Angie Philips is the kind of candidate for the United States Senate of which Nebraska should be proud. She grew up in rural Western Nebraska with all of the characteristics we Nebraskans hold most dear – hard work, integrity, concern for her neighbors and honest grit. She is not running for the Senate, because she wants to be a United States Senator. She’s running because she wants to help people. Contrast that with Ben Sasse, who is running because he likes moving bullshit around the feed lot.
Angie is an unapologetic Progressive, but points out in the same sentence that she’s more than happy to work with whomever is necessary to get the job done. Unlike a lot of politicians, her first inclination is to listen and not to talk. Undoubtedly, that characteristic came from her years working to bring social services to Western Nebraska after college. She got to know first-hand a population that is increasingly feeling disconnected from their government. She learned what it meant to be a public servant, and she learned that solutions to a problem were not one size fits all. Sometimes it takes cooperation, concern and creativity.
Angie is well-aware of the voting demographics of Nebraska, and in particular the percentage of Republicans to Democrats in her native West. “My entire family are Republicans,” she said. “The first time I remember my Dad voting was for Donald Trump.” She goes on to explain, that even though they see themselves as conservatives or Republicans, they have the same concerns as people in Western Omaha. There’s something wrong with the system, and they're willing to listen to anyone to get it fixed." That must be why Sasse recently dumped an expensive mailing campaign on her home territory. He sees Angie coming.
In her ideal world, Angie sees no need for partisanship, confrontation or anger. No matter how much she believes Donald Trump is not the right man to be President, she does not believe that attacking him is enough to win elections. She explains, we have to heal this divide. We have to work together to create solutions.
She canvassed for both Bernie and Hillary in 2016. She believed in the cause and just wanted to help, but when we lost, she was turned-off by the infighting and finger-pointing in our own Party." She sees the people who get angry and fight over every detail in the bylaws and platforms as just "silly.” Some days it’s so disheartening to look at what people say on Facebook, she points out. No wants to talk about what's wrong with our message, strategy or tactics. We're always right and the other guys are always wrong. No one wants to talk about what we could do better. No one was listening, and that became her motivation to run for office herself – much needed leadership.
When asked about what she thought about what happened the weekend before Super Tuesday, she said, simply, “Deals were made.” And, then decided it made more sense to focus on her own race than to get too wrapped up in it – no deep thinking, just a practical Westerner moving on. “Lots of internal healing needs to happen when this primary is over,” she said, as an afterthought.
Angie supported Elizabeth Warren in the primary. She agrees with her that sexism is far too prevalent and obvious in politics. There are too many people pointing out issues over appearance or likeability. She said, “I’ve been stressed about it since 2016. Haven’t you?” It was a terribly sad kind of funny comment.
I heard Angie speak a month or so ago, and the thing that comes across loud and clear is sincerity. She feels this election. She cares, and she wants the best for Nebraska. Her laundry list for what needs to get done strings from bringing large corporations under control to bringing adequate health care to rural Nebraska to ending hate and bigotry.
She’s not very approving of the job that the media is doing. She considers the lack of neutral information “scary” and “maddening.” And, recognizes she needs to watch Fox News as much as she does MSNBC to get the whole picture. “That’s the only way you can get both sides of the story,” she said.
Angie is well aware she’s not going to outspend Ben Sasse, so she says she's just going to have to out-budget him and outwork him. She points to her legion of good friends, who are volunteering their time and energy to helping her catch hold. It’s obvious she’s very proud of both family and friends who are helping in her cause. She doesn't want to let them down.
When asked about Sasse’s feed lot advertising campaign, she explained, “The people in Western Nebraska hate those ads. They are so condescending." We discussed the ads at length. No one believes Ben Sasse ever goes out and works in a feed lot, and if they did, no one can think of a single purpose in moving around fresh shit. It’s obvious that some smug Washington, DC consultant, probably from New York or Boston, and absolutely no experience in rural anywhere, dreamed that up so us hicks from Nebraska would believe Ben Sasse understands farming or ranching – probably got a big laugh out of it.
It reminds me of an old story about an Omaha Republican running for statewide office. He was speaking to a large crowd in a farm lot one day and decided to stand on top of a maneuver pile for a better vantage. When he was done speaking, he was very proud of himself for connecting with the rural folks, until one old farmer in bib overalls said to him, “Hal, I knew you were fond of bullshit, but I don’t think you’re going to get many votes from wearing it around.”
Photo provided courtesy of Facebook.com.