Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010 | 2:02 a.m.
“Stupid is as stupid does.”
That’s right, Forrest Gump has managed to insert himself into yet another national spectacle. This time it is the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle Senate race in Nevada.
With early voting over and the big day nearly upon us, there is still the wide-open question of what Nevadans will do in the race for the U.S. Senate. Will Reid be returned to lead the greatest deliberative body in the world or will Nevada voters retire him and, in his place, send an extreme, right-wing freshman about whom voters know so little?
I have been asked hundreds of times since the general election began, who I thought would win this race. My answer has been consistent. I believe Harry Reid will win, I just didn’t know how he would get it done. That is because I couldn’t believe the voters in Nevada could do something so stupid as to remove the majority leader of the Senate at a time when Nevada, a state that has been crushed by the depressing economic recession, needs all the help it can get.
We can all argue whether those who are supporting Angle are stupid. I can’t justify such a blanket opinion about people. But, what I can do is understand what Forrest Gump meant when he made that famous quote a set of household words. “Stupid is as stupid does” means that even intelligent people can do stupid things. And that, my friends, would make them stupid!
Don’t yell at me for telling it like it is. Yell at Gump!
This has been a long and mind-numbing election process. I am happy it will soon be over. I believe we have been hit hard enough where it really counts — our savings accounts, our home mortgages and values, our jobs and our futures — that we haven’t deserved to be hit since June by nonstop mail pieces and brain-blurring television commercials designed to sway voters, almost always with half-truths, innuendoes and outright lies.
That, unfortunately, is the result of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow corporate interests and others to pile as much money as they desire into any race in the country. And much of it without giving the voters a clue who was spending the big bucks. That was a 5-4 decision, by the way. Don’t tell me elections don’t matter.
The entire country and probably much of the world are focused on what we will do in Nevada this Tuesday. We are big news!
Nevadans, however, will have to deal with the election results, and that is why we can’t afford to do something stupid!
It is not as simple as saying that people are angry, frustrated and eager to make a change, any change. That explains why so much passion is connected with this election. But it doesn’t explain why Nevadans can be making the biggest mistake they have ever made on an Election Day.
No, to explain that, we have to look at the facts on the ground. Elections are always about choices. The choice this time is not about whether we want someone who has served this state and this nation for three decades and who has risen to the very top of political power, a position that inures to the benefit of all Nevadans. Or, to the contrary, whether we think he has been there long enough and want to try something new.
No, the choice is between Harry Reid, who has given most of his adult life to public service and Sharron Angle, who is not just “something new.”
Sharron Angle is something, by her words and deeds, dangerous.
And try as the media in Nevada and across the country might, we have been unable to inform the voters in Nevada just how dangerous she is. That is because she has purposefully avoided any contact with responsible media folks who have tried hard to ask questions and get answers. Her strategy has been to stonewall at every turn. The problem, of course, is that for a person who holds up the Constitution as her second Bible everywhere she goes, she utterly fails to understand that greatest of all written democratic documents.
People’s right of access to information about their government is paramount. People who wish to seek and hold public office have no right to withhold themselves and their views from voters. Angle, obviously, disagrees with the First Amendment to the Constitution, the Founding Fathers who wrote it and the vast majority of Americans who live and die each day defending it.
The good news for voters is that they don’t need reporters’ questions answered to make an intelligent decision Tuesday. All we need do is pay attention to what Angle has said for years, meant for decades and believed forever. She has answered all the unanswered questions. The reason she has refused to tell voters what she thinks now is because she can’t think of a responsible way to tell people that she is nuts! At least nuts in the extreme sort of way that will move this country backward.
Angle would dismantle Social Security and Medicare, calling them biblical sins; do away with Veterans Affairs; not require insurance companies to pay for mammograms, and screenings for prostate and other cancers that we know can save lives with early detection; or refuse to require background checks for sex offenders. These are all norms of American daily living that people take for granted and expect that those who we elect won’t take them away. Angle would.
In a state that has been devastated by the economic meltdown and that needs jobs, jobs, jobs, Angle has been abundantly clear that it is not the job of Nevada’s U.S. senator to help create jobs for Nevadans! Even worse, she has stated publicly how she really feels about Nevadans crushed by this meltdown. She believes people who need unemployment benefits to keep their homes and food on their tables, until there are jobs to be had, are just spoiled! Give me a break.
And, finally, in any other election a candidate who even hints at armed insurrection — Angle calls that “Second Amendment remedies” — would be laughed out of the election or arrested for sedition, or both. Instead, Nevadans are seriously contemplating voting for this person.
Elections are about choices, and Nevadans have another choice. We can choose to do the right thing, the smart thing, the selfish thing for Nevada. We can choose to re-elect the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, a man who will be poised, especially with a Republican-led House of Representatives, to stand between a right-leaning Congress and a left-leaning White House. He will be the fulcrum in the middle who will have the political skills to move this country forward — responsibly.
We don’t have to listen to Forrest Gump to understand that voting for Angle would make us stupid. We can be smart all by ourselves.
We can re-elect Harry.
Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.