While the Lege may be officially nonpartisan, in reality two major political parties with very different viewpoints often collide on the floor of the Lege: the Dandies and the Cornbreds.
The Dandies are the dandified city-folk senators who represent the blue dot of the Omaha metro area. The Cornbreds are pretty much everybody else: the small-town senators, those who grew up on farms and ranches, and the wannabe senators who wish they had grown up on farms and ranches.
Occasionally, the Lincoln-area senators join in with the Dandies to duke it out with the Cornbreds, but they are just as likely to side with the rural senators on any given issue. I guess you could call Lincoln senators the Mercenaries. They fight for whoever cuts them the best deal.
The Dandies and Cornbreds fight over urban versus rural issues on a regular basis. The Cornbreds brag that they are the “true Nebraskans” because they live “the Nebraska way,” which for a lot of rural Nebraskans means land rich, cash poor, and a hundred miles from nowhere.
The Dandies, on the other hand, fall all over themselves to espouse how Cornbred they really are. This happens in particular when the bill before the Lege has to do with traditional Cornbred activities like hunting, fishing, and floating down the Dismal River in a stock tank loaded with Miller Lite and shotguns.
Senator Pirsch is a nice guy. He really is. Has a cute wife, three adorable little kids; but let’s face it: Pete is the embodiment of a dandified city-slicker. Skinny, nerdy, born wearing a suit and tie. Probably still uses a pocket protector and I don’t mean a nut cup. Pete mows his lawn in a Polo shirt, khaki shorts (pressed) and loafers. He’s a Boy Scout, a Rotarian, and an occasional health club swimmer, if the water is warm enough. A hunter he is not, and the only place he fishes is at mom’s house out on the sand pit lakes west of Omaha.
But somehow, someway, somebody talked Senator Pirsch into introducing this constitutional amendment to protect hunting and fishing forever. The other metro senators bellied up to the microphone in droves to talk about how they have hunted and fished all of their lives and they love hunting and fishing so much that if somebody doesn’t like hunting and fishing they must not be a “true Nebraskan.”
Senator Tony Fulton bragged on the mike that he is a member of the legislature’s “Sportsmen’s Forum,” an informal group that gets together with good old boys from little grassroots groups like the NRA to introduce bills supporting woodsy things like good old boys, sportsmen, and the NRA.
Then in his next breath, Senator Fulton said he was approached in the past by good old boys to introduce a similar hunt-fish amendment, but he rejected the idea because of reasons “elucidated” by another senator. Senator Fulton likes to use obscure, dandified words like “elucidate” and “volition” instead of the more common and understandable “explain” and “choice.”
Rule Number One: If you are going to pretend to be a Cornbred, talk like one. Listen to Senator Christensen and take notes.
Senator Steve Lathrop boasted that he has hunted and fished and loves hunting and fishing and his daughter even owns a horse, which she takes to hunter jumper shows all over the region.
Rule Number Two: If you are going to pretend to be a Cornbred, ride Western.
One by one, the guys gleefully grabbed the mike and gushed about their formative years living “the Nebraska way.” Thank goodness there are a few women in the Lege, because they don’t feel the instinctive need to enter into macho pissing matches over fishing tackle and bullets.
Senator Amanda McGill said if we are going to protect all that is sacred to Nebraskans with a constitutional amendment, let’s also protect our other fundamental Nebraska rights. She introduced an amendment to the bill to protect the right of Nebraskans “to swim, to farm, to ranch, to drive, to boat, to tube, to golf, to nap, to parent, to learn, to camp, to pioneer, to innovate, and to watch Husker football.”
Not to be outdone, Senator Brenda Council introduced an amendment to the bill that reads: “The citizens of Nebraska also have a fundamental right to eat cows and pigs.”
I hope somebody introduces an amendment to protect our fundamental right to eat chickens and turkeys, because Frankly they are very tasty, too.
Senator Tanya Cook, bless her heart, is a true Dandy, and she is not about to pretend to be a Cornbred. She stood up and bravely said to all of the other senators, “I am fatigued by the constant rural imagery of being ‘Nebraskan’ or living ‘the Nebraska way.’ I find it tiresome, but typical. Nebraska is a diverse state. Every time you espouse how great it is to live on a farm, hunt, and fish, it makes some people want to pack up and leave.” Frankly I think Senator Cook may be speaking about herself, but I hope she doesn’t leave because she is turning into a superb and courageous stateswoman.
The point of the level-headed female members of the Lege was this: Oh, you silly boys.
We don’t need to waste time and money on a constitutional amendment to protect hunting and fishing. We have a Lege full of locked-and-loaded Cornbreds and Dandies who have made that very clear.
So if you are of a mind to mess with the sacred right to hunt and fish in Nebraska, this message from the Lege is for you:
We sure as shootin’ don’t need a constitutional amendment to run ya’ll off. You better skee-daddle on outa here or we’ll whip your little wussie butts with our Winchester rifles and Zebco rods.
And our pocket protectors.