Category Archives: Nevada politics

Post Hansen Kerfuffle in Nevada Legislature

Hansen Sometimes it’s your friends.  In the case of Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-NV32) it’s friends and some relatives. 

“John Wagner, the chairman of Nevada Independent American Party, which was founded by Ira Hansen’s father, Daniel Hansen, defended Ira Hansen Sunday and said he should not resign the speakership.  Wagner defended Hansen for a column the assemblyman wrote about civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“King’s private life was trashy at best,” Hansen wrote in a column for the Tribune. “King Jr. is as low as it gets, a hypocrite, a liar, a phony, and a fraud.” That does not make Hansen a racist, Wagner said.  “And I suppose if you criticize Jessie Jackson or if you criticize Al Sharpton, does that make you a racist today?” Wagner said.”  [RGJ]

Since when?  Let’s not conflate racism with ideological differences. Racism has a clear definition: “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”    It’s entirely possible to criticize Reverend Jackson, or Reverend Sharpton without reference to their “innate inferiority,”  However, it’s impossible to dodge the racism inherent in the acceptance of the smear campaign to discredit Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and to discredit the modern civil rights movement as an attack on white supremacy.

“The problem is that racism isn’t reducible to “different treatment.” Since if it is, measures to ameliorate racial inequality—like the Voting Rights Act—would be as “racist” as the policies that necessitated them. No, racism is better understood as white supremacy—anything that furthers a broad hierarchy of racist inequity, where whites possess the greatest share of power, respect, and resources, and blacks the least.” [Slate]

The expression of this concept is illustrated by Assemblyman Hansen in one of his columns:

“He wrote that African-Americans are insufficiently grateful for being given their freedom: “The lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to.” [NNR]

Lack of gratitude?  Deliberate ignoring?  How might that “gratitude” be expressed in a manner which would please Mr. Hansen?  Should it be that African Americans would “know their place” and remain ‘gratefully’ in it all the while thanking the White Masters for the ‘privilege’ of being human? Racism doesn’t get more blatant than in Mr. Hansen’s expression.  Assemblyman Hansen seems not to have traveled too far from his roots, from the Nevada Independent American Party, founded by his father, and recently adopted by none other than outlaw rancher Cliven Bundy. [Fox]

If the Nevada Republican Party leadership is uncomfortable with having a blatant racist in the Assembly speaker’s chair – who might be available?

Names such as Michele “Pistol Packing Mama” Fiore, of the Bundy Ranch Epic have emerged, along with those of Paul Anderson,  John Hambrick, and  Wes Duncan. [RGJ]

Fiore may be just a little too close to the Bundy Ranch business, which leads to thoughts of Cliven Bundy explaining why African Americans were better off as slaves, which leads the Nevada GOP right back to where it started with Assemblyman Hansen’s “ungrateful” scoundrels who won’t apologize for the modern civil rights movement.

Hambrick is a lesser known member of the Assembly representing District 2 (Summerlin) in Carson City.  His major contributors are the gaming industry, including the Sands, real estate interests and general contractors. [InfExp]  During the 2013 legislative session he was one of the co-sponsors of SB 520, section 14 of which provided criminal and civil immunity for a person who does not request a background check for a firearm sale – for “any act or omission that was taken in good faith and without malicious intent.”  AB 373, also sponsored by Hambrick, established a tax credit for donations to a school tuition organization (BDR 34-716).  In short, Hambrick has been a loyal, gun supporting, contractor supporting, private school supporting, and vote suppression supporting Republican regular.

Wesley Duncan, has proposed amending the state constitution to allow voucher schools, enacting the “Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” and enacting SB 378 from the last session, the Nevada Liberty Preservation Act.  This last item comes from the Right Wing Fever Swamp which at one point was Outraged! about two sections of the National Defense Authorization Act which allowed for the capture and detention of terrorists. The radical right was convinced the Obama Administration was about to round up the citizenry and open the detention camps. 

Assemblyman Paul Anderson has wanted the speakership before, and still wants it now.   He, too packs his NRA credentials on his sleeve, signing on to the Assembly support for SB 223AN ACT relating to concealed firearms; authorizing employees of the Nevada System of Higher Education or a private or public school who hold permits to carry concealed firearms to carry concealed firearms on school property under certain circumstances; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”  As if what we need are more guns on more school campuses.  He, too, is a school privatization advocate.

The trick for the Assembly Republicans will be to find a speaker who doesn’t have a history of Fever Swamp Activity, who will be amenable to the ALEC program of corporate support, and who can convince the leadership that he or she won’t prove to be too big an embarrassment?

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Filed under Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics, racism

Ira Hansen: Hapless Victim?

Victim Card “For the greater good of the State of Nevada and the cause I support it is necessary for me to withdraw as Speaker Designee. The tens of thousands of people who both read my columns and listened to my radio shows through two decades in the media know this has been a carefully orchestrated attack to remove a conservative Republican from a major leadership role in State government. The deliberate character assassination and the politics of personal destruction have totally distorted my views and record.” Ira Hansen (R-NVA39) [RGJ]

Merciful Heavens what a whine!  Better still, it has all the hallmarks of a classic Victim Card – there’s the “carefully orchestrated attack” line, and the “deliberate character assassination” line, and finally the “politics of personal destruction” canard.   All the ingredients deemed necessary to include in a perfect recipe for a Great White Whine.

An additional element which makes Hansen’s announcement even more interesting is that, as usual, none of the GOP powers-that-be actually called for his resignation:

“Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, and state Sen Greg Brower, R-Reno, joined the GOP leadership choir in condemning Hansen’s views Friday. None of them, including Sandoval Heller or any prominent Nevada Democrat, have called for Hansen’s ouster.” [RGJ]

This certainly isn’t the first instance in which a Nevada Republican has strayed into the weeds of the Neo-Confederacy.  Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (R-NV39) was ever so willing to vote in favor of slavery, if that’s what his constituents wanted him to do. [LVSun 2013]  Gee whiz, he just couldn’t fathom how anyone might have mis-interpreted his words.  Wheeler remains in the Assembly.  Congressman elect Cresent Hardy opined, that GOP candidate Romney was right about those 47% “takers,” although neither the statistics or the context substantiate the claim [LVRJ] and, no, SNAP benefit recipients aren’t driving their Escalades down to the food pantry – a riff on the Cliven Bundy assertion about African Americans in Clark County – who would be “better off” learning to pick cotton.  Hardy will take his seat in the Tea Party Caucus in January.  What’s different now?

Just perhaps the reason Mr. Hansen faced such powerful opposition was not for some ill-timed, ill-advised, and ill-meaning commentary but because his was predicated on a history of Limbaugh Wanna Be rhetoric which if dribbled out over time threatened to box the Nevada GOP into its already convenient container. Consider the support Mr. Hansen received from one conservative activist:

“Hansen has his supporters. Conservatives in the Nevada GOP are rushing to his aid even as party leaders are condemning Hansen’s comments.

“Why should any Republicans give a damn about what the NAACP thinks?” said conservative activist Chuck Muth of Las Vegas. “They don’t vote for our candidates. That is not who our base is.” [RGJ]

Nothing says Old White Guys quite so succinctly.  

Assemblyman Hansen represents a district (32) which is predominantly white (83.7% compared to the statewide 73.5%), with a mode household income between $50,000 and $75,000, and has a 48.2% to 29.7% Republican registration edge. [NVLeg pdf]  These are people who quite possibly don’t care what the NAACP thinks, or what any other ethnic or minority population might think either.   Mr. Hansen’s strength in Assembly District 39, his appeal to Old White Guys disgruntled with the possibility of women, members of the Hispanic/Latino community, and African Americans taking positions of political, economic, and social power, is also a fatal weakness when dealing with a state in which the African American population is 8% (unlike the 1.4% in the district) and 26.1% Hispanic or Latino compared to the 17.4% in the district.  The statewide figures, which are almost irrelevant for the local campaigns, could be deadly when placed in a statewide context.

Assemblyman Wheeler (NV32) may continue to represent his constituents, so long as he doesn’t commit another gaffe of the first water, and Congressman Hardy may take his place in the Gohmert Caucus, so long as he keeps his head down and doesn’t make a pilgrimage to the Bundy Ranch.  However, when there’s the prospect of inflammatory opinion columns ranging from 1994 to 2010 – every attempt at outreach beyond the Old White Guys Box by the Republicans can be countered by the Top Ten Latest Revealed Quotes from the pen and pixels of Mr. Hansen.

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Ira Hansen Becomes a National Embarrassment

Ira Hansen

Oh my, merely a few hours after his selection as the Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly Ira Hansen (R-NVA32) made national headlines – mostly for all those “interesting”  columns he wrote between 1994 and 2010. [Wonkette]  Mr. Hansen has gathered attention to himself from Think Progress, and The Huffington Post, and the Atlantic, and Talking Points Memo, and Media-ite.   Mr. Hansen, who won his Assembly seat with  71.96% of the vote in the 2014 election, [NVSoS] offered a formulaic apology:

“I am deeply sorry that comments I have made in the past have offended many Nevadans. It is unfortunate that these comments, made almost 20 years ago as a newspaper columnist and talk radio host, have been taken out of context and are being portrayed as intentionally hurtful and disrespectful. These comments were meant to be purposely provocative in various political, cultural and religious views. I have the utmost respect for all people without regard to race, gender, religious or political beliefs.” [RGJ]

This statement is almost pure Limbaugh.  “I’m sorry IF you were offended.” Of course people were offended – his comments were intrinsically, blatantly, offensive.

The comments were made long ago,”  And, what have you said or done since, say,  last Wednesday to demonstrate you’ve cleaned up your act since?

And, “they were taken out of context…” In what context would these have been appropriate comments in the 21st century – or the 19th for that matter? Doesn’t that “taken out of context” refrain ever get old and hirsute?

And, “the comments were purposefully provocative,” PLEASE! Of course, and Limbaugh was only kidding?  Just trying to get a rise out of your audience?  Those right wing hate speech, hate radio, pack of bigots, racists, and fringe wingers, who call in to shows that re-enforce their own bigotry, racism, and homophobia?

And, Mr. Hansen, if you’d had any respect for non-white people, members of the LBGT community, members of the Hispanic/Latino community, you’d not have made the comments in the first place.

And, he ends his non-apology apology on the common hackneyed note:

“I am committed to showing that actions are much louder than words and my office will always have an open door to all backgrounds and political viewpoints. This will not distract us from finding solutions to building a brighter and more prosperous Nevada.” [RGJ]

Right,  the door’s open.  We’re supposed to believe that the Tea Party Darling who bested a Party Regular (no raving moderate himself, Pat Hickey) for the Speakership doesn’t believe in the privatization of any public activity in which someone can make a buck, and maintains overtly racist, bigoted, beliefs, is going to lead us to the Promised Land of whatever…

However, this isn’t Grandpa’s Republican Party anymore.  This is the Party of Cliven Bundy, [Reuters] of Jim “I’d vote for slavery if my constituents wanted it” Wheeler, [LVSun] of Cresent “The BLM doesn’t have the right to enforce federal laws on federal land” Hardy. [LVRJ]  This is the Republican Party in Nevada which adopted a Tea Party Platform at its 2014 convention. [RenoNewsR

There’s one Nevada Republican who’s embarrassed – our Striving For A Centrist Image Senator Dean Heller:

“Assemblyman Hansen’s past comments and positions on race, religion, and gender that have recently been reported give me great concern. These comments were insensitive, wrong, and extremely offensive and insulting. Statements like these do not have a place in public discourse.” [EDFP]

Yes, Senator Heller is concerned – however, where was Senator Heller’s concern when his state party adopted the Tea Party platform, promoted the election of Wheeler, and the election of Hardy?  The “moderates” were noticeably silent before the 2014 elections, and before the selection of the Assembly Speaker – and now that the cat has slipped the bag they are “concerned,” nay “greatly concerned.”

In the immortal words of Meryl Streep’s character in the 1992 comedy “Death Becomes Her,” “Now a Warning?”

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Amodei and Heck Do It Again!

Pollution air In case you missed it —  amidst all the publicity about the pipeline vote – the House of Representatives has again demonstrated its proclivity to promote the interests of corporate  exploiters and polluters (read — Koch Brothers):

“The House voted 229-191 to pass H.R. 1422, which would change the rules for appointing members to the Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group that gives scientific advice to the EPA Administrator. Also called the Science Advisory Board Reform Act, the bill would make it easier for scientists with financial ties to corporations to serve on the SAB, prohibit independent scientists from talking about their own research on the board, and make it more difficult for scientists who have applied for grants from the EPA to join the board.” [TP]

How nice for the Koch Brothers and the multi-national corporations which are annoyed by having to discuss such matters as global climate change, air pollution, and other topics related to whether or not our grandchildren will inherit a viable planet.

So, what did Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) do for the grandchildren?  He voted in favor of the Ignore The Science Bill.  Representatives Heck (R-NV3) and Amodei voted in favor of the bill on Roll Call 525.   Representatives Horsford (D-NV4) and Titus (D-NV1) thought enough of the kidlets to vote against this sop to multinational corporations. But wait! There’s more.

The House also passed H.R. 4795 – yet another pro-pollution bill:

“The Clean Air Act requires major new or expanding sources of air pollution to obtain permits with pollution limits before the facilities start construction.  These preconstruction permits ensure that a new or expanded facility will not increase local air pollution to levels that violate national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets for six principal air pollutants.  When EPA updates each air quality standard to reflect the latest science, permit applicants have to meet the new, more protective standard and show their emissions will not harm public health.

H.R. 4795, introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), creates a loophole in this process.  The bill establishes imprecise procedural requirements for EPA to follow after setting a new air quality standard.  If EPA does not meet those requirements, then a new or expanding facility can apply for a preconstruction permit based on the old air quality standard, which is not adequate to protect public health.  In effect, this bill could give new sources of pollution “amnesty” from new science-based air quality standards.”  [DEC]

Got that?  If Spew & Blow Corp. doesn’t like the new air quality standards, it can use the Scalise Loophole to get around them.  How convenient.  And what did our Representatives do?  The two Republicans (Heck and Amodei) voted for the “Promoting New Manufacturing Act” – the title should really have been the “Promoting More Pollution Act of 2014.”   Horsford and Titus both voted against this travesty of a bill.

Could we have any better demonstration of how closely Congressional Republicans, including our Congressional Republicans, are tied to the Koch Brothers?

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President Rides the Fourth Rail

obama The President of the United States will give a major speech tonight about immigration policy which may make some conservative Republican heads explode – which they were probably going to do anyway.  The House of Representatives has been sitting on a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (S. 744) since June 27, 2013; a bill passage which provided a photo-op for Senators McCain and Schumer cheering the bipartisan effort. [Politico] The widely touted bill went to the Republican controlled House in which politics took precedence over policy.  The GOP objected, and the leadership said it wanted to take up the measures in a piece-meal fashion, but none of the 19 related bills emerged from House committees. [Congress] Finally, it became relatively obvious to all, except those who would not see, that the Congress had no intention of voting on any immigration policy reform bill during this session of Congress.  So, what’s so dodgy about the issue?

One problem for the Republican majority leadership in the House came from an ideological split in their own membership – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out forcefully in favor of S. 744.  The radio broadcasts from the right wing screamed “amnesty!”  House Speaker John Boehner was caught between two wings of the GOP, in its internecine conflict between commercial and financial interests and the Tea Party ultra-nationalists. He never brought the bill to the floor – or any of the others.

The failure to act on S. 744 offered cover for Representatives such as Joe Heck (R-NV3) who was free to say almost anything on immigration policy without having to adopt the provisions of a Republican bill, drafting a bill of his own, or taking a specific stance against the Senate version.  The failure also allowed the ultra-right wing Tea Party members to ‘valiantly’ oppose ‘amnesty,’ in its current meaning – any reform of the immigration policy which allows a pathway to U.S. citizenship.  Why does this create such a clamor from the right wing?

The Toxic Mix

It’s easy to spot the cornerstone of opposition from Tea Party types to any form of immigration policy reform, and the rock-like intransigence is made of up that usual conglomeration of bigotry, racism, and fear.  At a purely political level it’s simply a chant “They (Democrats) want amnesty just to get votes.”   This is an interesting charge because there isn’t a political party which ever existed for more than three minutes anywhere that wasn’t interested in increasing its base. Using this frame of reference how might we logically characterize vote suppression tactics and strategies from the Republicans which diminish the voting of ethnic minorities?  “They just want to have just their own people voting?”

Reverting to the right wing scare machine for a moment, the commentators and pundits of Hate Radio have been pounding their message since Reagan offered amnesty to family members in 1986. [BusInsider]  (Pre-emptive arguments, such as those offered by pundit David Frum,  appear to know exactly what the President wants before he says it, and to assume that because the Simpson-Mazzoli Act didn’t solve the all problems in perpetuity, therefore any other attempt at reform won’t either.)  The right wing has been lambasted with talking points ALL of which have long been debunked. “Immigrants don’t pay taxes.”  No, they are paying taxes for services they will never receive. “Immigrants come here to get on welfare!” No, the ratio between taxes paid and services used in this country never favors the immigrant population.  “They send all their money home!”  No, not when they’re contributing about $162 billion in tax revenues to federal, state, and local governments, and not when they are paying for housing, food, clothing and other essentials.

They take American jobs!”  No, again.  That myth has been long debunked. (See also: Boston Globe)   “They don’t speak English, and don’t want to!”  Now we’re gravitating into Nativist Territory.  Within ten years of immigration most speak English well enough to sustain employment and other activities in their communities.  [IPOrg] At the anecdotal level some who claim not to have a racist bone in their entire skeleton lament the advent of Spanish language broadcast programming, and Spanish language options on the telephone – retailers and other commercial interests figured out long ago that Spanish speaking immigrants aren’t “sending all their money home,” and want to make it as easy as possible for the immigrant families to part with some into the coffers of the marketers.  None of this anti-immigrant rhetoric explains why we have more demand for English Language classes than the supply will fulfill.

When all else fails, the descendants of immigrants from the great wave of the early 20th century will passionately announce that these immigrants are “different.”  Really, perhaps in that no immigrant from Honduras is going to see a “NINA” sign (No Irish Need Apply) but the discrimination remains the same.   How conveniently we forget the anti-German rhetoric of World War I, the anti-Polish “jokes” that still have a place in the lexicon of some not-very-funny people?  Just as the Irish, the Poles, the Russians, the Jews, the Chinese, and other previous immigrants experienced discrimination and derision – the Spanish speaking immigrants from Central and South America are now getting a taste of it.   They are – different, and therefore suspect.

Are they so suspect that we must pile up the ramparts, and protect ourselves from the ‘scourge’ of un-American immigrants?  We can look at our own state.

Nevada by the numbers: According to the last Census estimate (2013) there are 2,790,136 people living in the state of Nevada, or about 24.6 people per square mile of our acres and acres of acres and acres.  9% of the population is African American, 1.6% are Native American, 8.1% are of Asian descent , 27.5% are of Hispanic or Latino descent, and 52.2% report being white “alone” (not of Hispanic or Latino descent).  19.2% of Nevada residents are foreign born.  Of those who are foreign born, as of 2010, 57.2% were from Latin America, 29.8% from Asia, 8.5% from Europe, 1.7% from Canada, 2.3% from Africa, and 0.5% from Oceania.  [UNLV pdf]   When the Census Bureau ran the numbers and published information about naturalized citizens and non-citizens in 2003, there were 2,207,575 residents of Nevada, of whom 379,885 were foreign born, or about 17%.  129,330 were naturalized citizens, and 250,555 were non-citizens, or about 11%.  [Census download]

The following chart shows the percentage of residents of Hispanic or Latino descent by county, and the percentage of county residents (who might be of any ethnic classification) who are foreign born.  [Census]

County Hispanic Foreign Born
Carson City 22.7% 11.9%
Churchill 13.2% 5.7%
Douglas 11.8% 6.0%
Elko 23.7% 9.8%
Esmeralda 18% 16%
Humboldt 25.2% 13.6%
Lander 23.5% 13.6%
Lincoln 7.2% 2.1%
Lyon 15.7% 7.4%
Mineral 10.6% 3.3%
Nye 14.1% 8.3%
Pershing 22.5% 12.6%
Storey 7.5% 4.1%
White Pine 14.8% 2.3%
Washoe 23.3% 15.1%
Clark 30.0% 21.9%

 

One of the more interesting features of this chart is the obvious fact that in NO county are all the residents of Hispanic or Latino descent foreign born; for example in Carson City, it’s impossible to have an Hispanic/Latino population of 22.7% who are all non-citizens – a subgroup constituting only 11.9% of the total population.  In Humboldt County, 25.2% of the total population is of Hispanic/Latino descent, but only 13.6% of the total county population is foreign born.  Maybe “THEY” aren’t so different after all, their children are in school – probably participating in the athletic programs; they are shopping at the supermarket; and, the odds are that they were born here.

So, if they are paying taxes, using few public services, spending money in local businesses, taking jobs few others want to perform, and learning to speak English as fast as they can … what’s the problem?  Just once I’d like to hear a right wing radio personality be absolutely completely honest — “they” are different because they aren’t white.   So, whatever the President says this evening, it will be as the wits say “A black man advocating for brown people” and this will cause the White-Wing politicians to launch their diatribes and epithets, and excuses for continuing to do nothing.

We know what people say about those who are good at making excuses? They usually aren’t very good at doing anything else.

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Filed under Immigration, Nativism, Nevada, Nevada politics

News and Notes

Jig Saw Puzzle It’s been some time since there’s been a good old fashioned aggregation post and today seems as good a time as any.  So, here goes –

In the MUST Read Department, there’s “Nevada’s Bundy Caucus” over at Crooks and Liars.  Nothing so brightens a Wednesday morning like being reminded that a soul-mate of the nefarious Cliven Bundy has been elected to the Congress of the United States.  Whack-a-doodle Doo!  To make life even more interesting – Bundy-Lovin’ Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, the Gun Totin’ Moll of the Tea Party, wants to be the Majority Leader, according to the very credible Jon Ralston.

Also in the MUST Department, The Center for American Progress has an excellent statistical piece about Veterans in America.  Did you know that there are 22 million veterans in America, and that 2.6 million are from the post 9/11 Era?  Or, that 49,933 of them are homeless?  Read On! There’s more from the Ramirez Group on homeless veterans.  One out of every three homeless men is a Vet. Unconscionable.

Take a look at Steve Sebelius’s Fun with Numbers, concerning the 2014 election in Nevada.   Notice: Nevada Progressive is shutting shop and moving to Let’s Talk Nevada. There’s a very informative post about the campaigns and elections therein.  NRDC posts an article from Common Dreams concerning the interesting voting pattern in which progressive initiatives tended to pass while progressive/Democratic candidates tended to fail.

If you’re following the debate on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, then “GOP already in lame excuse mode,” is highly recommended reading.  Wondering what happened to the bill from the Senate?  AZCentral provides a timeline, including the fact that the Senate passed the bill on June 27, 2013 – and Speaker John Boehner has not brought the bill, or any House version thereof, to the floor since.

Even if the Republicans won’t admit it, gun violence in this country is a public health issue.   However, that doesn’t mean that the GOP will stop blocking the nomination for Surgeon General, a man who believes that bullets do serious damage to human bodies – after all the Ebola ‘crisis’ was over as soon as the election returns came in from Hawaii on November 4th. If we could see the violence issue in public health terms we’d remember that on average 32 people are killed by guns every day, and another 140 are treated in the ER for gunshot wounds.  So, if the averages hold,  approximately 1,376 people have died from gunshots since October 1, 2014. From Ebola infections? 1.

Yes, the Supreme Court will take up a conservative challenge to the Affordable Care Act.  Think Progress provides a succinct summation of the challenge.   There’s obviously some more work to be done to convince the public that (1) Obamacare isn’t a Thing, it’s a collection of reforms to the way health insurance corporations do business, and (2) repealing it means serious hardships to middle income Americans, the elderly, and continued struggles of 215,000 veterans who would be greatly assisted by the expansion of Medicaid.  Someone really should pose the question to the newly elected Congressional Representatives: Do you support the troops or the health insurance corporations?  The second question ought to be: Do you want to cost those corporations all the new customers they got under the ACA provisions?

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Local Politics by the Numbers

Number Lottery Balls This is a local post, so for those who read DB for national news or analysis – or to follow the rants on the favorite house topic (economics/politics) – please hold on for a second while I play with some numbers.

Consider the information in the following table:

County Democrats Republicans Turnout %
Carson 8310 11562 60.7
Churchill 2651 6895 61.1
Douglas 4650 15491 61.9
Elko 3137 10558 55.6
Esmeralda 60 313 65.9
Eureka 98 617 74.9
Humboldt 1092 3446 69.02
Lander 378 1431 82.6
Lincoln 309 1496 60.4
Lyon 5247 14223 47.4
Mineral 367 1075 52.07
Nye 4056 10573 51.4
Pershing 442 1087 70.36
Storey 425 1137 78.3
White Pine 743 1998 63.5
Total 31965 81902  

* the registration numbers are active voters as of October 2014, turnout percentages are from the Secretary of States’ office including early, absentee, mail-in, and election day totals

The total number of active registered voters in Nevada as of the end of October 2014 was 1,213,193; the election day turnout was 20.36%; the Early Voting turnout was 21.96%; and absentee ballots made up 3.9% of the total. The total turnout was 552,380 or 45.51%. [SoSNV]

All of the rural counties showed turnout rates significantly higher than the statewide returns.  This is probably obvious, since those of us in the outback attend high school athletic events and amateur theatricals; we’re so Off Broadway they wouldn’t even know we were here.  Voting is at least a nice social event, and in General Elections there are usually some “hot” local non-partisan races.  Either things were very dull or extremely interesting in Eureka and Lander counties, their election turnout could demonstrate both.  However, there doesn’t seem to have been as much enthusiasm in Elko, Lyon, Mineral, and Nye counties. 

County Population Voting Age Registered  
Carson 54080 42723 25158 17565
Churchill 24877 18907 12240 6667
Douglas 47118 38401 29257 9144
Elko 52384 37664 18456 17362
Esmeralda 832 699 545 154
Eureka 2076 1599 880 719
Humboldt 17363 12571 6333 6238
Lander 6032 4421 2427 1994
Lincoln 5245 4075 2693 1383
Mineral 4614 3737 2738 999
Nye 42297 34387 23808 10579
Pershing 6877 5563 2292 3271
Storey 3942 3370 2433 937
White Pine 10057 7844 4431 3414

 

If we take the population, subtract the number of those the Census Bureau counts as under 18 years of age, and subtract again for foreign born persons residing in the county, we can roughly estimate the voting age population in each of the rural or suburban counties. There’s obviously some wiggle in the count because, of course, not all foreign born persons are necessarily non-citizens. However, to keep things on the low ball side of estimations, the assumption is made that all foreign born are possibly not eligible to vote.

When the voting age population is aligned with the actual number of registered active voters the difference shown in the last column are those who are of voting age, probably eligible to vote, and who have not registered to do so. The total number of people in the counties listed above who are of voting age and have not registered comes to about 63,000 souls.

Numbers are lovely. However, these don’t tell us all that much about the outcomes of elections in any predictive way – the number which might be instructive is that during the Primary Election in Nevada (2014) the turnout was 222,240 voters or approximately 19.27% of the total number of active voters statewide.  No one was particularly “energized” and they stayed that way.

What we can see from the second table is that all of the political parties in Nevada have left a significant number of “votes on the table,” and many of these are in the suburban or rural counties.

The problem for any political party is essentially to (1) pull votes from the faithful; (2) get votes off the sidelines (register voters); and (3) get voters to turn out – early, absentee, mail-in, or in person.   The 2014 general election showed that the Democrats didn’t do a particularly good job in these three essential segments.   For that matter, the low statewide turnout showed the Republicans, while successful by all accounts, didn’t really do a much better job either.

However, my interest is in the Democratic Party so here come the fractious observations.

For all the time and effort expended by a few Solid Citizens who have obviously given their all for party efforts – the structure of the Democratic Party State Central Committee indicates some valid weaknesses in the process.  It’s my understanding that each county is guaranteed at least one seat, and that a county gets 1 seat for every thousand registered party members.   Churchill County has 2651 registered Democrats and 1 seat – they couldn’t find another person?  The same question applies to Elko County, with 3589 registered Democrats and only 1 seat?  Lyon has 7823 registered Democrats and 2 seats filled…. and so it goes.

If the Democratic Party in Nevada wants to be considered a Statewide operation then it surely should provide more support for the local leadership and leadership training efforts.  And, if the state leadership is to allocate personnel and resources for rural party development then at least a significant amount of national attention should reward these efforts. To have a handful of people trying to carry the load in multiple counties is not only unconscionable it’s obviously not the best way to carry on.

Electricity is a Wonderful Thing

What the rurals DO have is an excellent base for electronic communications.  The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus has an excellent blog site.  Humboldt County Democrats maintain an updated site.  Heaven only knows what’s happened with the State Party Blog? Nor does it link directly with the NRDC or HCD sites from the Blog Page.  The Carson City Democratic Party link takes you back to the state site.  The Douglas County site links to the NRDC, and covers local events and items of interest.  Lyon County maintains a web presence, advertizes local events, but doesn’t link directly with other rural communications – clicking on the blog roll takes you nowhere.  The Nye County party has a web site, and links to the State site, the National Site, the NRDC, Blue Nevadan, Democracy for America, Nevada Stonewall Democrats, and two independent blogs, Turbokitty, and The ObamaCrat.   Here’s a thought –

What might happen if the Nevada State Democratic Party put together an updated blog roll of (1) Local Party Websites, and (2) an up to date list of Democratic, progressive, and liberal bloggers in the state?

What might happen if the Nevada State Democratic Party sent a list of updated and current Local Party websites, and a list of current independent blog sites with links which the parties and the bloggers could insert in their sidebars?  Instead of, say, relying on the parties and bloggers to try to find each other on their own?  What might happen if the NSDP looked for even more and newer means of electronic “social media” use?

What might happen if the State Democratic Party took an interest in having a web presence for every county in the state?

Avoiding Sclerotics

Allow me to take a wild flying guess that one of the issues in some rural counties  concerns the aging process; some Democrats are getting Older—and Older—and Older. And more tired, and more tired … Granted in any organization it’s nearly always 10% of the people who do 90% of the work. However, in the words of the very old business bard/mentor – if you aren’t growing you’re dying.   Another notion, which the Republicans are probably going to have to deal with sooner rather than later, is that a Party is not a monolithic creation. No one is ever going to be completely satisfied with everything.  Nothing will so advance the sclerosis of an organization quite as well as having the direction of the glacier moving toward ideological purity, of any stripe.  Avoiding the Purity Trap and the Sclerotic Trap requires getting some new hands on the deck.

From this perch in the outback, it looks as though the State Democratic Party might do well to (1) put some major resources into leadership training and (2) create an atmosphere such that the Party is perceived not merely as the delivery vehicle for election purposes but also as a coalition of those interested in democratic issues and values.  Where to find these people?

If you want to keep a person engaged give them something to do.  It’s a good business practice to give new hires increasingly larger roles in the operations; and the same is true of most political organizations.  There’s nothing wrong with starting small.  For example, what might happen if a county party leader gave a younger individual the task of going through the voter registration list or a precinct listing and creating a phone tree or contact list?  What might happen if the State Party helped with the costs involved in creating the “Can We Count On Your Vote?” contact lists? One of the more beneficial bits of advice from the Leader is “Can you find a friend to help you?”  Now, you’ve got two people for the price of one task.

The numbers in the charts above indicate some voters who aren’t registered.  Another small chore might be to have someone to conduct a “little voter registration” drive-let.”  “Can you find us three more eligible voters to register?  “Can you compile a list of people in the county who run blog sites?  Calendar sites? Special events sites?”  “Could you attend (fill in some local event) and report back to us for our web page?” 

On a heftier scale, what issues are important in the area?  Are there groups interested in improving a local airport? Are there issues revolving around school building maintenance problems and funding?  [PVT]  Land use planning issues?  No one will notice you if you aren’t there.  Engaging in reasonable and civil discourse while working on projects in which there are several layers and levels of interest may not be a route to recruitment but can mitigate “image” problems, which in turn makes recruitment an easier matter.  Does the communication structure (system) of the local party include postings on topical local issues?

All this rambling leads to some central questions.  Is the State Party sufficiently interested in, or fiscally capable of, strengthening and encouraging the development of rural and suburban party elements? Is the State Party in a position to and interested in assisting in the coordination of the Democratic Party message on a statewide basis? 

In the end, “All politics is local.”

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