I don’t feel the need to defend myself from Adam Green’s attempt to purge me from the ranks of progressive bloggers. Readers of the New Nebraska Network know me, and I believe my record speaks for itself. Of course, having my name maliciously dragged through the mud on the front page of OpenLeft and in a featured diary at DailyKos is a less-than-pleasant experience. But, I was touched – even honored – by those who countered Green’s very personal attack and at least offered some perspective on my years of work advancing progressive issues and building a progressive body of political thought from which a New Nebraska might one day emerge.
Less than three months ago, Adam Green contacted me about his organization’s plans to go on the offensive against Senator Ben Nelson over the issue of health care reform. We actually spoke on the phone at length about Sen. Nelson and the local political landscape. I never acted in anything but good-faith in that discussion and was open and honest with my perspective on Nebraska politics. I remained true to that approach offering both praise and criticism in response to Green’s initial campaign targeting Senator Nelson.
Well, that campaign went into a new phase last week and Green again asked for my assistance, hoping that I’d add my name to his organizations’ petition and share their new ad with readers. I informed him that I could not endorse this effort and that I ultimately found it quite destructive. I specifically told Green, "From a national perspective, I can understand why you would choose this approach. But, it promises no way forward winning over the people of Nebraska to our shared ideals. In fact, it probably has quite the opposite effect."
I started to get some idea of where this was all headed when Green’s response was to immediately accuse me of being subject to "dumb conventional wisdom" he would only expect from hacks. Still, he persisted in asking me to post the video just to start a discussion. That’s precisely what I did – having been honest with him about my perspective in multiple exchanges of correspondence.
The next thing I know Green’s writing to tell me that I’m "not a progressive blogger" and that I’ve either been co-opted or been a hack all along. To this, I politely responded, "If you'd like me to post your response as an addendum to my article, I'd be happy to do so. Many of my readers would no doubt agree with your criticism - of both the Senator and myself." But, that offer wasn’t good enough – Green had evidently already decided he had more to gain by making an example out of me. Less than two hours later, my name was being splashed across national blogs as the "Fake Nebraska Progressive Blogger".
Being as outspoken as I’ve been writing about Nebraska politics – under my own name, often fighting battles others would not touch – I’ve developed a pretty thick skin over the years. I can take criticism and usually even welcome it. While I'd contend that the blog posts on OpenLeft and Daily Kos were a petty abuse of Green’s bigger soapbox, these community sites offer a pretty wide open format in which that’s probably to be expected. And, although the headline denouncing me is what most people probably saw, I’m actually quite impressed by the corrective pushback in my defense that ultimately ensued.
What bothers me, however, is that Green’s maliciousness went one step further then posting on these blogs. He also sent out his message denouncing me to an undisclosed list of Nebraskans with orders to "please disseminate widely." The only possible intent for that was to inflict the most possible damage to me personally and to the New Nebraska Network’s credibility. In doing so, Green showed his true character as he set out to destroy one of the very few reliably progressive voices in Nebraska politics.
At NNN’s top left-hand corner, you’ll see the claim that Green took issue with that NNN is the state’s "premiere source of progressive online political commentary." Well, that’s not bragging, and it’s not by choice. It’s a simple statement of fact. I would love more voices doing what I do and doing it better. But, they haven’t yet emerged, and I’ve been left to pretty well hold down the fort as best I can until they do.
I don’t know that my approach is always the right one. I certainly don’t guarantee that I’m right on every issue. But, I’ve always been true to myself and to readers, encouraging diverse viewpoints and constructive discussions as we put forward a better vision that can win the hearts and minds of our fellow Nebraskans. My allegiance has never been to the Democratic Party, nor certainly to Sen. Ben Nelson – but only to that better future for our state in which we can all believe.
I don’t hold myself out to be anyone but who I am. For that honesty, Green attacked me personally before an audience of Nebraskans to whom I can offer no defense. I’ve been doing this work for years trying to give voice, trying to engage, trying to keep the flames of progressive thought alive in a state where they’ve burned dim since long before I was even born. I don’t expect anyones thanks for those efforts, but they should damn well have deserved a little bit of consideration before Green took it upon himself to try and snuff them out.
It is enough to say that Green failed. But, enough of that. From this point forward, let's quit wasting time with this sorry distraction from our immediate fight for fundamental, progressive health care reform - hopefully including a public option - while also continuing our long-term struggle for that New Nebraska about which Adam Green clearly couldn’t give a damn.