Nevada’s political demographics are changing, and the resulting “blue wave” has started to lead many conservatives, libertarians and free market advocates to begin entertaining the idea of fleeing the state.
‘Get out before Nevada becomes California,’ seems to be the general mentality. I’s a tempting notion. After all, in recent years there’s been something of an exodus of free market advocates fleeing already deep blue states like New York, Illinois and California, looking for homes where government’s overbearing influence is not yet at intolerable levels. The thinking among some Nevadans, dismayed by the state’s leftward political lurch in recent years, seems to be that avoiding the rush might not be the worst idea. But are they right?
It’s true that changing demographics have contributed significantly to Nevada’s recent political changes. Californians, for example, have been immigrating to the Silver State in droves to escape the consequences of that stat’s “progressive” politics. Ad yet, many of those transplants, nonetheless, bring with them a continued faith that government-driven solutions—rather than free markets—can solve almost any problem.
However, demographics and progressive California voters alone can’t explain the rising tide of big-government policies coming from Nevada’s elected leaders. A much bigger contributing factor has less to do with a changing political landscape than with government itself.
Government unions, incestuous politics, cronyism and a failing education system are all part of the political machine turning out big government policies each legislative session—regardless of what party is in power.
In the last legislative session, for example, government lobbyists and government unions used Nevadans’ tax dollars to decimate educational options for low income kids, reduce government transparency and hike taxes—results that even most rank and file Democrats would find unappealing.
Truly, government was—as it always is—the most powerful “special interest” in the capitol building in 2019. This government-lobbying for bigger government isn’t new to Nevada—nor was it imported to this state by Californians, New Yorkers or any other generally-progressive group of citizens. It’s something that virtually all states contend with. After all, governments, just like any other organization, are incentivized to grow.
Encouragingly, the principles that can act a bulwark against a seemingly never-ending growth in government aren’t nearly as dependent upon partisan politics as one might initially believe. And they deserve a defense, not an abandonment.
Transparency in government, protections against cronyism, separation of powers and educational options that actually empower parents rather than government insiders are just a few of the policies that can act as a substantial bulwark against the kind of government overreach many free market advocates in Nevada fear. More importantly, such policies have largely bipartisan support among voters, taxpayers, parents and citizens of all backgrounds.
In the last legislative session, it was exclusively government lobbyists that fought against strengthening the state’s transparency law, despite broad public support for such a measure. It was government unions who torpedoed a scholarship program for low-income students, despite more than 70 percent support for the program among regular Nevadans. It was government insiders and bureaucrats who told Democrat lawmakers they could raise taxes without the constitutionally-required two thirds majority, despite the fact that Nevada voters continue to show hostility toward increased taxes.
In other words, government continues to be the biggest and most effective cheerleader for bigger government, regardless of what kind of shifts take place on the political landscape. (After all, don’t forget that the state’s largest tax hike was passed by Republicans in 2015.)
Because voters aren’t on board with all of government’s self-interested efforts, free market advocates have an incredible opportunity to educate new Nevadans and connect with new audiences, by merely exposing the “government-first” mentality that drives ever larger state control over our lives.
None of us are going to be able to outrun government’s natural tendency to overreach, overtax and overregulate by simply moving out of state. But we can limit it, if we merely look beyond the partisan political landscape and look instead for the right opportunities to change some minds.