenkins, the independent candidate in Nebraska, has some of the strongest principles and values that I have ever seen in a person. Ask anyone who personally knows him. To people who hold the particular view that compromising makes an independent candidate ineffective: Imagine your husband or wife, your boyfriend or girlfriend, who refused to compromise on anything. You would probably get divorced or break up. Imagine a friendship without a little give and take from either person. You wouldn’t have very many friends. What about children forced to follow a strict set of rules by overbearing parents? I can assure you that they are sneaking out. What do you think Monday morning meetings are about at work? So everyone can be on the same page.

Every successful project, agenda, or relationship is a result of open communication and the ability to come to a consensus that everyone can live with.  This is how things go in our personal and business lives, why shouldn’t it also work for our political system?

Agreeing to work together, despite our different opinions about what is best for our country should not equate to “a lack of principles”. In fact, I believe it is just the opposite. The candidate who is truly willing to work with the other side and come to a consensus through thoughtful and logical debate– that is where true courage is found. It takes more guts to do this than a candidate who votes along the same party lines because he is too scared to do anything else.

Jim Jenkins will tell you exactly how he stands on most major issues and his ideas on how to fix those issues. Quite the contrary to having no “fundamental position on how to fix things”, he is humble enough to realize that he does not have all the right answers, nor does any party, but that the “two heads are better than one” mentality should apply to the biggest issues that we face in this country. Jim Jenkins is running as an independent because he is educated and thoughtful about every issue, but even more importantly, he boldly believes that it is certainly not “his way or the highway”.

  1. Being Independent does not necessarily mean you want to create a third party. In fact, the party system is exactly where these candidates find fault.

As an independent candidate, Jim is not recommending that we create another party. The reason he is running is because of his disagreement with the party system. We know he’s not the only one who disagrees with the system. 81% of Nebraska Republicans and 68% of Nebraska Democrats disapprove of the U.S. Senate. If this statistic is accurate, who are these voters now supporting?

Regardless of your current or previous party affiliation, we must work together as responsible citizens of the United States to re-build a political system in serious need of rehabilitation. It’s like expecting your sink to stop leaking without going underneath to replace the pipes. You might be able to slap a little putty on it, but it will start to leak again after a while. We need to first fix the political system that currently caters to partisan politics and self-interested officials before we can expect solutions.

But how do we do that? Instead of aligning yourself with a party, educate yourself on the candidate. Instead of Republicans and Democrats, let’s choose People to represent us. I realize that this will take more effort on the part of the voters. You will be required to research each of the candidates, instead of following the party you’ve always followed like a herd of sheep. Sheep can’t fix a system, but the citizens of America can.

The notion that people must run under a party label to be considered a viable candidate is a mentality that American voters should seriously reconsider. As Congress becomes more partisan, voters become more centrist. People are starting to understand that it won’t matter which party they side with if each party is more concerned with keeping in power than passing legislation that progresses our nation.

  1. Independents are not Democrats or Republicans in disguise.

People are so skeptical and distrustful of the system that they believe there is no possible way someone might actually be trying to run as a true independent and not for one of the parties.

I ask these skeptics this: Why would someone who wants to run for office turn down millions of dollars and thousands of supporting party members, just to run in disguise? Not only do independent candidates not have the donor and volunteer support that party candidates do, they are forced to go out and collect thousands of signatures just to get on the ballot and are kept from running in primary elections.

Believe me, after working on the hodge-podge endeavor known as an independent campaign, the costs of running as an independent candidate far outweigh any benefits you might get for trying to disguise a “secret party agenda”.

Jim is so adamant about his Nebraska platform (running for the people, not the party) that he has even refused to caucus with either party. If there was a time to come forward with a secret party agenda, caucusing with that party would be the time. Even well-known and respected politicians like Independent Maine Senator Angus King caucused with the Democratic Party.

Finally, running as an Independent means that the candidate has the majority voter mentality working against him. Time and time again people have shared their concerns that if they vote for Jim, their vote will not really count. If they vote for Jim, this will take a vote away from the election that truly matters.

We have such a deeply entrenched system of party politics, even the centrist voters are scared to break away. Don’t let our corrupt system strangle the liberties you have as an American voter. Think twice about the responsibility you have to the future of this nation, and be the vote that makes a change.

Jim Jenkins for Senate signs and jingles

If you’ve ever seen one of the old Burma Shave ads, take a look at the video Mary Ridder put together that mimics the rhymes and jingles of those classic vintage ads. Instead of buying Burma Shave Cream though, we want you to vote Jim Jenkins for U.S. Senate! Check out the video below for Jim Jenkins for Senate signs and jingles.

http://youtu.be/me8dhmcIFYs

Jim Jenkins: The Bridge Builder

My Peace Corps friend and group mate Jubal Faircloth is a very talented comics artist. He is still serving in Senegal, West Africa and has agreed to become the campaign cartoon artist. Thanks Jubal! If you want to see more of his talent you can check out his website at http://www.thefifthcircle.com.
The political parties are not working together which is why their approval rating is at an all time low. Elect Jim Jenkins as your next representative for Nebraska and see him work to build bridges between these warring tribes, and more importantly serve the people, not the party. *Artist: Jubal Faircloth

**My Peace Corps friend and group mate Jubal Faircloth is a very talented comics artist. He is still serving in Senegal, West Africa and has agreed to become the campaign cartoon artist. Thanks Jubal! If you want to see more of his talent you can check out his website at http://www.thefifthcircle.com.

The Problem is Us

Hey, everyone! Not sure if you heard the news, but Jim Jenkins was recently endorsed by The New York Times! The most influential and widely read newspaper in the United States has decided that this rancher and businessman from Nebraska has a message for all Americans– Serve the people, not the party.

Wait a second, you might be saying, Wasn’t it the… Yes, alright you caught me. It wasn’t The New York Times that endorsed Dad, but the York News -Times, one of the twelve daily newspapers we have here in the state of Nebraska. While it would have been awesome to be endorsed by The New York Times, I am just as excited to have the York News-Times endorse us, and I want to thank them for having the courage to stand up to the party system and to back a candidate “who will vote for the people, not the party.” I also want to congratulate them on a very well written article. Sometimes candidates and media get caught up in the unintelligible political jargon that can turn off any voter, but this article simply outlines why Jim Jenkins should be a candidate who all Nebraskans can and should get behind. If you haven’t read the article, you can find it here.

My favorite point that the York News-Times makes is this: “… Jim has a problem. The problem is us. After decades of being funneled into two separate pools of voters, Republican or Democrat, we have been conditioned to believe these are our only two options. This is exactly what the two major parties want, evident by their very restrictive primary process, which nearly eliminates prospects for independent candidates to gain a seat at the election table.”

While I have been working on the campaign over the last couple of months, I have seen so much hope and so many sensible good people in Nebraska. I have seen a population of people who are fed up with the system and willing to try something new. On the other hand, I have also become greatly frustrated because people expect change, demand it even, but they are not willing to go out and make the change happen. Citizens of America have the right to vote because it is also our right to have a say in how our country is run and who is running it. What I have found most remarkable is the fact that all of us are willing to complain about the system and how it is ruining our lives and our country, but many have not even registered to vote. If people are so disgusted with the political system, then why is there such an apparent state of voter apathy?

To quote Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” All it takes is your participation. It requires you to vote, and perhaps this is asking a little bit more, but it requires you to educate yourself on the candidate you are voting on. Until our country changes our apathetic view towards voting we will continue to struggle under a stagnant Congress and we will slowly watch our country go down the drain. By then it will be too late.

Luckily, it’s up to you. It’s not too late today. If you are a Nebraskan, you have the ability to be part of an exciting and innovative change in our country. As Nebraskans, we could be part of a movement that strays away from the party-paid-for seat and votes for the man who sits in it instead. We could be a state that leads a revolutionary reform of how politics are done in this country and save our future from the destructive path it’s currently on. In order to do this though, you have to vote Jim Jenkins.

Thoughts on the Senatorial Debate

Although I was not able to attend the Senatorial debate hosted by KETV in North Platte this last Sunday, I did sit down to watch it later. For those of you who didn’t catch it, here are a couple of things I feel are worth mentioning on the debate.

First of all, it merits recognition to point out how difficult it must be to get up on stage in front of everyone in the auditorium and everyone watching on live television and give an articulate and poised answer to questions which are far from black and white. For that I want to congratulate and thank all of the candidates for their participation and candor. It’s easy for the audience members to criticize every fine point the candidate makes, but we must remember that we’re not the ones sweating up there on the stage.

I was impressed by the delivery of most answers by all of the candidates, and will particularly give credit to Dave Domina for being an incredibly articulate and well-spoken candidate. Sound delivery of your message is just one of the essential components of being a good political candidate, and Dad is certainly learning how to be one of those through trial and error and going up against candidates who are polished and poised.

While Dad might not be the most “polished” of the candidates when it comes to delivery, I would urge people to look past the stage presence of the candidates and at their actual messages. When it comes to the message, I believe that Dad speaks most soundly to the majority of voters in America and in Nebraska. Dad says in his closing statement, “We have to decide as a nation if we are going to incentivize partisanship. If we are going to incentivize it through big money… and by electing the most partisan candidates.”

I would also like to draw attention to how much better Dad has gotten at giving articulate, sound responses to debate questions over the course of this campaign. His answers show that while he runs primarily on the platform of a bridge-builder, his campaign and values are made up of well-researched and thoughtfully constructed stances on each and every issue.

Something else that was brought up and is worth mentioning is that Dad was reprimanded by the moderator for using Ben Sasse’s name when he emphasized the difference between the Republican candidate’s campaign and his own. Domina also criticized Sasse, but did it by tactfully leaving out his name.

We criticize our politicians for not being straightforward, but then we also criticize them for calling out the other candidates. I would caution viewers to make a distinction between debate and personal attack. I see no reason why candidates running for the same Senate spot should not be able to stress to voters how one’s own particular campaign is different from another candidates. Certainly, the focus of the answer should be to educate voters on one’s own stance on a position, and discrepancies in another candidate’s campaign should be valid as supplemental material.

This is a debate, not a candy land game, and I think that all candidates have the right to highlight their differences, particularly when some candidates are intent on glossing over certain aspects of their own campaigns. While Dad might well indeed have delivered less hostile criticism, his points were on key and cannot be qualified as personal attacks.

In the end this is not about Ben Sasse, the man. This is about a revolution against the political system that has caused our Congress to become defunct. Sasse happens to represent the system we find fault with. Here in Nebraska, it is the face of the Republican Party (Sasse) who must take the heat since a huge majority of the population are Republican voters. If Dad was running in a highly Democratic state, it would be the opposite and I believe that he would take in after the Democratic candidate just as resolutely.

It is the system we mean to oppose– not the man, but unfortunately with big outside money, Washington support, and a contributors’ network built on party affiliation alone and a GOP in-state powerhouse, it is Sasse who is targeted in this election for the broken system he represents. In the debate, Sasse mentioned that he was supported by 92 out of 93 counties in Nebraska. Voters, in all honesty, do you believe this is because of who he is and what he represents as a man or as a “dad” as he likes to claim, or because of the party he represents? I beg that Nebraskans recognize this important distinction.

A daughter's perspective on her dad who dared.