Ornery Ernie

March 12, 2006 at 7:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Ernie Chambers is brilliant. He is a master legislator, and he is dedicated to his principles in a way that few of us comprehend.

Nancy Hicks has an article in today’s Journal Star titled “The Ernie Factor”. I’m not really sure what her purpose was. I think she was trying to build understanding of the Unicameral’s reviled enigma. Instead, I think she just provided more ammunition for the majority of Nebraskans, the ones who voted for term limits primarily to give Ernie the boot. Folks like Jim E. McLaughlin:

I’ll admit I voted for term limits basically because of one person and his antics. I’m sure it will be no surprise to many when I say it’s Ernie Chambers.


Will Nebraska lose some experienced senators? Of course, but this “career politician” needs to see the door ASAP.

Jim E. McLaughlin, Lincoln

Not that Senator Chambers is helping his own cause, of course. His actions and comments this session have, as they so often have over the years, been at times paranoid, hate-filled, and even unapologetically bigoted. One of Chambers’ biggest weaknesses is his willingness to flaunt his power. He is a power-tripper. Worse, he is aware of his power not only over the Unicameral, but over Nebraskans generally. He speaks and acts in ways that often seemed designed specifically to get himself airtime across the state. He is an egomaniac.

I respect Ernie Chambers’ intellect, his legislative prowess, his adherence to his principles, and his willingness and ability to slow or even halt the legislative process. Those are all good things—even the latter. (Especially the latter.) But boy, I loathe the guy as a man. He is stained by so many of the same sins he calls out in others. Ernie Chambers is Nebraska’s Jerry Falwell.

Back to the Jim McLaughlins of the state. Where I differ from them is my appreciation of the imperfections of democracy as features, not bugs. I think it is healthy for society that, for example, Ernie Chambers’ constituents can elect him over and over if they like, and I don’t get a say. I don’t want a say. I don’t want a say because I don’t want his constituents to have a say about my representative.

There are other reasons Nebraskans voted for term limits, of course. It would be disingenuous of me to imply that everybody who voted for term limits did so primarily to boot Ernie Chambers out of office. But most of those reasons are, in a word, poor. It took something extra—the Ernie factor—to push the vote over 50%.

Ernie Chambers has taught Nebraska a lot over the past three decades, and on the whole, he has helped the Unicameral pass better laws. For that I thank him. As for the rest of the Ernie package? Well, let’s just say I won’t be inviting him to dinner any time soon.

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The Comments

D.M.B. March 12, 2006 at 10:32pm

I used to loathe earnie.  I thought he was a thorn in the side of the Nebraska legislature.  granted I didn’t know a whole lot about him but everything I saw, it always seemed like he was hurting the process more than helping it.  Of course term limits were passed because of earnie.  I’ve changed though.  Over the years I’ve come to see that earnie fights for the little people.  He fights for those who don’t have a voice.  Look at the district he represents?  Probably the poorest neighborhood in all of omaha and they have probably the single most influential voice in all of state politics.

Mr. T March 12, 2006 at 10:34pm

What did he say that was “unapolegetically bigoted”? Unrelated - Wow! Hawks just won Big Ten championship.

Mr. Wilson March 13, 2006 at 2:39pm

<em>What did he say that was

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