More can make the party merrier, but Nebraskans should ask for — well — more.
That’s more as in the tone and text of the state’s next gubernatorial campaign and the smarts and talent and originality of the hopefuls — not the number of them.
Having a robust campaign of ideas and crisp debate is not a math problem; it’s a perspective issue. Has winning superseded governing?
Besides, we already have the numbers.
State Auditor Mike Foley’s fedora brought the hat total to six inside the political ring marked “Next Nebraska Governor.”
Foley rounds out a quartet of declared Republican candidates, including State Sens. Beau McCoy, Charlie Janssen and Tom Carlson. Last weekend, former U.S. Senate candidate and businessman Pete Ricketts also signed on.
On the Democratic side, State Sen. Annette Dubas and former regent Chuck Hassebrook have also declared their candidacies.
With a half dozen signed up and more in the wings, the arithmetic should appeal to voters. More minds should equal more ideas, more innovation and more efficient and economical solutions to Nebraska’s problems.
That would be nice.
With political parties hardening their lines and state parties listening more to national voices, however, policy positions can be predictable and, within primaries, policy differences can be negligible.
All of which means to some voters that, aside from a candidate’s occasional goofy proposition or inane suggestion, a gubernatorial election is reduced to the same old, same old.
I’m beginning to think I’m one of those voters.
Given the political, monetary and media realities of today, chances are good my dreams of more are just so much pipe smoke.
Put another way: What do I know?
Tax codes may thrill wonks and convince PACs. Culture policy wars may impress the overnamed “values” voter. Belt tightening may be the most popular schtick of all.
Silly me. I was looking for something like a breath of fresh air or a dash of color outside the lines or even one new idea.
Our political campaigns and, to some extent, our political thinking have become scripted and prescripted. This allows a certain amount of needed, albeit finely edited, articulation.
Still, while a website may perfectly explain a policy position or a well-crafted speech may thrill the choir to which the candidate sings, how often do we see someone go off the rails during an interview or after being asked a question or otherwise outside the script?
Look no further than national examples of President Barack Obama’s “guns and Bibles” observation or Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” musing.
Governing requires many things, including deliberation, delegation, decision-making and communication. But unless our leaders can also make their case and respond effectively “off script,” they — and essentially us — can become beholden to positions and parties rather than responsive to people.
Before my soapbox grows too slippery, those who want Nebraska’s corner office should also guard against tax-code myopia, a malady suffered by those who believe all ills — government and otherwise — can be solved with prudent tax plans and widespread austerity.
Fine. But meanwhile, Nebraskans live with a child welfare system that has made some steps in the right direction but has miles to go; drive over 2,978 structurally deficient bridges, sixth most in the country; and abide by a state legal system and sentencing policies that some are now questioning, given recent events in Omaha.
Finally, we best never forget that whomever we elect governor makes a difference in the lives of Nebraskans. Residents in central Nebraska need look no further than the process that will move the Grand Island Veterans Home to Kearney in 2018.
For the six candidates and counting, the campaign continues. The rest of us would do well to ask for more.