Republicans Acting Like Democrats Used To

After claiming, “I never met a man I didn’t like,” Will Rogers is probably most famous for one other line: “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

Nevada is standing Rogers on his head. Democrats are organized. Republicans don’t seem to be, and if Democrats fail to take advantage of it, they’ll simply prove Rogers was right.

Gov. Brian Sandoval announced his intentions of reducing the number of furloughs for state workers next year and eliminating them by 2015—just in time for his second term to begin, or just in time to hope that they will vote for him.

Yet for that obvious overture, Sandoval has shown signs of being out of step with his party—and constituents—both at home and out of state. Like when the Nevada Republican State Central Committee dined at the Governor’s Mansion, and the featured speaker was none other than Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. You may have heard of him. Underwritten by the Koch brothers, he set out to destroy the state employees’ union and, thanks to a combination of Republican dishonesty and the incompetence of his opposition, he succeeded.

Nationally, Republicans are showing signs of awakening to the fact, horrifying as it is for some of them, that gay people are capable of human emotions like love. They include several Republican legislators in Nevada who have joined the effort to repeal the Nevada Constitution’s decade-old prohibition on same-sex marriage. Sandoval announced, “marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

Sandoval can’t abide new taxes and some Republican legislators, led by State Senate minority leader Michael Roberson, have come out for allowing higher mining taxes, and essentially told the governor to stuff it. As part of his dedication to rooting out government waste and overspending, Sandoval’s administration doled out $9 million of our money to an out-of-state advertising agency—in other words, a non-Nevada business—to come up with a new slogan for the state. That slogan is “A World Within. A State Apart.”

Suppose you’re running for governor in 2014. Here’s what you do. You point out that Sandoval blew state tax money, the overwhelming majority of which is from Clark County, coming up with an ad campaign for the rest of the state. Then, you add, he won’t let a mining industry that has a lot going on in the rest of Nevada and very little going on in Clark County pay its fair share. Then you ask why he has no use for more than 70 percent of the state’s population except to take
our money for the rest of the state. Then you note that Republicans talk about keeping government out of our business, but Sandoval wants to keep the government in our bedrooms.

But Republicans might do your work for you. Longtime Nevada right-wing noisemaker (that isn’t meant unkindly—he makes noise) Chuck Muth has been hammering Sandoval and Roberson for different reasons. The Ron Paul supporters who almost took over the state party in 2008 and 2012 long have been unhappy with the lack of respect for their libertarianism among state GOP leaders.

Few Democrats have seemed willing to take on Sandoval in 2014. It has looked like a suicide mission, politically speaking. It may be. Sandoval will have ample money, and the same brains behind him who manipulated the strings in 2010. He doesn’t figure to have a primary that will weaken him. But long ago, a Republican—when that party stood for good things—said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. The Republican house may stand, but it’s looking a bit more rickety than it used to.