This is a special guest post from Senator Matt Connealy:
When I ran for Congress last year, I was up against much more than Jeff Fortenberry. Turns out that Fortenberry was backed by $20,000 of the dirty money that recently brought indictments against House Majority leader Tom DeLay.
In return, Fortenberry voted with DeLay 100% of the time in his first three months in Washington. But Delay didn't stop there; Lee Terry received almost $10,000 as well.
That's not what Nebraskans want. We deserve leadership that values fairness, freedom, and reform. The culture of corruption that surrounds Tom DeLay and his cronies couldn't be further from that.
The Democratic Party refuses to rely on Tom DeLay tactics and Tom DeLay money to win elections. Instead of special interests, individual Nebraskans--$20 and $50 at a time--can change the way politics works in our state. What will you give to make this change?
Americans deserve a government free of corruption and ethical misconduct DeLay's recent indictment is a step in the right direction, but more work lies ahead.
Special interests and radical extremists that funded Tom DeLay's political machine have set their tentacles throughout the Republican Party.
They dump piles of cash into races--it's just a business investment for them--but we can fight that with the message people want to hear. That's why it's so important to build our Party from the ground up.
That takes commitment--and part of that is money. Give what you can--no matter the size--to build our Party.
This culture of corruption will end with the rise of Democrats. Americans demand a government that works for people, not profit--one they can trust to tell the truth, not distort the facts to suit a hidden agenda.
By now, everyone is aware of the latest development exposing the Republican Party's culture of corruption. House Republican Leader Tom DeLay's indictment can be added to the growing list of crime and embarrassment consuming the GOP. Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist and Bush crony Karl Rove are also under investigation for criminal activity.
Congressmen Lee Terry and Jeff Fortenberry should return the $28,308 in contributions they received from DeLay's PAC. They should follow the lead of fellow House Republican Jeb Bradley (NH) who announced today that he will return the $15,000 he received from DeLay's PAC.
If Terry and Fortenberry continue to show support for DeLay (which they did this morning), they are dishonoring themselves and the seats they hold.
We issued a press release earlier today demanding Terry and Fortenberry return the dirty money. You can find it in the Communications Center
I also posted talking points linking Terry and Fortenberry to DeLay as well as detailing the history of DeLay's unethical behavior.
With the Republican culture of corruption saturating the headlines, this is the perfect time to reflect on our Democratic values and progressive ideas. Here are several great testimonials revealing some of the reasons we are proud to be Democrats:
I have been a NE Democrat since I worked in the NE Presidential Primary in 1968, for Robert Kennedy's campaign. In those past years, we had strong democrats in NE like Ed Zorinsky, George Buglewicz, Sam Howell, Jim Exon, etc. We had democrats in the mayor's office, county offices, and state offices. What I will fight for today is the right of all Americans, and all Nebraskans, to the labor law protection against 18 hour shifts with no overtime, and no regulation. I will fight for the separation of church and state so all citizens can have personal religion and secular government protection of thier personal rights. I will fight for the truth to be written and communicated to all the citizens, rather than "spin" of a group's agenda. I will fight for environmental prtections and economic equality and opportunity. And, I will teach my children to continue these fights as Democrats and as good American citizens. So that, when I am gone, their children will have the opportunities and freedoms that we enjoyed.
I believe that being a Nebraska Democrats is mainly about priorities. We prioritize peace and prosperity for EVERYONE, not just a privileged few.
We also believe in responsible budgeting and spending. For years, Democrats have been falsely accused of overspending but in the last few years the Bush administration has proven that Republicans can and will overspend without any regard to how the public feels about it. Their priorities are not in line with most Americans and I feel that it's our responsibility to see that elected officials represent our values in a better fashion.
My family has unique origins. My grandfather was an AFL leader in Boston in the 1950's. His efforts on behalf of firefighters led to the first pension for widows in Massachusetts. He instilled in his family the belief that if you sacrifice for your community, your community should take care of you.
I was raised believing that an active government that promoted shared sacrifice was true leadership by example. Clinton and Carter have used their time after their terms to make a difference for people in need, instead of taking corporate jobs.
I'm a Nebraska Democrat because I believe that our nation best exemplifies it's strength, not when it creates war, but when it shows compassion and commitment to people. Hurricane Katrina has brought us back to the reality that government can make a difference. We CAN reduce poverty, we can rebuild communities, we can give everyone basic health care.
It's sad that it takes a national disaster before the republicans are ready to commit to the public. I'm a Nebraska Democrat because I believe in the common man. I believe in a strong national defense and a sound foreign policy that works toward stabilizing peace.
I am a Nebraska Democrat because I truly believe that as a group we have the ability to build a fair, free and open society. I believe that the Democratic Party strives to be champions who fight to prevent ignorance and poverty. We celebrate non-conformity and diversity. Most importantly, we focus on the dignity and well-being of our citizens. The Democratic party works hard to disperse power. We care about our state and take part in our communities because we know that the decisions we participate in will affect our lives today, and the lives of generations in the future. We fight for the basic rights of equality, liberty and community.
I am a Nebraska Democrat because I believe in fulfilling our state motto "Equality before the Law".
Equality is an old-time American value which was central to the foundation of our country, but which has become unfashionable in the last 20 or 30 years.
The founding fathers started out the Declaration of Independence with the phrase "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal".
We have grown to see how equality must also include women and other races to be true equality, and I hope we may grow to learn that equality also means true equal opportunity, and equal access to the basic resources (medical, educational, vocational) necessary unlock the most human potential in our great society.
We all have our special gifts and unique differences, so we will never be, nor should we be absolutely equal.
Still, a vastly unequal society cannot be a truly free society.
That is one of the most important lessons of American history, and lately it seems like we are forgetting that there is no freedom without equality.
The Democratic party is still the place which does remember this important truth, and it is returning to its roots now to strengthen this message and this vision even more.
Last night, the NDP staff traveled to Omaha for the Nebraska Hispanic Democrats Open House.
Steve Achelpohl and Barry Rubin opened the evening and told the group about our DNC training in Scottsbluff this past weekend. You can read more about it here. They also talked about steps the NDP has been taking to involve the Spanish-speaking community.
Former Congressman John Cavanaugh addressed the crowd and explained for the past 35 years the Hispanic Community has been a cornerstone in Nebraska politics.
OPS Board Member Mark Martinez ended the program talking about his own experiences running for office and issues the school board has faced recently. He mentioned his strong need to find good Latino candidates and the need to involve the younger generations in politics.
Overall, it was a great event. If you would like information about joining this group, please email me.
In these daily posts, folks have been bearing their souls explaining why the Democratic Party is the only Party that truly resonates with their values and ideals. Here are today's batch of posts, including a special one from activist Monie Brownson. Her participation and support over the years has been steadfast.
I'm proud to be a Democrat, and I appreciate what the Democratic Party has done for millions of people in this country. My association with the Democratic Party has been formed by my early life experiences and influenced by my grandparents. Growing up in Big Sandy, Montana, with one grandfather who was a Democratic state representative and two other grandparents who emigrated from Canada, profoundly affected my interest in government, politics, and world affairs. Early on, it was deeply impressed upon me that it's vitally important to be a good citizen, to support your government, to learn about your government officials and to always vote.
Starting in the 1950's, I promoted the education of voters by posting campaign materials of all the political candidates in my six-lane bowling alley. My active participation in Democratic politics includes work with my late husband Jim Brownson on the campaigns of Senator Max Baucus and Governor Ted Schwinden, my experience as Democratic Committee Woman for eight terms, and my activity as a delegate for Gary Hart at the State Convention. My first political event in Nebraska came when I marched in a parade for Senator Bob Kerrey. One of my proudest moments was being elected as a voting delegate at large to the National Democratic Convention in Boston during July 2004, an experience that I shared with my granddaughter Kendra Brady.
Although I belong to several organizations, I give the Democrats more time when needed. And now is that time. This country was built on a middle class, but the Bush administration has worked to cause bitterness and divide the classes. If our country and government don't exist on a successful basis, nothing else will matter. Throughout history, the Democratic Party has made much of the progress for the common man. Democrats are positive and caring people, who have experienced many hardships. We know that life isn't always easy. But we persevere -- this is why I am proud to be a Democrat.
E. Ramona "Monie" Brownson
I am a democrat because I am my brother's keeper.
I am a Nebraska Democrat because I believe that being a Christian is not only talking the talk but it means that you are walking the walk because I believe every word of Matthew 25:32-46
I am a democrat because I believe what Jesus taught and that is to give with your heart expecting nothing in return.
I am a democrat because I believe it is moral to help the poor, sick, elderly and young. It is moral to be good stewards of the land and sea. It is moral to love my brother as I would love myself.
It is moral to be tolerant. I am a Nebraska Democrat because I know that it is right to show love patience and tolerance. That it is right to expect transparency and accountability in our elected officials.
I am a Democrat because being progressive isn't just a political choice but it is inherently who I am as a person. I am a Democrat because I know no other way to be.
I have always been a Democrat because this is the party that cares about what happens to people and focuses considers issues affecting families, children, the economy and jobs, health care, the environment and our quality of life in general, for us now and for the next generation. The Democratic party reaches out to all people, from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, and a wide range of persoal values. It is the party of inclusion, not exclusion. Individual Democrats may differ on individual issues but we know that our core values are centered in the community and the people who make up that community.
To say I was born Democrat is to over-simplify. I was born poor. My first generation Irish-American parents struggled to make a living on a farm in South Dakota through the depression and the drought years. They ended up owning the farm. In 1948, thanks to the REA, we got electricity. Years after I left home, they got an indoor toilet. I was baptized Catholic and raised Christian catholic by New Deal Democrats. The family discussions at every meal involved religion and politics. The two were intertwined in a belief system based on the beatitudes.
Part of maturing is to review again the tenets learned as a child, to sift and to refine. The process is enhanced by education, both formal and experiential. I find these many years later; I have not thrown the baby out with the water. The adages of my father have become my "truisms." "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer" (in Republican years). "It is preferred to perk up rather than to drip down" (democracy comes from the people for the common good, not imposed by the few to enhance themselves).
I believe in inclusion and compassion for all without regard for race, color gender, religion, national origin or sexual preference. I believe in creating opportunity for those who otherwise lack it. I believe in equal opportunity for all in regard to immigration, medical care, education, housing, employment and a just wage.
The Democrat party is the party who cares about people, fairness, justice and equality. My Irish roots are of a rebel clan and I will press on to my dying day for a system of fairness, social justice and peace. I choose to live in Nebraska and that makes me a Nebraska Democrat.
-Peg O'Dea Lippert
More and more stories and testimonials keep flowing in. Here are today's selections:
I am proud to be a Democrat in Nebraska because it represents a candle burning in a dark room. Here in Nebraska, there is a lot of resistence to progressivism and change, but the Democratic Party stands as the protectors of progress and the group that looks to change things for the better. That is why I am a Nebraska Democrat.
I am a Nebraska Democrat because I believe in the following principles:
Freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.
Freedom of speech and the right to speak out against your government if they are doing a poor job.
Freedom to protest in large groups, in public, if we so desire, because our Administration is incompetent and someone needs to speak out!
I believe that our military forces should be used ONLY when our soil is under attack, not to fight someone else's war, or to make my corporate friends rich with oil profits! Shame on our government for sending our men and women into harm's way for no apparent reason that can be based on fact.
I believe in public education. I myself am a teacher and I know how important this is for our future. If private school vouchers become common practice, we will see a new aristocracy born in this country, and only the poor and downtrodden will remain in public school, with little or no funding from our Federal government.
I believe in the sanctity of our environment. If we are not stewards of our land, who will take care of it for our grandchildren? Their grandchildren? Do we want our future generations growing up in a world that is devoid of natural beauty, exotic animals, diverse biomes, or clean air? We must protect our natural resources, or our own Earth will surely perish!
I believe in alternative forms of energy and relying less on oil and fossil fuels. I think it is our duty to reduce carbon emissions and create new job markets that will lead us into the future!
And finally, I believe in the United States of America, and every person's right to be free, regardless of their race, religion, sexual preference, social status, or gender! I believe we are a planet of individuals, who need to pay a whole lot more attention to each other, and build some bridges between our vast land of nations. Only cooperation and teamwork will take us into a better tomorrow!
I am a Democrat because I believe that God blesses makers of Peace.
I am a Democrat because I believe that lifting up the least among us elevates us all.
I believe we have the sacred duty, as citizens of this nation and this world, to be careful sewards of God's creation; and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I am Proud to be a Nebraska Democrat because our party stands up for working families each and everyday; our party strives to protect and improve public education from kindergarten through college; and our party finds commonsense solutions to help small businesses succeed. This is the party that believes government can and should be a positive force in people's lives.
Our State Central Committee meeting in Scottsbluff was topped off by another of our Grassroots Academy trainings.
This time, we were lucky enough to have two talented folks fly out from the DNC in Washington, DC to echo the messages of Governor Dean: Parag Mehta and Brad Martin.
After a brief welcome from our State Chair, the Scotts Bluff County Chair, and our Executive Director, Brad gave us an in-depth look at the DNC State Partnership Program and outlined ways that Nebraska is benefiting today.
Parag posed the kinds of questions we all need to be thinking about to help elect our Democrats: Where do we find volunteers? What kinds of things can volunteers do? How can we reach out to new people? Ian gave a tour of what the Nebraska Democratic Party can do to help elect candidates and strengthen our local parties. Because of that, two new people volunteered to chair in their communities!
Our training was a great success -- filled with people from all across the state.
Thanks again to everyone who made the trip to Scottsbluff this weekend! It was great to see all of you!
About 70 lucky Democrats had the pleasure of hearing Scott Kleeb make his fist official campaign speech this weekend in Scottsbluff at the Gathering on the Great Plains dinner. Kleeb was an overwhelming hit with everyone in the room. He spoke about why he is a Democrat and what changes need to be made both here in Nebraska and in the U.S. It was refreshing to hear what he thinks needs to be done to improve the lives of Nebraskans, and not just hear a list of what is wrong with the leadership in the state. Kleeb has great ideas that we can all get behind. Here is a short excerpt from the speech detailing some of the progress he would like to see in rural areas.
"How do you keep young people in places like Bassett or Beaver City? Jobs. And what do jobs need? All through our history jobs have followed connections and communications. In the 19th century it was railroads and the telegraph. Last century it was roads and telephones. This century, it's airports and the internet.
"This point came slamming home to me recently when a friend visited the ranch I work at south of Dunning. This friend has one of those high-powered jobs back east and he came out to help brand last spring. After two weeks here, just as he was getting ready to leave and go back to his office, he said to me: ‘You know, Scott, all I need to do my job is a cell phone, an internet connection and access to an airport a couple times a month
We now have almost 100 responses to our request to hear your stories and testimonies about why you are donkey instead of an elephant. Here is today's selection including a special post from Nance County Activist Kerry Case. Enjoy!
My name is Kerry Case, and I am the chair of the Nance County Democrats. Growing up, my family taught me how lucky we are to live in a country that celebrates freedom through the civil liberties we all enjoy, from the right to vote, to the right to worship or not worship as we choose, to the right to free speech. Some of my own ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, securing the freedoms that we enjoy today. Looking back, politics seemed very different when I was younger. It seemed that there was a greater degree of acceptance for a wide variety of views, and that diversity was considered strength rather than a weakness.
The Democratic Party has always shared more of the values that are important to me. We are the party of social justice, the party that has shown the most concern about creating equal opportunities and prosperity for all people. The Democratic Party has always been a party of the people, and we the people are better for the work Democrats have done.
We are a party of family values and understand the need for the best schools, affordable health care, jobs that pay a living wage, clean air and water, equality, and religious freedom. In the wake of hurricane Katrina, these ideals are even more important. We are living in troubling times, and many people continue to live in poverty. Americans continue to experience the erosion of some of our most precious ideals, held since the beginning of our nation. We see the erosion of rights that Americans have enjoyed, from women's rights to civil rights. Americans deserve better, and it is our responsibility to create a better future for ourselves, and for our children and grandchildren. That is why I am proud to be a Democrat.
I am a Nebraska Democrat because I am tired of being lied to by our Corporate Government. When I was a child, I remember having absolute faith in the United States Government. Now, every statement that is issued by a government official is subject to question. One tends to look for the "spin" in every response. Now, the Democrats are not perfect either. But traditionally the Democratic Party is honestly concerned with service to others, with caring for those less fortunate in our society, with equality in education, in the job market, in the health care of all Americans. We see too much corporate greed. We see too much outsizing of jobs that force working Americans out of the benefits that the rich among us take for granted. The Democrats are willing to give. It seems the Republicans are all too willing to take, especially from those who can least afford it. The "trickle-down" theory doesn't work; all it does is make the corporate world smug that they are "doing something".
I feel that the neo-conservatives that are currently in power are a threat to our country, and the Democrats are the only viable alternative.
I'm a Nebraska Democrat because I was raised with the basic midwestern values of kindness, generosity, hard work, and taking care of your neighbor. Nebraskans do these things to be good people, but also because we believe the common sense idea that what improves the fortune of our neighbors is also good for the rest of us. The Democratic Party embodies these values, while more conservative parties turn their back on these things that most Nebraskans treasure and are raised to believe. It is my wish that people who share our basic values (and I think this would include 90% of Nebraskans) will realize that it is the Democrats who are more likely to implement them.
By the grace of a loving God, and fortunate birth, I am a Nebraska Democrat. In the fifties, before massive media, we had big extended Families. Our farm, because we had the best chicken, beef, fresh garden stuff and the big front porch, was a great gathering place. Uncle Les cussed FDR, called him a red. Grandpa talked about meeting Buffalo Bill, and Hoover was "that short sighted bragger." The WW II Pacific vets loved Truman. Farmers spoke reverently of Bryan and Stevenson. Us kids mainly listened, and ate pie, cheating at rummy. Our time would come.
I am a Nebraska Democrat because I believe we owe it to our fellow citizens to help those in need and to provide for a future for all Nebraskans, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, beliefs, or socio-economic status. I hold a Ph.D. today because of the Great Society programs which helped my family in times of need during my childhood. I'm proud to say I am a product of Head Start, of WIC, of Pell Grants. And I feel it is my responsibility to make sure that we either have a society in which these programs are there to help others, like they did my family, or better yet, a society in which they are no longer needed. I teach and do research today not for the money, God knows I could make much more working in private enterprise, but because I want my daughters and their friends to have a future of equality, education, and promise, not the future I currently see of poverty, discontent, in-equality, and global strife. This is why I am a Nebraska Democrat.