To the roughly 60-odd percent of registered Nebraskan voters who voted, thank you. To the other 40-ish percent, well, you’re probably not reading this anyway, so whatever. Here we are; a state bridging the central Northwest with Dixie. A bridge that had two of 93 counties vote one way—barely—while all the others voted another. The question is: beyond connecting a great swath of orange, er, red together, where are we a bridge to exactly? Unreason is where.
I will not join in my candidate’s categorization of 50 percent of Trump supporters as being in an irredeemable basket of deplorables. I will not blame 3rd Parties either since those folks’ 46,000 votes here would not have altered the overall outcome (although they could have made a difference in the 2nd District, maybe). I will say though, Nebraska voted overwhelmingly to reject reason on November 8th. I will provide just four (of many) examples:
1) The repeal of the repeal of the death penalty is the first. Research is all over the map on whether capital punishment serves as a deterrent. Some studies say yes, some say no. What is clear and demonstrable is the cost. With Nebraska’s looming budgetary challenges, the state—thanks in large part to an overridden Governor’s personal financing effort—has signed-on, no matter the cost, to attempting to kill the prisoners which it has been unsuccessfully trying to kill for decades despite the previous legality of this ultimate punishment. This is inherently unreasonable. I get it. There are very bad folks among us and hopefully, we can remove them from our communities before they do too much harm. If we can’t, we can—again hopefully—keep them away from us after the fact. Killing them on the other hand is expensive and could, I say could, open the State up to wrongful death litigation. The State has been wrong before in such matters, luckily before they killed somebody.
2) Climate change is a scientific reality yet we have elected non-scientific thinkers into each seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and to the Presidency. Add to this our sitting U.S. Senators and we have a trifecta of fingers-in-their-ears deniers shouting, “Nah-nah-nah! I can’t hear you!” officials representing nearly two million folks largely dependent on the natural world and its changing climate. Again, this is an unreasonable and unscientific position. Seems we have opted to have our children and their children deal with an issue so that we can pretend we defended ourselves from a “nanny state.”
3) Evolution. Mr. Vice President-elect Pence, please hear this: Biological Evolution—descent with modification—is true. It has been going on for millions and millions of years and continues today. I know you don’t understand the difference between theory and hypothesis so let me do my civic duty and help you out. From Dictionary.com: “Theory, noun. 1. a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena” You know, as in; germ theory—you do wash your hands I hope? Heliocentric theory, the crazy “only a theory” idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun. You get where I’m going with this I think. Good. Because my hypothesis is that if you don’t, you’re choosing not to for purely unscientific reasons.
4) Abstinence only education in our public schools. The Grab Our Pu, sorry again, the Grand Old Party’s platform, “...sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. That approach—the only one always effective against premarital pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease...” except, of course, it isn’t effective at all. Federally funded studies have shown that not only are youths enrolled in current abstinence-only education programs NOT any more likely to delay sexual interaction but, that the U.S.—where abstinence only education is widespread—has the highest teen pregnancy rates of any industrialized country in the world. Unreasonable thinking produces unreasonable policy.
So fellow Nebraskans, here we are. On the bridge we built. The bridge we asked for with our votes or non-votes. It isn’t as nice as the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge but will certainly turn out to be more expensive. At least in terms of Nebraskan and American competitiveness. To this onlooker, it reminds one of a notorious bridge from political skirmishes years ago...the bridge to nowhere.