Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 | 2 a.m.
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Dear Republican presidential candidates and campaigns:
As you filter through our great state in preparation for Saturday’s caucuses, we hope you get a sense of what Nevadans really think. Yes, we know that each of you claims to speak for the people — you understand us, you really do — but let’s put the pandering on the shelf for a minute.
The state’s leading political commentator, our colleague Jon Ralston, offered you some wonderfully practical advice Wednesday in his column, pointing out that despite perceptions, Nevadans really are no different from anyone else in the country. The state is part of the new heartland of America, as the Brookings Institution called it, and when it comes to the nation’s current crisis, Nevadans understand it like few others. The state has the highest rates of unemployment and home foreclosure in the nation — and has held that dubious distinction for far too long.
But before you start bashing President Barack Obama or the Democrats in Congress, particularly native son Harry Reid, please understand that Nevadans are tired of rhetoric. It doesn’t pay the mortgage or put food on the table or create jobs. We would venture to say all that talk has made you, in the words of a former Republican vice president, “nattering nabobs of negativism.” Who wants to invest in America, much less “believe in America,” when some of you claim the nation is on the verge of collapse under the weight of some form of European socialism. Claims like that are disingenuous at best and, along with the other hyperbole, have made the debate toxic.
If you really think we’re turning into a socialist country, be honest: Would you end public education, Medicare, Social Security, public hospitals, transportation systems, roads and all those other “socialist” things?
But we digress. We want to hear your plans. The real plans.
How are you going to help Nevada homeowners whose mortgages are underwater due to no fault of their own? Hardworking people have seen their home values plummet or have lost their homes because of all the games that were played by Wall Street and the mortgage companies during the boom and after the bust. Some of their actions were criminal.
So what do you say? Let the market bottom out and let the free market work? Well, it might have worked for some of you — those of you with the big bank accounts know who you are — but it hasn’t worked well for us. Nevadans don’t want to hear your economic theories and other fantasies while we’re suffering. They come across as mean-spirited and tailored to the rich.
You front-runners should take notice: Your populist talk won’t fly here. Nevadans appreciate the fact that you’ve been successful and have millions of dollars at your disposal, but we live in a different reality.
Put yourself in the shoes of a hardworking Nevadan who lost her job and her house because of the collapse. She doesn’t have a Cayman Island bank account or a Rolodex full of wealthy friends and political connections. Should she just cheer up and be comforted that the free market is “working”? Perhaps she should rejoice because her mortgage company flouted the rules to swiftly foreclose on her house. That will help the market hit bottom and rebound all the more quickly, right?
Go ahead and say it. We don’t need to be patronized. We’ve been through enough already, so you can tell the truth while you’re here. If nothing else, take your campaign workers out for a good time and spend lavishly at our world-class restaurants and hotels. That’s one way that you can help while you’re in town.