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WHAT'S RIGHT ABOUT NEBRASKA...How the Dems. Lost the Heartland of American Populism

This article is both old and freshespecially, given the fact that the Democrats attempted (but miserably failed) to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Ohio in the special congressional election (August, 2005). We used to do that when I played football . . . underdogs by 5 TDs and we only lost by a field goalhey, we actually wongiven the fact our loss was an embarrassment to the other team, right? So, gleefully the Dems. jump on the Dean bandwagon of interpolation and witness a sea change in the American body politicthats like saying we went to Iraq to spread democracy and freedom. Frankly, when Dr. Dean wakes up, after just missing the ferry (nice jump, though), the Dems. will do another revisionism of history and well take a deep breath, sigh of relief, as the more things change, the more they stay the same.

By Doug Krieger

Liberal Democrats dont get it. Americas book ends dont get it. Kerrys on a boat somewhere and will wait until next week and film it. Barbara Streisand has never even seen it and wouldnt know it if it were starring her right in the face. George Soros is scared to death of it; while, knows its coming right at thembut, alas, Thomas Frank, allegedly, a recent convert from it, really cant figure it out eitherthough try he may. Thomas sees and attempts to analyze it in "Whats the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America," but discovers a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Now, Im not saying that I really see it all eitherhowever, since East Coast transplant Frank, from affluent Johnson County near Kansas City, KS tried to figure it outwhy cant I give it a shot, since my ancestors, who hail from the heartland, are the victims of his analysis; and, besides, Ive been transplanted to the Left Coast? Furthermore, I bear strong Populist Democratic roots `a la William Jennings Bryant, the Olympic-size looser of Democrat Presidential aspirations and Christian fundamentalist, all wrapped inside an enigma.
Truthfully, however, Im a bit ambivalent in addressing the obviousbut for the sake of the effete left-wing of Americana who cant see the forest for hugging the trees, nor distinguish adult stem-cell research from embryonic-stem cell research, I am pressed to do so and sidestep the remarks made by author Bill Watterson: The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.


It was just about overdue for me to head to Hastings, Nebraska and visit the land of my forebears. So, in the summer of 2003traveling east on I-80we plunged fifteen miles or so south and discovered where three generations of German-Russians landed to work for the Burlington Northern Railroad and carve out their homesteads about twenty miles east of Hastings College in a quaint little berg called Sutton. Johannes (changed to John), Karl (changed to Carl) and Georg (changed to George) knew full-well that the old patriarchal system which ruled their households, from Catherine the Greats invitation in 1763 to homestead the Volga region (and keep out the marauding Moslems) until 1890 (when they landed on Ellis Island), was gone for goodthis was AmeriKa!

Man, why did Dad leave this beautiful place (it was summer, wet, and not winter)just because an old Dustbowl or something? Maybe Tom Daschle (also Volga Deutsch) knows why they left? Couldnt believe itthere to my left was Spady Motors (hugeprobably the biggest dealership in town) and related to me. Why, Grandmother Spady-Krieger would have been proud of me to own a car dealership. Then there was Krieger Electriche looked pretty prosperous too. All hard working, no doubt. There was the little Emmanuel German Congregational Churchof course, on the south side of the tracks that run through Hastings (incidentally, the wrong side)its now a little Church of Christ but still looks the same, and you could still see the old frozen-in-time warehouses near the tracks where scores of relatives worked.

Then off to see Hastings Collegeoverwhelming for the size of Hastingsreally kind of a neat place. Lots of cool, old looking buildings scattered amongst huge elms and one-third the price of California federalist-style mansions nestled throughout the campus area. Youd never know that in the 1950s and 60s this was the fulcrum, the bastion for Billy James Hargis Christian Anti-Communism Crusade. This private Christian College would have been the delight of the anti-evolutionist Bryantand a great place to release a more modern version of his Cross of Gold speech.


Mom was having a hard time choosing between Adlai Stevenson and Dwight D. Eisenhower. We were listening to these things called conventions on our super-doper Zenith Radio (could get short wave too)didnt have T.V. I think she finally voted for Ikebut I wouldnt know that for sure, never askedI mean, when youre eight-years old, and being into dirt clod fights and alldidnt care.

We moved to Sacramento and I started the third grade. Mom, now a single parent, did her best to raise us kids and wanted us to be near dadthats why we moved. She later got a job at the Almond Growers/Blue Diamondgot up everyone morning, made us breakfast, and took off to work in her neat little brown outfit, super early. One day she came home and told us kidsWell, Ive been fired! I tried to organize a labor union with the other girls and the bosses kicked us out . . . but the Teamsters are going to take care of me and you kids, so dont worry. Ill never forget that day. The Teamsters? Maybe theyre a baseball team that helps people like us?

Over at dads house the Presidential elections were taking placesome time in the mid-fifties. Dad and Margie (my step-mother who once picked fruit in the Santa Clara Valley before it was a highwayalso a rabid Democrat) were voting Democratsomething about Harry Truman convinced them that the Democrats were for the little guyand that guy Hoover nearly destroyed us in the Mid-West. If it wasnt for Roosevelt, wed all have starved . . . the Democrats care for people like us and wed probably vote for a jackass if they ran one. (Note: Dad had no idea that they actually did this on several occasions.)

At the time I thought that was kind of funnybut all these stories about my roots tell a tale that Thomas Frank really doesnt understand too well.

Then, along came Cuba, the bomb, and the commies. Dad even built a family bomb shelter in his new home in Carmichaelit too was kind of neatI just had to figure out how to get across town fast enough to get down there and survive a couple of weeks while the radiation clamed down and somehow allowed us to come out of hiding to scavenge for food, and meet the other bomb shelter survivors, and continue the fight.

The Democrats used to be hard on communismI cant figure out why theyre not any more . . . Im not planning to vote this time around (quoting Dad). Anyway, every time I vote for a Democrat, I get audited on my taxes. Another thing, if we let the reds take over, well be isolated and their atheism will take over too. Humm . . ., their atheismwhats that got to do with voting for Republicans? Nothing son, I just feel that way.


Frank, being from Kansas, doesnt really understand why these populist, died-in-the-wool Roosevelt Democrats, keep voting against their economic well being. I mean, why on earth you would vote for a party that is anti-union, pro-tax cuts for the rich and famous, outsource-NAFTA specialists, pro-monster-plantation-ADM-to-the-world-against-small farmers, and in general, the Party of Big Business, Country Clubbers, Oil moguls and everything that bespeaks of the rich get richer? These people must be self-haters or just plain ignorant rednecksin sum, hicks that just cant figure out the obvious.

Im trying to make the obvious, the obvious. Its like voting, while holding your nosesomeones got to do it! Now, populist Bryantlater of Scopes-Darrow Monkey Trial famecelebrated his farmer-labor populist roots WITHIN THE FRAMWORK of Christian evangelical fundamentalisman experience, most likely, observed only from the outside, by Frank (no offense to his intellectual genius-void-of-sacredness-style piece of social science pandering to the Left).


Frankly (no offense here), along with Clark Gables remark to Scarlet, they (i.e., these former Roosevelt-Truman Democrats) dont really Give a da (Better to leave out the mn because I know Frank can figure it out better).

Life was hectic in Sacramento in the late 1950s. Wed go back to the Mid-West for visits now and againbut it was obvious, Dad and Mom were desperately trying to live the American Dreamalthough they had no idea it was called that and, if they did, it didnt mean all that much to them, they were trying to survive. But, what was happening in the Mid-West, the South, the West in general, and especially in the Great Central Valley of California, among these Democrat-style Populists, was a sea-change in the way they viewed their Party.

In this aspect, Franks rightas far as they were concerned; the RLs (Radical Left) took over. The white Northerners among them tolerated the Civil Rights movementsome even heartily supported it because it was fair and right for all Americans to have a piece of the piebut, of course, the Southern Strategy was in full force by the late 60s and, along with the embrace of the social agenda of the RLswell, it was only a matter of time before the Southern Strategy would join the Northern social malcontents. Thence, Reagans one-two punch blew these populists clean off the Democrat radar screens and into the arms of a kinder and gentler Americanotwithstanding the fat-cat country clubbers (who are hypocrites anywayand we fully intend to take over the Republican Party in any event).


My buddy, Dene McGriff, took off to a Christian camp near Sacramento and met with some young families who tried to get his goati.e., Hey, Dene, Bush is the best thing that ever happened to AmericaRight? And, hes a Christian, right? So---arent you voting for Bush?

Dene (whose relatives come from Oklahoma, just south of Kansas in case certain social scientists dont know where thats at) wouldnt take sides and said his citizenship is in heaven no thanks, I wont take your bait. He also warned them about getting involved in one-issue politics.

Then, Mike M., getting a little more serious, spoke up: McGriff, abortion trumps everything . . . and as far as I am concerned, thats the only issue that matters. Yeshe really did say this and he really meant it (Mikes folks were conservative Catholics, but he now attends a little evangelical Jesus People-type gathering with like-minded anti-abortionists). See, were talking real world hereyou dont need another social scientist blathering about why people vote Republican and against their pocket books.

Sue meits the truth! You get right down to it and youre left with this overriding sense that these people, my people, feel totally disenfranchised by the Democrat Partythe same compromising, effete, hypocritical, commercial grubbers, like Clinton, who pushed through their vision for the working man and woman of America, along with the help of Congressman Bob Matsui (for whom I voted for high school president at C. K. McClatchy Sr. High School in Sacramentohe won tooremember Bob: he was the front man for Clintons NAFTA crusade (talk about holding your nose)).

Stinks, doesnt it? Youre sittin in this Republican Big Tent, and you know that McCain, Schwarzenegger, Giuliani, dont even come close to how the Republican trench warfare types, the foot soldiers of American conservatism, really feel about these social issues. This little co-existence is the best we can find for now. Going back to the Dems, with their gay-marriage agenda (the final straw for Hispanics and any waffling Catholic whose family prays together, stays together); along with their Whoppi Goldberg-Hollywood blasphemies (Kerrys heart and soul of America typesgive me a break); their pro-choice-at-any-cost-free-our-women-from-the-oppressive Religious Right; their hug-a-tree and protect the spotted owl no matter how many jobs it costs; and on and on and on.

You see, Frank, these people BELIEVE. True believers, especially under attack from the protesters and anarchists in New York, really believe their way of life is under assault and that economic issues, war issues, ad nausea, ad infinitum, dont matter, no how. Furthermore, the best thing that ever happened since 9/11 is the ACLU loosing a few of their precious, little civil libertiesif they only understood the common good.


Now, what Ive saidand the populist manner of my address (purposefully orchestrated for effect)doesnt mean that my conclusions differ from those of Frank. No, what Im saying is simply this: Frank sees whats happening but I really dont think he can grasp the inner intensity of why its happeningnor the true historicity of its inexorable march toward total political polarization in this nation. He sees it happening, but like the Left who relishes his clever analysesthinking that they too understand why its happeningsimply is fooling around with symptoms and hasnt any clue as to the real cause.

Like the present European mindset that is aghast at Bushs appeal to morality involvement in political affairs dare he defile the secular debate! Yeah, who are these leaders supporting Kerry? Hasnt Kerry ever heard of the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny? Frank better tell the lefties why the Reps. are just thrilled to welcome this massive incursion of troops into their tentas long as we can toss them a conservative judge now and again, well just keep picking their pockets (heres where Frank and I see eye to eye), and who knows, some day Roe v. Wade will be tossed out! By that time theyll be flat brokebut itll be worth it to um, right?


Theres a group of evangelical lefties (whoops, neutral centrists) who are running newspaper articles entitled: GOD IS NEITHER REPUBLICAN NOR DEMOCRAT (something like that). Really, I wish Sojourners well. The only thing is thisafter you read through the multitude of their considerations on why believers (or for that matter anyone else out there who is of voting age) cant be single-issue oriented in voting for political candidates, especially for Presidentyou realize that no one fits the bill and that your only choice is: Throw all the bums out!

Seriously, go to their web site and then go figureno one measures up to their litmus testsunless Im missing somebody. You get the feelingbetter vote for Jesusthe ultimate absentee ballot vote-getter in all this exchange!

This is not a trite conclusionnor is the defection of classical Democratic populism and its headlong rush to the Republicans a superficial phenomenon. It has taken time to entrench itselfand the effete Left in America is grossly underestimating its impact on the American body politic. These populist masses are fleeing to the Republican Party because they understand they have to choose the lesser of two evils or perish in the process. I cant hear what youre saying, because what youre doing is speaking so loud that Im going deaf. You look at your pink slip and then you glance at a massive gay rights parade, and before you realize whats happeningyou vote Republican!


Hunkering down in the South, the Mid-West, the West, in Middle America somewherewell, you got any better ideas? It reminds me of the train taking Kerry and Edwards to Colorado through Kansas in the summer of 2004. Someone blew the schedule and the express went sailing through that little pit stopwhile the forlorn and long-awaiting throng of hopeful Kansans, dumbfounded, cheered and waved goodbye, blessed that they could at least view the train that carried the man of their dreams. Yep, that little incident spoke volumesbut Kerry sent Edwards back and never went himselfgoodbye Dorothy, goodbye Kerry (whoops), and goodbye Toto (my PETA friends would appreciate that).

About the Author: Doug is a member of the "Last Days Network" . . . a group of evangelical pundits providing news and analysis on Religion in Politics. "Applied Biblical prophecy," apostasy and deception, the impact of the New American World Order System, and the influence of the Religious Right and Left upon American culture--are topics discussed by the group. He is an educator in the public schools (California) and an administrator. Dougs articles can be found all over the netbut anchored @ (a real upbeat web site, given the name).

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