Nevada’s absentee senator Dean Heller has declared that he will hold a town hall provided there is no booing. The senator who missed an opportunity to meet with hundreds of constituents last night at the library on Flamingo seems to think his responsibilities to his constituents are conditional.
While no one likes to be booed, perhaps Heller should reflect on how his unpopularity is a product of the relationship with his constituents and the Trump administration he has established in the past months. He has supported nearly all of Trump’s nominees, including an attorney general who wants to roll back voting rights, an EPA director who wants to kill the capacity of the agency to protect our air and water, a Treasury Secretary who ran a foreclosure machine and labored for Goldman Sachs rather than the middle class, an Education Secretary who wants to voucherize public schools, and a CIA director who wants to expand domestic spying and kill whistleblowers.
Unsurprisingly, these nominees were a red flag to constituents who worried about civil liberties, and had good to cause to worry as the Trump administration rolled out deportations, an unconstitutional Muslim ban, and threatened to curtail voting rights. Heller offered support to the administration, and exactly nothing to his constituents during these weeks.
We have now heard from Stephen Bannon that the goal of this administration is the “deconstruction” of the state, and that Trump’s bumbling and “chaos” are actually the unfolding of a plan to gut government as we know it. Government has been constructed in the past eighty years as a robust entity to serve a public interest and the needs of diverse citizens.
Anyone who wants subsidized healthcare, social security, clean water and air, safe food, education, support for childcare, workplace protections, access to parks and recreation areas, will be hurt badly by Bannon’s efforts to “deconstruct” our public sector. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that virtually every American’s life would be fundamentally and horrifically altered without the array of services and protections we rely on and have charged a fairly responsive public sector with providing.
Many of us have long warned that we were up against something more than a run-of-the-mill administration, and Bannon’s words confirm that this is an administration which sees chaos as a method and an end. Shutting the New York Times and other outlets out of the White House today indicate the administration’s authoritarian efforts to keep the public from learning about its actions.
In light of Bannon’s declaration that Trump’s cabinet exists to destroy the public sector, mounting authoritarianism, and the implications for all voters, left- or right-wing, Heller’s protestations that he will treat this administration like the two that came before it seem dangerously naïve.
Nevadans need to hear from their absentee, spineless Senator now. Does Heller plan to continue enabling Bannon’s efforts to obliterate the public sphere on which Nevadans of all stripes rely, or will he demonstrate that he understands the gravity of the threat posed by this depraved administration and agents of chaos like Trump and Bannon? As the elevated, frightened, and angry voices of his constituents suggest, Heller is already too late in answering this crucial question.