Moderates of all stripes should vote

Moderate Republicans have gone the way of dinosaurs and eight-track tapes, if pollsters and talking heads on the radical right are to be believed. There was another time, back in the late 1980s, when the death of the “liberal Democrat” was proclaimed with similar conviction. Problem is, when the fringe gets sick of political wrangling, they activate and flock to the polls, building disproportionate power. When moderates are frustrated, they avoid voting altogether.

Moderate Republicans, I know you’re out there. This is it guys, time to rally and get thee to a polling station, right now in this last week of primary voting. Nevada needs you.

Boy howdy, does it ever. We have a slew of real crazies flocking to take over the state and to represent it in Congress. The political fad of the day is the fight to determine “real” conservatives from those “in name only,” as in California candidate Carly Fiorina’s surreal “sheep” ad (“Fiscal Conservative In Name Only”).

“I know a real conservative when I see one,” said singer Pat Boone when he endorsed Sharron Angle. But for the most part what constitutes “real” conservatism in the media these days are a handful of hot-button issues that play to the gullible public’s emotions rather than reason and will hamstring the candidate’s ability to legislate. The no-tax stance is a leading criteria for “real” conservatism—one that is largely responsible for Nevada’s current economic plight. Other hot-button topics that the far right calls “real” conservatism these days include supporting Arizona’s immigration laws (an enormous expansion of law enforcement’s [i.e. the government] power to stop and search ordinary people), opposition to health-care reform, and that old standby, abortion.

These positions are not, actually, conservative. Conservative literally means support for traditional ways of doing things. Conservatives in Nevada have traditionally supported institutions like education, the arts, and the kinds of environmental conservation necessary to keep hunting, fishing, and ranching viable. Some of the positions adopted by modern right-wing candidates deeply contradict the fears that motivate their constituents. A lot is heard from the right about the government invading our privacy, our homes and so forth, and yet, they support the kind of legislation in Arizona that gives the government precisely that kind of power. And several of these positions—namely, opposition to all taxes and health care—only benefit the very rich at the profound expense of the very hard-working people who tend to rally around the “real conservative” banner.

So, moderate Republicans, please. Choose your candidates wisely, then give us some good material to choose from for the fall election. Make this a real contest, not a right-wing media mashup.

As for my fellow Democrats, I know it looks like you could sit this one out, but don’t. We have a lot of very strong local candidates for the state legislature who need your support to keep up the good fight. Next year’s biennium will be a critical one for our state, with a projected budget shortfall of $2-3 billion. It is a crisis that calls for very strong leadership and the ability to overhaul the state’s revenue-generating mechanisms. As we saw during the “special” session, lobbyists for the status quo are powerful, entrenched, and fully vested in keeping things as is.

To moderates of all stripes, please get out and vote. We are the majority, both in this state and in this country, but our apathy is allowing extremists on both sides to take over not only political discourse, but policy-making as well.