Guy W. Farmer: Republicans: Can’t we all just get along?

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

I’m glad I’m not a Republican because I wouldn’t enjoy watching the alleged leaders of my party disparage and insult each other in an ongoing political bloodbath. Those leaders really don’t like or respect one another on all levels of government — national, state and local. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who will preside at the Republican National Convention at Cleveland in July, still says he’s “not ready” to support his party’s presumptive nominee for president, bombastic New York businessman Donald Trump, after a Capitol Hill meeting on Thursday where they tried to paper over their differences on policy issues ranging from immigration to foreign trade to the size of government. They issued a joint statement describing their meeting as “a positive step” toward uniting the Republican Party. But don’t hold your breath because they really don’t like one another.

“If insufficient resistance to (President) Obama’s liberalism created a sense of betrayal, why did Republican voters choose the least conservative candidate?” asked Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer, who described Trump’s GOP primary victories as “an ideological earthquake.”

So it’s Trump versus the Republican establishment in Washington. How is this ideological divide playing out at the state level, you might ask. Well, let’s examine a recent education funding “dialogue” (nice word for it) between moderate Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and ultra-conservative State Controller Ron Knecht. According to the Appeal’s Geoff Dornan, Sandoval objected to Knecht’s initiative petition “to repeal the commerce tax and unbalance the budget,” and the State Supreme Court ruled Wednesday the measure didn’t qualify for the November ballot.

Knecht argued the state could replace $121 million in lost revenue by making “judicious cuts.” Well, maybe.

“The Legislature and I made a generational investment in the children of Nevada,” Sandoval said. “The millions of dollars the controller would like to take from education will irreversibly and permanently harm children . . . and the ability to attract quality businesses to our state.” Ouch!

And here in Carson City the local Republican Party “expelled” District 40 Assemblyman “P.K.” O’Neill for supporting the governor’s budget and the controversial Commerce Tax. “If he (O’Neill) doesn’t want to walk like a Republican, talk like a Republican and vote like a Republican, he isn’t one,” said local party chairman Roger Haynes. O’Neill fired back, saying his party has been “hijacked by ideologues” and defended his vote for the governor’s tax package.

Personally, I think O’Neill is a decent, honorable man who’s trying to do the right thing for his constituents and their families. Unfortunately, some of his fellow Republicans and high-level educational bureaucrats don’t always help him sell his ideas about sub-par public education in Nevada.

For example, the state is spending $6 million this school year to hire 139 social workers and administrators to combat bullying in the schools. I’m against bullying but I’d rather spend $6 million on programs to improve academic achievement in our schools. I’m also dubious about all-day kindergarten, which often turns out to be free daycare, and I urge Attorney General Adam Laxalt to demand federal reimbursement for the millions of taxpayer dollars we spend on English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in public schools. This is clearly a federal responsibility brought on by the Obama administration’s failure and/or refusal to enforce our immigration laws.

My good friend, Chamber of Commerce Director Ronni Hannaman, recently wrote “politics brings out the worst in us.” Does it ever! One way to combat this ugly trend is to abandon all-or-nothing politics and the “I don’t win unless you lose” approach to contentious taxing and spending issues. Or is “compromise” still a bad word?

Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is the Appeal’s longtime political columnist.


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