For the millionth time, racist old people in positions of power: If you don’t want your bigotry to be made in to big headlines all over Al Gore’s Internet, go back to journaling. Not that many in the Grand Old Party maintain such modesty, but in the case of Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (pictured), it’s a lesson he’d best learn to keep in his back pocket for future reference. On Monday, a YouTube video surfaced, featuring Wheeler telling a gathering of Republicans that’d he vote to allow slavery if that is what his constituents wanted of him.
Speaking before members of the Storey County Republican Party at a meeting in August, Wheeler explained:
If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose, I’d have to bite my tongue, and they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah, if that’s what the citizens of the, if that’s what the constituency wants that elected me, that’s what they elected me for. That’s what a republic is about. You elected a person for your district to do your wants and wishes, not the wants and wishes of a special interest, not his own wants and wishes, yours.
In reaction, his Republican peers wasted no time in sprinting away from him. In a statement, Gov. Brian Sandoval said:
“Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments are deeply offensive and have no place in our society. He should retract his remarks and apologize.”
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., called Wheeler’s comments “insensitive and wrong.” And Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, noted via Twitter that Wheeler’s comments are “outrageous, they are embarrassing and they are just plain sad.” Roberson added, “It’s time for Jim Wheeler to find a new line of work.”
You see, it’s okay for the GOP to treat Blacks as second-class citizens in the Reconstruction era realness that is a national effort to disenfranchise minority voters, but don’t you dare mention “slavery.”
Wheeler, the freshman lawmaker, has since released his own statement:
The media is having a good time with a clearly facetious statement I made in a town hall meeting earlier this year. They’re attempting to spin an extreme example I used about supporting my constituents to accuse me of being racist. Anybody that knows me knows that’s absurd, and anyone that views the comments in context understands that the whole point of the example is that racism of any kind is something that I find completely unacceptable.
During the meeting, I was asked how I would vote if I believed one way on an issue, and my constituents believed the opposite. I stated the truth that I believe, which is that in a Representative Republic, I’m hired by the people to represent their views. I used an over-the-top example of something that I absolutely do not agree with, and even mentioned that to get me to vote for such a thing, my constituents would literally have to hold a gun to my head. In reality, that isn’t the case at all. If my constituents wanted to do something as outlandish as bring back an abhorrent system, then I simply couldn’t represent them anymore. They would remove me from office, or I’d have to resign.
So he’s not the problem, our ability not to discern a “facetious” statement is. Here is the problem with Wheeler’s point of view. Even if I’m silly enough to believe his remarks were made in jest, I’m not dumb enough to think he couldn’t have thought of a better example to illustrate his point. A point that’s flawed in theory anyway.
Your constituents may have elected you based on a common share of views, but they also elected you to act in their best interest. So if you can speak about the virtues of the Republic for which you purportedly represent, you ought to know that a vote for slavery is not in the best interest of anyone besides a scant amount of racists who long for a time that’s long over in 2013.
Might you lose for hypothetically not aligning yourself with the bring-slavery-stance back? Perhaps, but you would have certainly done a better job at being an elective representative.
Wheeler isn’t the only person who legislates with this perspective. Many of his GOP brethren do too, enabling the fringe elements of the party versus being audacious enough to declare how asinine and antiquated many of their positions are.
It explains much of the current mess playing in Washington. Wheeler may be an utter fool for making his slavery comments, but there are bigger fools to fry when it comes to this dumb way of governing.