Some Top Concerns In SW Nebraska

I’ve been asking people around McCook a question that varies in form, but yesterday came out as “What are the top three issues you are concerned about, whether on the national-international level, state level, or local level?” A majority of the people interviewed are registered Democrats. But I did not “seed” the conversation with issues or ideas – I just asked the question.

What am I hearing? (a summary)

  • I almost always hear about the war in Iraq, about the current US Administration in general, and about the loss of American freedoms to an over-active executive branch.
  • I often hear about economic matters, ranging from the national debt through fuel prices to economic development to trying to live on a limited income.
  • I often hear about issues of welfare, life-style, and moral priorities (but not the issues the religious right usually pushes. In fact it comes up regularly that people are very worried about the roles religious institutions are assuming in politics and government.)

As an example, here’s a top-four list that one person gave me in response to my top-three question:

  1. Economic development / economic opportunity / population decline in Southwest Nebraska.
  2. “Losing our freedoms” in our over-reaction to terrorist threats, and in unwise and unplanned reactions.
  3. “Peace in the Middle East”
  4. Research money and research efforts to develop more options in bio-fuel development.


Here’s a broader list of top concerns from a number of people I’ve talked with in the past week or so. They are not ranked by frequency of occurence, and some are grouped together. They were all obviously serious concerns to the persons mentioning them. Do you share these concerns?

  • The war in Iraq (usually as in “get out of there” or “They lied their way into it”, also as to providing adequately for the troops while they’re there, and after they become veterans)
  • The national debt / deficit (as in “bankrupt us” or “tax refunds when we cannot afford it”)
  • The dangers of “religion in politics”, or “the religious right”
  • Trying to live on a limited income
  • Women’s and children’s issues
  • Youth (as in Nebraska’s very high ranking in underage drinking and in teen pregnancy, frequency of parents assisting their kids in alcohol and drug use, lack of youth activities in rural Nebraska)
  • “Cowardly Democrats” who won’t stand up for the people or for the truth of what’s being done (and, “Democrats have to step up to the plate”)
  • The Bush Administration in general (as in “lying” and “sowing distrust of government”)
  • The President “taking too much power to himself”, the loss of our freedoms because of hasty and unwise anti-terrorism measures, loss of civil liberties (as in phone and internet eavesdropping, loss of rights to due process)
  • No Child Left Behind (described as “no school teacher left standing” or “lots of children left behind”)
  • Groundwater
  • Federal lack of competence in pursuing the goals of “homeland security”
  • Immigration (both as to un-controlled borders and as to threats to low-income citizens)

Leave a Comment


  • Thanks for sharing your concerns. Tax fairness (and fiscal responsibility) seem to rank high on people’s lists. Economic development and population decline also.

    But –

    If you’re “still waiting to hear a Democrat provide a useful alternative,” I’d have to say you are not listening to any Democrats. Or maybe you haven’t quite acknowledged that the vast majority of the Democrats out there don’t really look, talk, think, or act like the Limbaugh – Fox – White House straw man versions. The vast majority of what many Republicans (a shrinking percentage, though) think of as “Democrat” or “liberal” is just plain slander. Slander is not a very helpful component of political or public-policy discussions.

    As to “I’d do it better” – well,

    I think just telling us the truth about what one is doing (and why) with the massive power one holds would be enough “better” to merit vigorous support.

    Working for and investing in effective and top priority “homeland security” needs that have been long ignored or underfunded by Bush would be enough “better” to merit vigorous support.

    Acknowledging the disconnect between 9/11 and Iraq (which Bush finally did recently, very briefly), and acknowledging that the Iraq quagmire has made our national security situation much worse – that would be doing it better, and worth vigorous support.

    Fiscal responsiblity and accountability and/or some concern for honesty and fairness in tax policy would be enough of a “better” to merit vigorous support.

    As you can (or apparently cannot) imagine, that list of explicit “betters” could get quite long.

  • Larry,
    I agree this is a list of problems! I would say these are probably uppermost in a lot of people’s minds all over the nation. The only thing I would change is that I’m still waiting to hear a Democrat provide a useful alternative other than “I’d do it better.” That isn’t useful. Or helpful. I think the tax issue is one that Dems and Republicans can be lashed with. As far as this corner of Nebraska goes – economic development and the loss of young people are two of my concerns – of course they are intimately connected too.
    Thanks for asking the question!

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