There are lots of silly attacks in politics, but liberals feigning indignation over Nevada Republicans criticizing California is especially laughable.
In August, Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt held his fourth annual Basque Fry. Many of the speakers — including NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, House candidate Cresent Hardy and Assemblyman Jim Wheeler — warned that electing Democrats will turn Nevada into California. On the campaign trail, Laxalt has echoed similar themes.
For decades, Republicans around the country have used California as shorthand for liberalism. This latest barrage, however, has Nevada leftists reaching for the smelling salts.
The Las Vegas Sun took a break from copying and pasting New York Times editorials to opine that “voters should seriously question whether Laxalt, by condoning the comments of the Basque Day speakers, has disqualified himself from the governorship.”
Laxalt is one of only two politicians “who detected California as a threat in Nevada,” wrote Dennis Myers in the Reno News and Review. “Nearly everyone else has been talking about issues.”
So many straw-man arguments. Start with the Sun advancing the absurd idea that urging voters to prevent Nevada from becoming “California East” is a personal attack on Californians. That doesn’t pass the smell test. One of the headline speakers at the Basque Fry was Rep. Devin Nunes, who’s from — you guessed it — California.
How difficult is it to figure out that when political figures attack California, they’re attacking its political policies? That’s too much of an intellectual challenge for some, apparently, unless they’d prefer to acknowledge their intellectual dishonesty.
Then there’s the idea that attacking California amounts to avoiding the issues. Nope. The soundbite doesn’t appeal to voters because Silver State residents feel envious that California is called the Golden State. It’s effective precisely because it reminds voters of specific issues, such as how California made itself into a sanctuary state.
California also has a personal income tax, which tops out at 13.3 percent. It has a corporate income tax of 8.84 percent. Nevada has neither, and Republicans want to keep it that way. Gas is 42 cents per gallon more expensive in California than in Nevada, in part because of a 12-cent gas tax implemented last November. Rising pension costs have forced numerous California cities to cut back on services, including public safety. Some are considering bankruptcy.
Several California cities have outlawed plastic straws. The state banned plastic bags in 2014. Feces and used drug needles, however, still fill the streets of San Francisco.
The minimum wage in California will be $15 an hour by 2023. The state just passed a bill to phase out power from fossil fuels by 2045. It started a cap-and-trade program in 2012. California doesn’t have a right-to-work law.
Gavin Newsome, almost certainly the next governor of California, wants single-payer health care for everyone, including illegal immigrants. A previous single-payer effort died when the Democrat-dominated legislature couldn’t figure out how to pay for it. The cost was more than twice the state’s budget.
Top that all off with onerous environmental and zoning restrictions that have artificially boosted the price of homes to two-and-a-half times the national average, pricing all but the wealthy.
You can warn Nevadans about California’s radically left-wing policies and propose Nevada-specific solutions. That’s what Laxalt has done. He’s already released two plans to improve education, including one addressing career and technical education. The first plank of Sisolak’s education platform is to form a commission to tell him what to do about Nevada’s funding formula. It would be great to discuss Sisolak’s position on banning semiautomatic weapons and taxpayer-funded abortions, but he’s refused to give his stance on those topics.
Republicans don’t fear California because they think it’s inherently a terrible place. Instead, they’re urging Nevadans to avoid importing the liberal policies that are causing people to flee from one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Victor Joecks is a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.