Heller loses his way

Once upon a time, politicians were afraid to brazenly lie in public, rightly expecting to be chastised for their mistruths and subsequently punished at the ballot box. There were always dishonest people, but if their character was poor, at least their lies were not as obvious. Then, the era of Trump arrived.

Nevada’s U.S. Senator Dean Heller exemplifies the evolution of a politician in the Trumpian age from mediocrity to sheer mendacity and cowardice.

His transformation from reasonable middle-of-the-road politician to a stand-for-nothing empty suit has been evident for quite a while. Although I was in the camp that believed he’d probably not file for re-election, he proved me wrong, quietly filing his paperwork late on a Friday afternoon, after announcing he planned to file with fanfare on the upcoming Monday, searching for free media attention to kick-start his doomed campaign.

What changed? After reading a story in Politico that Friday about a speech Heller gave to a private group where his lies were particularly outrageous and insulting, protesters decided to picket his filing, something that is rarely, if ever, done in Nevada. A social media campaign began using the hashtag “Don’t Do It Dean,” and activists began mobilizing to demonstrate their lack of support for another six years of representation by Heller. Instead of facing the protesters and having to watch that confrontation on an endless loop on television and social media, Heller changed his filing plans with no notice.

The Politico story revealed an unplugged Heller who resembles the president more each day, his remarks reflecting a dangerous divorce from reality and clear thinking. One especially egregious quote from Heller’s speech about immigration reform could easily have been uttered by Trump, as he claimed “Republicans want illegal immigrants to work but not vote. Democrats want them not to work, but to vote. Think about that for a minute. That’s why we can’t come together on a solution for this.”

Way to tell a whopper, Dean, although it’s true that Republicans are obsessed with undocumented workers somehow finding a way to penetrate the voting system despite zero evidence that it occurs on any organized basis. These workers are focused on securing a better life for their families, just like most immigrant families, including our own ancestors. The last thing on their minds is drawing attention to themselves by trying to commit voter fraud.

The idea that Democrats want undocumented people to vote but not work is stunning for its ridiculous premise that only a right-wing provocateur could imagine in his wildest, drug-induced dream. It makes no sense. It makes you wonder about Heller’s ability to discern truth from lies. It forces you to recognize his lack of character.

On his Facebook page, Heller posted the usual pablum about filing for re-election “to make sure our country continues heading in the right direction,” although most Nevada voters hardly agree. The comments section is full of reasons why Heller has become unacceptable to so many of his constituents, with Heller receiving the same level of vitriol from the Republican base as he does from Democrats, who object to his attempts “to repeal the ACA trying to deprive tens of millions of health insurance, give huge tax breaks to the wealthy and international corporations owned by the wealthy and requiring the Treasury to borrow 1.5 trillion dollars to be repaid by our grandchildren.”

A typical Republican comment? “There is no way I will vote for a Never Trumper and many more feel the same way. You sold out the Nevada people who elected you.”

One person, however, summed it up perfectly for both sides, stating “Just say “Heller NO!” That is really all that is left to be said.