The swearing-in is upon us; the swearing-at can’t be too far behind.
Eighteen new state senators, a new governor and a handful of newly elected state officials are taking over this week. Nebraska’s first official season of the New Year – the Legislature – has begun. The swearing-in phase, a grace period for the newbies, will soon be followed by the second official season – the Swearing At.
That, of course, is followed by the third season – Football –, which in recent years has become known as The Swearing. In a post-Pelini era, football may well revert to the dad-gummit phase instead of the f-bombs when you least expect it. The fourth season is the Holidaze, or the Hallowthanksmas.
But, for now, all eyes are on the Capitol and the shuffling deck that is the nation’s only one-house Legislature. The 49 will have their hands full of major issues that carry over from year-to-year as well as a host of bright ideas from the newbies who either don’t know any better or are carrying the water to fulfill the promises they made to get elected.
The first new governor in 10 years will be scrambling to fill three major cabinet posts – Corrections, Economic Development and Health and Human Services – banking on a national search to provide the strong leaders so desperately needed in the scandal-racked divisions. All this plays out while he is also trying to establish some amount of swagger with the legislative branch. A new auditor and attorney general will also be looking for their grooves.
A highlight of the Legislature season is the scramble among veteran senators seeking leadership positions, bigger offices and more importance. But such gamesmanship soon gives way to the task of meeting the public’s demands for economic growth, tax relief, public safety and equitable treatment for all.
Failure to provide any of the above leads to an early arrival of the second season – the Swearing At. More often than not, this season is also enhanced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Spring Football Game. There are folks who care about government and politics, but there are way more who care about Nebraska football. This mix dictates the length and intensity of the Swearing At.
After the Legislature packs up its bags and disperses, and their action or inaction is cussed and discussed, all eyes turn toward the third season – Football. With a new head coach and a cadre of new assistants, this will be a season of high hopes and speculation. At times it will still feel like Swearing At, but right on schedule it will all of a sudden be Holidaze.
The final season is probably better known as Hallowthanksmas, because it is hard to distinguish based on the overlapping retail pitch. The State Fair is barely over before Halloween decorations begin showing up in stores. And the pumpkins and witches seem to morph overnight into turkeys and pilgrims, all the while fighting for space with the evergreens and the elves. Whatever happened to no Christmas music before Thanksgiving and no turkey talk before Halloween?
Welcome to the New Year. It’s going to be an interesting one.
By J.L. Schmidt