Ben Schwartz

First, thank you to school board candidates Al Copper and Larry Steinberger for their participation in the forum sponsored by Get Out the Vote Lexington, held Thursday at the Majestic Theatre.

I served as moderator for the forum, so I will not opine on this race other than to say I appreciated the thoughtfulness both candidates exhibited in their answers.

Public forums can be intimidating, but they are important. I was disappointed the other two candidates in the race didn’t participate. I understand people have their own lives and are busy, but that is true of everyone else involved who did make time to be there, from the candidates to the volunteers to the audience.

If the opportunity presents itself again, I would gladly participate in another forum. I thought it went smoothly and care was taken to make sure the environment was peaceful and supportive. The candidates were able to make their case without being interrupted, which is easy to make happen when people act like adults and show respect for one another.

That of course is in stark contrast to the endless nightmare that is our national political discourse.

About the only thing I’m grateful for this presidential election is that my dad has not and will not defend Donald Trump, at least not in front of me. It’s hard to adequately describe how much that means to me.

Dad is a pretty right-wing guy, but this is the man who, when I was a little kid just a few years older than my son is now, told me stories about Martin Luther King Jr. and spoke to me of equality and justice in America.

I do not think I could have handled him mounting any sort of defense of Donald Trump. It’s been bad enough witnessing people for whom I have far less respect debase themselves.

I don’t know who Dad is voting for, I haven’t asked, and I don’t care. If he thinks Donald Trump is the best choice then that’s who he should vote for. Sometimes people have to roll around in filth. But he at least has the dignity not to revel in it.

On that note, let’s take a quick look at some of the races and issues on the ballot.

President of the United States: Donald Trump (R), Hillary Clinton (D), Gary Johnson (L), Jill Stein (G).

If you’re reading this, you probably live in Nebraska’s third district and your vote for president is irrelevant. That’s okay, though, because none of these people should be president.

Vote for whomever you want, but if you’re going to vote for Trump, you may as well do it twice. Or three times. Or four. However many times it takes to get caught.

(Note: the above is a joke and should not be construed as advocating voter fraud, a pretend problem some people are using to try to drive down voter turnout among groups they don’t like.

Gerrymandered congressional districts. The electoral college. Gov. Pete Ricketts trying to buy his very own Unicameral. These are real impediments to democracy.

Not voter fraud, which poses the same threat to the integrity of elections as an intergalactic cabal of evil talking unicorns.)

Representative in Congress, Third District: Adrian Smith (R), and that’s it.

In 2006, Democrats came within 10 points of winning this seat, which has now been held by Republicans for 56 consecutive years. This year the Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate. That’s pathetic.

Referendum No. 426: If you vote “retain,” you are voting to keep LB 268, the state legislature’s 2015 elimination of the death penalty in Nebraska. If you vote “repeal,” you are voting to get rid of LB 268.

Put another way, if “retain” wins, life in prison without possibility of parole will officially be the harshest sentence available in Nebraska. If “repeal” wins, life in prison will still be the harshest sentence that is actually available, but we’ll all sit around and pretend that some people might actually be executed.

Nebraska doesn’t have a means to execute anyone, we haven’t for years, and there’s no reason other than wishful thinking to believe that will ever change. It’s like telling your 15-year-old if he or she misbehaves, you are going to call Santa Claus and tell him not to bring any presents this year. It’s an empty threat.

I’m voting to retain, but if I was a gambling man I’d bet on repeal. It could be kind of morbidly entertaining to see Gov. Ricketts scramble to succeed where his two Republican predecessors failed and actually execute somebody.

Fun fact: the last Nebraska governor in office when an execution was conducted was Democrat Ben Nelson, all the way back in 1997. Jeez, I thought Republicans were the law and order party. What’s the deal, guys?

Finally, a word on joke write-in candidates. Back in 2004 I wrote in John Elway for president. Having now covered a number of elections, I have a better appreciation for the time of election officials and volunteers. The fact is that when I wrote in John Elway, a very busy person had to stop the important, legitimate work they were doing and record my vote, all because I thought I was Mr. Jokes. And that’s not cool.

So, unless you feel strongly that Batman is best-suited to be president, be a better person than I was and either settle for one of these awful choices or leave it blank.

- Ben Schwartz is the editor of the Lexington Clipper-Herald. Contact him at

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(1) comment

John Mullen

Great article, I wrote a similar one on my blog at

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