Finally, weíre down to just two candidates for the U.S. Senate.
Those of us who paid attention survived weeks of the mud-slingingist Republican primary race in modern times, complete with barrages of jarring TV attack ads.
Don (Iíll never quit running for something) Stenberg bashed Jon (Iíve been planning to run this race all my life) Bruning. Deb Fischerís ďfresh faceĒ message finally took hold with voters in the final days.
No wonder Fischerís message took hold. She said it enough.
The truth is that Fischer has been on educational boards and state committees most of her adult life. Anyone familiar with education knows it is often political. In education, people in-fight over who will make the decisions. Often itís a vicious fight.
And, after leaving the education arena, Fischer served in the state Legislature for eight years.
Then she ran for the Senate.
She has as much political ambition as a career politician.
For his part, Bob Kerrey has considerable history for everyone to see, history that is coming back to haunt him in attack ads, but he is not really a career politician.
In the last 50 years, Kerrey has spent just 18 in elected office (4 as Governor, 12 as Senator).
Tell the candidates that we see through the mudslinging.
They have both proved themselves capable of better things.
As both of them campaign, listening to voters, we have a narrow but real opportunity to influence our next Senator to really represent us, to represent what we want and what we donít want.
One thing right off the top -- we donít want more attack ads. We donít want to know how much an opponent can be smeared.
We want the candidates to be loyal opposition -- loyal to basic human dignity, regardless.
We donít want lots of party lines. We donít want more government regulations. Enough already; make those hundreds of thousands of regulations work. We donít want bigger businesses with tax breaks for corporate CEOs already earning hundreds of millions a year.
On the other hand, we want more opportunities for working, law-abiding people. We want to start a business, go to college, start a family without going deep into debt for most of our lives, only to have to start saving for nursing care when we get the other bills under control.
America stands for opportunity. The basic measure of opportunity is the opportunity to earn a decent living doing worthwhile things while raising a family.
We want affordable health care, not runaway costs and complex coverage.
We want a balanced federal budget and significant deficit reduction. We donít want a future of higher taxes and crummy government service, if not outright economic depression.
We want everyone to give something, and give up something, to make our country better. We want it badly. We want a sense of national purpose, pride and satisfaction.
We donít want expensive, endless wars halfway around the world. We want defense against attacks.
We want less taking from government.
We want more sensibility.
Fischer is right about a couple things Ė this is a defining race, and yes, we need a Senator with a fresh attitude. But itís not a defining race between political parties; itís a defining race to see who represents us.
Kerrey is also right about a couple things. For one, itís good to work across the aisle in Congress for whatís needed in our country. And Kerreyís idea of two-hour candidate debates, where he and Fischer ask each other questions, would be a welcome change from the sound-bite devastation of attack ads.
In debates the style of Lincoln-Douglas debates 150 years ago, Nebraskaís top candidates could discuss real issues, thinking aloud under pressure, much like they have to do in Congress.
If you see one or both of the candidates, politely and firmly tell them to do better. It will take some doing from several people, but we could make this a meaningful campaign season.
We've had it with campaigns based on the worst things people can do in politics.