The sounds of silence

One of the great things about living in a state that’s represented by Harry Reid, majority leader of the U.S. Senate, is that we get benefits that other states don’t get. He’s a powerful guy with a long view of things, and he often gets what he wants.

Take next month’s presidential caucus. It was at Reid’s encouragement that our caucus date was moved up. The idea behind the move was good: The United States needed a state that was a little less whitebread and a little less Eastern than Iowa or New Hampshire to help develop the issues that would partially decide which of those worthy presidential candidates would take the helm of this country.

After a no-holds-barred realignment of the national caucus and primary system, the game was on. The national media, unable to fathom that the election was fundamentally changed, leapt to cover the races the way they always have. We might as well not have moved any of the caucuses because the mainstream media once again doggedly chased the issueless stories that play well on front pages and network and cable television.

And those ovine candidates went right along. Most did not develop policies that would allow us in Nevada, or in the West, for that matter, to determine who the best leader of our country would be. They did develop soundbites, and when the average citizen goes to national media databases to determine who stands for what, all they get is clues—off-the-cuff remarks—made in speeches or debates that may or may not illuminate how the candidate actually feels about the nuts-and-bolts issues that a good manager will have to understand in order to run this country efficiently.

So, here we are. We know Rudy Giuliani had an affair and questionably used funds to protect his mistress’ life while mayor. We know Ron Paul has a great grassroots organization. We know Mike Huckabee lost 100 pounds and is perfectly willing to incite religious hatred against Mormons by misstating LDS doctrine. We know Fred Thompson was an actor whose ego-driven campaign stalled after his incredibly late entry. Blah, blah, blah. 9-11, 9-11, 9-11. Illegal immigration, illegal immigration, illegal immigration.

Irrelevance, hatred, fear—whatever, we’d loathe to see anyone try a new campaign formula.

Here’s what we don’t know about Rudy Giuliani, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo: The guidelines their administration would apply in deciding water transfers in the West; whether they would recommend changes in federal policy on grazing fees; whether they would recommend changes in the Mining Law of 1872 and what those changes might entail; or their official positions on Yucca Mountain.

Two Western candidates—Mitt Romney and John McCain—did have some answers for us.

Only two out of eight GOP candidates cared enough about the voters of Northern Nevada, or the West for that matter, to state their positions on regional issues. From this silence, we can only draw a couple of possible conclusions. First, the candidate is not a good enough manager to have someone in place to develop and disseminate policies to local media and voters. Second, the candidate’s actual views on these issues would tend to make citizens vote for other candidates; in other words, they didn’t answer our questions because they don’t want voters to know what they actually stand for.