Tim Burke: What will the 2018 elections be like?

Depending on your political leaning, 2017 may have been a fantastic year or you may feel it was a total disaster.

Either way, politics in 2018 will probably be just as polarized and divisive for our society.

When you consider that it is an election year for most states, 2018 will probably make 2017 seem almost tranquil.

Nationally, senatorial and congressional seats are up for election that are currently held by Democrats in many states. Whether Democrats are re-elected or replaced by Republicans will have a significant impact on the Trump administration’s agenda.

The current Republican majority, though agonizingly slow, has enacted some of the president’s programs.

After President Donald Trump’s election it was the view of many political pundits that those Democrats up for election would assuredly be replaced by Republicans. But as the recent election in Alabama showed, that may not be a certainty.

Historically, Nevada was considered a “red” state but with Harry Reid leading the way and with an influx of out-of-state residents moving to Reno and Las Vegas that has changed these last few years.

Nevada is now solidly a “blue” state controlled by the urban population centers. It will be interesting to see if the current Republican senators and congresspersons will be able to be re-elected against Democratic opponents or if the state will become even more blue.

Locally, we will have our usual slate of biannual offices open for election. I have always been impressed with the number of individuals that vie for elected positions in our county and the town of Pahrump. Those candidates will run passionate campaigns with growth, taxes, and water being the main talking points of discussion.

Some of the campaigns will be ethical and will focus on the facts, others not so much. In some cases, the primary tactic of the campaigns will be to cause fear. Fear that we will have runaway growth, fear that our taxes will skyrocket, and fear that we will run out of water. None of those will happen to the extent that may be portrayed this coming election season although they are excellent topics to rationally debate.

Fear is one of our most primal emotions and a very powerful motivator. Strong primal emotions cause people to take action. That action may not always be the best decision.

For example, there are numerous cases of individuals leaping out of a burning building to their deaths because their fear of being burned to death was greater than their fear of dying by falling. Neither option was a good choice and both had the same result, they died.

When we are highly motivated by a deep emotion like fear, our logical thought processes can be overwhelmed. We become unable to rationally analyze the situation and come up with a better alternative. In the case of choosing between leaping from a tall building or burning to death, it would probably have been better to search for a third solution that didn’t involve dying.

Checking the facts and taking away the emotional rhetoric and fear-mongering is an important part of the process for voters.

Every election it seems like those that push fear as their primary campaign strategy and make the most noise might actually get voted in. But voters are smart and generally they are able to sift through the campaign noise and figure out what makes logical sense. Let’s hope that continues in 2018.

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at timstakenv@gmail.com

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