Being a conservative in the GOP can be a very frustrating experience.
Let's face it, the national GOP is pathetic; the GOP - led Congress has done little to advance what it promised in its excellent 1996 platform. Today, conservatives are expected to pull for George W. Bush, not on ideological grounds - he is certainly no conservative - but on a wing and a prayer he'll appoint conservative Supreme Court justices. At best, he represents the lesser of two evils.
But on the local level, things look much brighter. Our congressman, Jim Gibbons, and our governor, Kenny Guinn, have been acting in ways to make Nevadans proud. Their behavior gives me a glimmer of hope for the future.
First, Jim Gibbons. This Sparks native has locked horns with the U.S. Forest Service and successfully defeated them and the Clinton administration over a huge matter that tied up the U.S. Congress' time - a two acre cemetery.
It sounds absurd, but to allow the residents of tiny Jarbidge to have control of the plots of land their ancestors are buried, Gibbons had to go all out. He was forced to draft legislation, defend it against Forest Service attacks and finally have a reluctant president sign it into law - at a cost of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to the taxpayers.
The Forest Service, being petty and vindictive against the county the "Sagebrush Rebellion" was born in, claimed they needed to be "paid fair market value" before they could turn the cemetery over.
This from the same land management agency that has resisted competitive bidding on huge projects, awarding them to privileged corporations for a pittance of their true market value!
Gibbons really shines after recently spelling out his position on granting permanent special trading privileges to communist China.
"There are a number of issues that are adamantly clear and vivid in my mind as why we should oppose granting China permanent normal trade relations. China has engaged in a new Cold War with the U.S. China has 18-20 long-range international ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons that could reach U.S. cities. It is the same strategy Russia was engaged in and not once during the Cold War with Russia did we consider most favored nation status. Because of economic sanctions we beat Russia economically. By granting China permanent normal trade relations, we would create a stronger Cold War enemy."
Very succinctly put by a veteran of both Vietnam and Desert Storm.
But military considerations are not his only concerns. "I am very supportive of our farmers and ranchers. I want prices to be high enough for them to benefit from the booming economy, but I don't want to give them false hopes that permanent normal trade relations are going to raise the economy. In my view, it will increase competition against them and open the flood gates for importing Chinese products."
Clearly, Gibbons has not fallen for the fantasy of unlimited "free trade," but has stuck to his oath to defend the Constitution, which clearly states in article one, section eight, "Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations."
Nor has Gibbons overlooked what was once the mantra of the American liberals, human rights.
"We are opposed to human rights abuses and to that type of oppression throughout the world. Permanent normal trade relations would make China stronger through commerce and would allow its government to become stronger, and then communism will get stronger. We have engaged ourselves to defend Taiwan, and China has threatened to take back Taiwan. That would put U.S. troops in danger."
As the father of a 17-year-old, the thought of him fighting China in the not too distant future is horrifying. But picturing the same red Chinese armed by U.S. corporations is repulsive beyond degree.
On human rights, Gibbons is again right on the money, and numerous worldwide watchdog groups confirm his views. Slave labor, child labor, political repression, religious persecution and brutal treatment of any type of dissent is well documented.
Gibbons concludes. "We have to do what we can to promote democracy. Promoting communism with economics is contrary to U.S. policies."
I have become very cynical and rather bitter about politics in general at the ripe old age of 39, but Gibbons' comments are the first thing in quite awhile that made me feel like standing up and cheering. He said it so well.
Sadly, his views are opposed by his own party, the once staunchly anti-Communist GOP, who have disgracefully allied themselves with the Clinton administration to push permanent normal trade relations.
Another pleasing behavior has been the conduct of Governor Guinn. His support of Elko County in the Jarbidge dispute with the feds was somewhat unexpected, but much appreciated. And his strong opposition to U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan's bill to lock up the Black Rock Desert, another surprise, is now bearing fruit. U.S. Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, chairman of a subcommittee studying the proposal, has apparently buried the bill, stalling if not killing it outright based on overwhelming opposition to it coming from Nevada.
Craig specifically mentioned opposition from Guinn and 16 of the 17 Nevada county governments as the reasons for his actions.
I have a great deal of concern about Guinn's policies for the future, but for now his actions are exemplary. Gibbons has been consistently excellent on almost all issues. It's nice to feel proud of the conduct of elected officials for a change.
Ira Hansen is a columnist for the Sparks Tribune. His radio talk show can be heard on KKOH 780 AM at 11 a.m. on Saturdays. Nevada Appeal Publisher Jeff Ackerman, whose column normally appears in this space, is out of town this week.