Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley is biking the battleground states as part of an ongoing series, visiting 14 states in 14 days to hear what real Americans think of the 2020 election. All of her interviews may be found HERE.
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA — Nebraska is the only state in the nation with a unicameral legislature — a zero party, zero partisanship House absent a Senate where bills are presented and debated without the typical Republican versus Democrat bickering, and then sent along to the governor for signing, or not.
Founding Fathers would be proud.
Americans should be comforted.
After all, in these days and times of violence masquerading as politics, it’s remarkable that there’s a body of politicking politicians out there, somewhere, anywhere, who don’t mind doing politics a more old fashioned way: putting the people first.
Nebraska’s system came into being in 1935 at the pressing of the progressives — but interestingly enough, it’s also a bit how America’s very framers imagined the democratic-republic would be run.
“The Founding Fathers Fears Political Factions Would Tear the Nation Apart,” History wrote.
And isn’t that exactly what’s happened?
The Republicans say this; the Democrats that. The GOP argues this; the liberals, that. The Johnny-come-socialist-latelys, meanwhile, jump into the fray and fill the void created by the never-agreeing parties, and steamroll their own agendas.
What of the people?
What of the of, by and for system of governance?
In the 2020 election cycle, Open Secrets reported that the Democratic Party raised a total of $934 million by early October; the Republicans, just over $1 billion. Then there’s the Democratic National Committee — with its $283 million. Then there’s the Republican National Committee — with its $533 million. Then there’s the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with $249 million; the National Republican Congressional Committee, with $191 million; the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, with $165 million; and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, with $168 million. All by early October. All for the 2020 election cycle.
With so much political fighting for political dollars, it’s simple to see why Joe Q. Taxpayer isn’t exactly top policy priority — for either party.
Enter Nebraska with a unique way of legislating, the unicameral, not bicameral, system.
“In its simplest terms, it just means we have one House, instead of two,” said Kate Keltzel, director of the Unicameral Information Office at Capitol Building in Nebraska.
“It sort of grew out of the national progressive moment which was a strong force among the farmers and they wanted a strong voice … smaller and more responsive,” she went on.
So it is?
“I think it is,” Heltzel said. “We have a one House system but we’re officially non-partisan … folks [are] elected to the legislature on a nonpartisan ballot. … The goal was to make it so legislators care more about issues that impact their constituents than the party.”
Imagine that. Public servants who not only enter office with the tag “For The Citizen” rather than “Republican” or “Democrat,” but also public servants who are forced, because of the very nature of the system, to stay that way.
It’s not a system that could be easily implemented in other state legislatures, or at the U.S. Capitol.
But it is nice to know that somewhere in America, Republicans and Democrats shed their labels to come together as one, united in the premise of serving their citizens. It may not be perfect — but it is the e pluribus unum way.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.