Fight for a new Nevada

Bob Fulkerson is state director for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. PLAN’s offices are at 821 Riverside Drive, in Reno. Call 348-7557 or check them out at

Steve Sebelius, former Las Vegas City Life editor and current Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist, reminds us that Gov. Brian Sandoval keeps repeating, “We will make Nevada Nevada again.” And at the Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas last week, he again used the phrase, adding, “I think you know what that means.”

Most of us have no idea what it means.

Does it mean a return to the Jim Crow days of segregated lunch counters? Or to a more recent time, when there were no shelters for battered women?

Does he want us to go way back when Nevada Territory was governed by real men like Major William Ormsby, who moonlighted for William Vanderbuilt in Nicaragua and helped install William Walker as president of that country in the first and most successful manifestation of U.S. imperialism in Central America? After Ormsby left Nicaragua, he came to Northern Nevada to help lead the Army’s near-genocidal wars against the Paiute and Washo people here. (He was one tough bastard, supposedly taking three arrows at the Battle of Pyramid Lake before dying there. See Ferol Egan’s Sand in a Whirlwind.)

Make Nevada Nevada again: When we blindly worshipped the most repugnant, violent and greedy business leaders like William Clark (namesake of Clark County), whose mansions and other fortunes depended on his efforts to defeat the nominal natural resource reforms proposed by Gifford Pinchot, John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt? (See Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn.)

Make Nevada Nevada again: When state leaders sanctioned above-ground nuclear weapons testing in spite of known cancer-causing health effects in the name of money and “national security”?

Make Nevada Nevada again: When Bugsy Siegel and the mob ran rampant, greasing palms of elected leaders to get their way?

Make Nevada Nevada again: I have a feeling he means returning to a nostalgic past when state leaders had a “can-do” spirit of problem solving, but not a time when even conservative Republicans like Lou Bergevin introduced tax increases to solve revenue problems.

The Nevada many of us want to make has never existed. It is a Nevada where kids from northeast Reno or west Las Vegas have the same opportunity for education as the kids from Caughlin Ranch or Green Valley. A Nevada where the governor prioritizes a family’s economic security over the obscene profits of giant, largely foreign-owned gold mining companies and other mega-corporations. A Nevada that accords all of its people equal dignity and equal worth.

That’s the Nevada we’re fighting for. It has never existed, so there’s no going back.