Time for Republicans to define themselves

After recent weeks of unconscionable behavior by President Trump and Republican leaders in Washington, more than a few Nevada Republicans are considering their options. These are people whose political views are more conservative than liberal, who lean more toward personal responsibility than government action but who can no longer tolerate a party led by an unqualified president suffering from extreme narcissism, a bully with the emotional stability of a child. For many, the Republicans’ obsession with depriving tens of millions of Americans of their access to basic health care has become the tipping point.

These frustrated Republicans have taken some comfort from Nevada’s governor who has become more and more moderate as Trump and his acolytes, including just-fired Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, have gone further off the rails than anyone’s wildest expectation. Seriously, a year ago could you imagine a President of our country declaring, “That White House is a real dump”? And that disrespectful comment pales in comparison to “the Mooch’s” vulgar rant about his colleagues.

I’ve had serious differences with Gov. Sandoval over the years, especially regarding his enthusiasm for awarding our taxes to greedy billionaires and corporations who hardly need the help. But Sandoval is a good example of a Republican who has quietly and effectively resisted Trump and national Republican leadership and for the right reasons. Certainly as the first Republican governor to embrace Obamacare, he enabled hundreds of thousands of Nevadans to have access to Medicaid when other governors left the money on the table and their people without health care. By expanding Medicaid, Sandoval also protected the state’s hospitals, especially in rural Nevada, and added significant numbers of jobs to the health care workforce.

Sandoval, guided ably by his chief of staff and human services expert Mike Willden, has firmly stood with Nevadans during the most recent effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act, and has done his best to persuade our U.S. Senator Dean Heller to do the same, albeit unsuccessfully. And when Trump impulsively declared transgender military personnel could no longer serve their country, Sandoval quickly reacted to the president’s tweet by announcing that policy would not be implemented in the Nevada National Guard unless he received direct orders from the Pentagon.

Trump’s antics are making everyone weary. The Boy Scouts of America had to apologize to parents who were offended by grotesquely inappropriate political remarks from President Trump at their jamboree. When Trump told the Wall Street Journal he “got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech ever made to them,” the Boy Scouts denied making the call.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police firmly denounced Trump’s recent speech to law enforcement officers encouraging them not to be “too nice” to suspects. The president’s comments were later minimized as a joke, but when many officers cheered his remarks, the nation cringed.

Last week, Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake released his new book, Conscience of a Conservative, and called upon other members of his party to denounce Trump. He wrote, “To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial.” The book was panned by other Republicans in Congress who hinted at Flake’s opportunism since he’s facing a primary election next year, and Trump is itching to back his opponent.

Flake wrote, “I feel compelled to declare: This is not who we are. Too often, we observe the unfolding drama along with the rest of the country, passively, all but saying, ’Someone should do something!’ without seeming to realize that that someone is us.”

Nevada’s Republicans must decide who it is they truly are. We’ll be waiting.