Las Vegas Sun

December 17, 2017

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Where I Stand:

Declaring independence and standing for Nevadans

We have heard words to that effect before. In fact, this coming week — July 4 to be exact — our country will celebrate the 241st anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. You know, that’s the document that started this whole American democracy thing.

Independence Day is our way of paying homage, tribute and respect to the bravery of those men who gathered in Pennsylvania for the second Continental Congress, which was charged with adopting the words Thomas Jefferson wrote. They did so unanimously.

And so, the people of what would soon be called the United States of America stated the reasons to King George III that impelled them to separate from the monarchy that gave them life.

In short, the folks in the 13 colonies wanted the freedom to decide their own destiny. They held “these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So here we are, almost two and a half centuries later, and what are we arguing about in the current Congress of the United States?

Well, for one thing, we are focused on the attempt by a foreign monarch (we can call Vladimir Putin’s role in Russia as mostly kinglike) to enslave our political system to do his will. There is no longer any doubt that Putin meddled with our 2016 presidential election and little doubt that he will do it again and again if we let him get away with it. So far, only the president has shown some reluctance to enforce American independence from a foreign power.

For a second thing, Americans are being met this week by their senators who are coming home to their states for Independence Day looking for a rest but, most likely, they will be hearing from their constituents about GOP plans to scuttle their health care.

Nevada will be no different now that our senior U.S. senator, Dean Heller, has been singled out by President Donald Trump’s super PAC because he dared to stand up and speak out for the hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who have benefited from and had their lives made better because of their access to health insurance. Let’s call that Obamacare.

Sen. Heller broke with his party leaders who are trying to jam health care “repeal and replace” down the country’s throat despite polls overwhelmingly in favor of Americans keeping their health care program.

Because he did that, because he sided with Nevada’s popular Gov. Brian Sandoval in speaking out for Nevadans who would be hurt by the GOP bill — President Trump called a similar effort from the House “mean” — the pro-Trump PAC tried to take Heller apart.

I feel sorry for Dean since he would love to do what his party and his president tell him, but he is torn because he took an oath to represent the interests of his constituents in Nevada. And let’s face it, Sen. Heller needs plenty of Silver State votes next year if he wants to keep his seat.

So that means he will have to declare his independence from party politics and this crazy need to “get a win” for the people who elected President Trump.

In 1776, a group of patriots risked life and limb to do what was right for their fellow citizens. In the end, they formed this more perfect union, and succeeding generations have spent the past 240 years trying to make it even better.

Dean Heller risks either the short-term disappointment of a bunch of Republican senators — and not even that if they get the 50 votes needed, which I think they will — or the long term enmity of his fellow Nevadans whose lives and limbs may depend upon their ability to afford health insurance.

Tyranny is not healthy no matter where it raises its ugly head. We know the dangers of Russian tyranny and we wait impatiently for President Trump to do his job — you know, the part about protecting and defending this country.

As for health care, the tyranny of small minds and the failure of imagination may take us in an unhealthy direction. Nevadans have a right to expect that Sen. Heller will stand up for them.

They have the right to demand he declare his independence on their behalf.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.

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