I am writing in response to Mr. Muth’s running commentary regarding Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party, and what constitutes a Conservative, as well as his observation of moderate Republicans. I have a counterpoint, and I believe that you are supporting policies that have no basis in fiscal conservatism.
First, you are characterizing Ronald Reagan as a far right politician. He was not. He was about as moderate as they come, with solid conservative values, and was exactly what was needed by the country in the time period. If he was a far right conservative, he would have never crossed the aisle to get Democrat support for anything. Yet, most of the legislation that he passed was with the help of Democrats.
Believe it or not, Reagan would be turning over in his grave the way Tea Party Republicans throw around his name. For example, look what happened when Reaganomics was applied to Governor Brownback’s Kansas government without the issue of inflation. Their entire budget nearly fell apart by $1.1 billion, and includes the slowest economic growth in the nation.
Second, you are wildly out of touch with what a conservative in Nevada is. I mean let’s look at taxes and where that money has been earmarked under Conservative stewardship. First and foremost: Republicans fought tooth and nail to ensure that the citizens of Nevada have no say in the Commerce Tax. I mean Ellison, Sandoval, Knecht, nearly all of the state elected and local Republicans touted around town and the state to defeat the tax when it was being put on the referendum, then the following year passed the same tax with caveat that citizens no longer can vote on an increase or not — effectively cutting off their constituents out of voting on whether we want more taxes or not.
Where did all the money from the Commerce tax go? Education. Nearly every single legislative session in the last decade there has been an increase in funding to education, including under Republican stewardship in 2013 and 2015, yet our scores have never gotten better. Even all the revenue collected from marijuana sales is going to education. So, the answer from the current party establishment is to throw more and more money at a problem that won’t be fixed easily. Why are we not discussing a more comprehensive education reform legislation?
Astonishingly, Republicans did come up with a way to reform the education system. Yet, the Nevada Republican Party came up with Education Savings Accounts. That is the best that you could come up with? The Republican Party has a chance to usurp an entire voting block from the Democrats for the Republican Party (the teachers union), and the party botched it with education savings accounts. Why not begin looking at a reformation from the teacher’s perspective not the administrators? Why not look at reforming mandatory textbook laws, when textbooks are no longer used? Still not convinced? The education savings accounts don’t even stick to Reagan style conservativism. You are making government bigger with more moving parts, and increase its funding on top of that. How does this policy fit with “true” conservative practices that you are high and mighty about, Mr. Muth?
Which brings me to a further point of Nevada demographics, the Republican Party in Nevada will have to moderate itself in state elections. Period. I mean if you really want to primary Senator Heller or any other moderate Republican up for election with a Tea Party Conservative, the Tea Party Conservative might win the Primary, but he will get demolished in the General Election.
Need further proof? Let’s look at the 2016 election results in the state of Nevada. Republicans held the State House and Senate, as well as four federal delegation spots prior to the 2016 election. Yet, Republicans got destroyed both in the state and federally. While, the rest of the country went conservative, Nevada most definitely went liberal.
Many of you will claim that this is just Las Vegas carrying the vote. I argue that Nevada is the most liberal state in the Union. For example, Nevada has legal gambling 24 hours a day, alcohol available 24 hours a day, prostitution, and recreational marijuana. Therefore, continuing to fight social battles that were settled 40 to 50 years ago will no longer get you the moderate Democrat vote you need to be elected through a statewide election.
The party make-up in Nevada is still nearly 50/50 to both Democrats and Republicans. Which points to me that most moderate Republicans voters are voting Democrat, because most of the current far right policy proposals are truly awful, and do not benefit anyone in the short term or long term. They aren’t even grounded in Conservative principals.
For example, Amodei’s and Dahl’s HB 1484. The backers of this policy will tell you time after time that they are not selling any land, and that this policy will pay for itself. Yet, what they won’t tell you is that the initial 7.2 million acres is disposable land (lands along the highway and freeway systems) that will be sold at $1,000 an acre (a hope, but since it’s federal legislation it will be a “fair market value”). However, you will not get any of the rights that are associated with the land (water, mineral, etc.). So, you are paying royalties to the state government to fund their management program.
Not to mention, the state government does not have the infrastructure in place to take on the management of this new land or any policy in place to deal with any issues that will potentially arise. Coupled with the fact that the State of Nevada will pick up the tab on the PILT money that is taken away when the land is sold. It is a fake usage of Reagan for a policy that makes the state government larger, more cumbersome and has little benefit long-term than being able to “voice” your opinion to a representative that still MIGHT act on your opinion.
The Republican Party allowed over 600 bill drafts to become law in the 2017 session. 600 bills in 4 months, folks. That points to me that the Republicans in office, when in the minority, are not reaching across the aisle to build solid coalitions with moderate Democrats against easily defeated legislation, or looking to gain support for bills that are of the utmost importance to rural Nevada, like the airport bill. Essentially, as long as we (as a constituency) continue to elect Tea Party Conservatives to the Nevada Legislature, we will continue to have no discourse, and be ruled at the hand of Las Vegas.
Thus, the underlying point for Nevada’s Conservative Party is this: The Republican Party needs to moderate itself to have a shot at winning state-wide elections, and in doing so become a true opposition party to the Democrats. This will also lead to an increase in the base to include moderate Democrats and those unaffiliated with parties. We do not have to agree with Democrats, but we need to be able to reach a consensus between the parties to ensure that the more liberal folks in Las Vegas don’t rule us with an iron fist, and truly be a party of fiscal conservatives.