When I heard on TV last night that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 77 years old today, I thought "wow, he would have been that young?" I had never internalized how young King was when he died. 39. My mind reels with all the possibilities, all the additional opportunities he could have created had he not been assassinated.
How far do you think American has come since Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream of racial equality? That was the question an AP-Ipsos poll asked respondents last week. The results showed the over all, 75% thought significant progress has been made towards his dream. However, only 66% of blacks agreed.
I personally believe that America still has a long way to go towards racial equality, and I am not just talking about whites and blacks, but about all the races that make up our richly diverse nation. But this is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and I want to share a story that reflects his dream. Keep in mind that people of my generation were born at least 10 years after Dr. King died, and have no idea what it would have been like to live in a time of blatant segregation.
Last week, I was visiting the Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. with a close friend of mine who happens to be black. I don't remember which exhibit we were in, but we were going through a section about segregation and the civil rights movement. At one point, you are forced to walk through one of two side-by-side doorways. As we were looking around at the memorabilia, we didn't notice until the last second that I was walking through the doorway labeled "colored" and she was walking through the doorway labeled "white." We both chuckled as we took those steps, more out of irony than poignancy. But looking back, I feel incredibly grateful that she and I live in 2006 instead of 1966.
Being in a museum really puts things into perspective. It reminds you of how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Slow progress was made from the slavery of the 1860's to the segregation of the 1960's…where will we be as a nation in the 2060's? Dr. King knew that a permanent change in the social consciousness of a nation is a long-term work in progress. "The arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," King said. Dr. King would not be satisfied with today's status quo. Neither should we. But I think we can still find hope in knowing we have moved a little farther on the arch towards justice.
This past Friday I joined the Dawson County Democrats for a meal and their monthly meeting held this month in Sumner at Tub's Pub. I'd been told the food was excellent, and it was. During dinner I talked with several Democrats at my table who express frustration with the direction the Republicans are taking our state and country and optimism that the November 2006 election would take the country in a new direction with the Democrats at the helm. Democrats in Dawson County aren't content to just talk about change, they are ready to go out and make it happen.
I spoke about taking the energy of those at the meeting and focusing it to reach out to new voters and elect Democrats to office. Scott Kleeb, our Third Congressional District candidate, spoke about why he was campaigning and how he wants to get government to reinvest in people like it did in the 1930s and 1940s with the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.
The Democratic Community in Dawson County is alive and well and I'm sure great things are going to happen in Dawson County during the 2006 election cycle. I thank Mary for inviting me to the meeting and I look forward to returning to Dawson County.
Written by Zach Nelson.
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James Joyce called Ireland an old sow who eats her young. That same complaint is widely lodged against Democrats who famously--in recent years--seem unable to resist destroying our own. Few things have sickened me over the years more than poll-sniffing Democrats who fell all over themselves to align with attacks on men like Howard Dean and Bill Clinton before him.
As Democrats we share a tremendous legacy of institutions built, wars won, economies grown, labor, civil and environmental justice made law and provision created for the old, the infirm and the poor. Today, Democrats cannot and should not all agree on every issue of public policy. A Democrat is the very opposite of a one issue voter.
In this primary season, as we debate the issues, I look for a high level of civility among and towards our Democratic candidates. I am guilty myself of partisan excess; I wrote a letter to the editor against Janet Stewart a couple years back that was wrong wrong wrong. I here publicly ask, though I do not much deserve, her forgiveness.
EVERY Democratic candidacy, win or lose, is a chance BOTH to raise the level of the debate AND ALSO to build a better candidate with more name recognition in the next cycle, scrutinized and seasoned, tested and challenged, but not beaten so bloody--especially by folks in her or his own party--as to have no heart left to fight again.
Statistically, Democrats are at a disadvantage relative to the possible pool of candidates in Nebraska. Qualitatively, we all know we should be way ahead of the other guys. We have an embarrassment of riches in our state of bright, able, thoughtful, well-spoken Democrats who could and should be running for critical public offices, including the highest in the state and in the land.
Moral giants don't grow on trees, and they are almost never photogenic. And from the peanut gallery, it is easy to snipe and to savage. If we are witty, character assassination is cheap fun. But how many folks have the actual nerve, faith, and commitment, not to mention enough strength of both stomach and character, to file as Democratic candidates in Nebraska? Have you? I thought not. Me neither.
EVERY Democrat's campaign is chance to educate more Nebraskans about Big-D Democrat issues like honest government, health care and keeping American jobs. Today, about as many Nebraskans register Independent as Republican. The vox populi (Latin, meaning the voice of the people) is saying "Convince me," and the good thing about being a Democrat is that the cold facts are almost always on our side.
So-called angry-man politics--the politics of fear and the big lie--must run its course at last. The Democratic Party has long been the party of achievement, compassion and ethics, and the party of the class act, the high road and the fair fight.
Anne Boyle sent this Paul Krugman column to me this morning and I thought it would be appropriate for all of us to read. Be sure to check out Anne's email to me in the excerpt. Thanks, Anne, and to everyone: a happy and healthy new year.
Heck of a Job, Bushie
By PAUL KRUGMAN -- New York Times
A year ago, everyone expected President Bush to get his way on Social Security. Pundits warned Democrats that they were making a big political mistake by opposing plans to divert payroll taxes into private accounts.
A year ago, everyone thought Congress would make Mr. Bush's tax cuts permanent, in spite of projections showing that doing so would lead to budget deficits as far as the eye can see. But Congress hasn't acted, and most of the cuts are still scheduled to expire by the end of 2010.
A year ago, Mr. Bush made many Americans feel safe, because they believed that he would be decisive and effective in an emergency. But Mr. Bush was apparently oblivious to the first major domestic emergency since 9/11. According to Newsweek, aides to Mr. Bush finally decided, days after Hurricane Katrina struck, that they had to show him a DVD of TV newscasts to get him to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.
A year ago, before "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" became a national punch line, the rising tide of cronyism in government agencies and the rapid replacement of competent professionals with unqualified political appointees attracted hardly any national attention.
A year ago, hardly anyone outside Washington had heard of Jack Abramoff, and Tom DeLay's position as House majority leader seemed unassailable.
A year ago, Dick Cheney, who repeatedly cited discredited evidence linking Saddam to 9/11, and promised that invading Americans would be welcomed as liberators -- although he hadn't yet declared that the Iraq insurgency was in its "last throes" -- was widely admired for his "gravitas."
A year ago, Howard Dean -- who was among the very few prominent figures to question Colin Powell's prewar presentation to the United Nations, and who warned, while hawks were still celebrating the fall of Baghdad, that the occupation of Iraq would be much more difficult than the initial invasion -- was considered flaky and unsound.
A year ago, it was clear that before the Iraq war, the administration suppressed information suggesting that Iraq was not, in fact, trying to build nuclear weapons. Yet few people in Washington or in the news media were willing to say that the nation was deliberately misled into war until polls showed that most Americans already believed it.
A year ago, the Washington establishment treated Ayad Allawi as if he were Nelson Mandela. Mr. Allawi's triumphant tour of Washington, back in September 2004, provided a crucial boost to the Bush-Cheney campaign. So did his claim that the insurgents were "desperate." But Mr. Allawi turned out to be another Ahmad Chalabi, a hero of Washington conference rooms and cocktail parties who had few supporters where it mattered, in Iraq.
A year ago, when everyone respectable agreed that we must "stay the course," only a handful of war critics suggested that the U.S. presence in Iraq might be making the violence worse, not better. It would have been hard to imagine the top U.S. commander in Iraq saying, as Gen. George Casey recently did, that a smaller foreign force is better "because it doesn't feed the notion of occupation."
A year ago, Mr. Bush hadn't yet openly reneged on Scott McClellan's 2003 pledge that "if anyone in this administration was involved" in the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity, that person "would no longer be in this administration." Of course, some suspect that Mr. Bush has always known who was involved.
A year ago, we didn't know that Mr. Bush was lying, or at least being deceptive, when he said at an April 2004 event promoting the Patriot Act that "a wiretap requires a court order. ...When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."
A year ago, most Americans thought Mr. Bush was honest.
A year ago, we didn't know for sure that almost all the politicians and pundits who thundered, during the Lewinsky affair, that even the president isn't above the law have changed their minds. But now we know when it comes to presidents who break the law, it's O.K. if you're a Republican.
I'll keep this thread alive -- Happy Holidays…
If you have something to say…
This is a guest blog post from Democratic Candidate for Governor David Hahn.
Thank You Nebraska,
This evening I spoke directly to callers from across Nebraska and answered questions in an event all organized through the Internet. A great first for me, and, for political discourse in the State of Nebraska.
I have committed myself to make this campaign about realistic dialogue and not the normal political monologue that comes at us each election season. This telephone call session was part of that commitment.
So, thank you all for listening.
Have a great evening.
Democratic Candidate for Governor
Judge: Corporate farming ban unconstitutional -- Lincoln Journal Star
Farm groups respond to judge's ruling on I-300 -- Grand Island Independent
State to pick up more of Medicaid recipients' expenses -- Lincoln Journal Star
Community corrections programs to start this spring -- Lincoln Journal Star
The holiday season gives us plenty of reasons to be grateful for the friends and family surrounding us and for the freedom to celebrate whichever religious holiday we choose. Right now about 1,500 Nebraskans are among the thousands of American troops fighting overseas in Iraq and elsewhere in the world. They are away from their friends and family this holiday to protect the freedoms that shape our way of life.
Thanks to Senator Nelson, you can now easily send those troops a special holiday message to brighten their spirits and thank them for their sacrifice. Sen. Nelson's website will host daily holiday greetings from Nebraska schools, civic organizations and individuals offering season's greetings.
You can easily participate. If you have the capability, you can email a 20 second greeting to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can stop by Sen. Nelson's Omaha office to record a greeting. The office is at 7602 Pacific Street and will be open Monday through Friday beginning December 14th through January 15th from 1pm to 4pm for you to record a message.
You can join Nebraska troops in watching the videos on Sen. Nelson's website.
Former Lt. Governor and State Economic Development Director Maxine Moul indicated today that she is leaning towards challenging first time incumbent Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Read the news and stay tuned for more information as it develops…