Back in 2010, conservative Assemblyman Jim Wheeler – who was not yet elected at the time – and I had a difference of opinion on the job of an elected representative as it relates to fulfilling his constituents’ desires. Mr. Wheeler’s position was that he was elected to vote how his constituents wanted him to vote, even if he believed they were wrong.
To demonstrate my position that an elected official – who has a lot more information at his or her disposal when issues come before the Legislature than the average citizen – has the obligation to do what he believes is the right thing regardless of what the voters favor, I raised the extreme example that if voters wanted to bring back slavery it was incumbent upon the elected official to vote no anyway.
Fast forward to this past August. Now-Assemblyman Wheeler was speaking at a Lyon County GOP meeting and reasserted his position that as an elected official he believes his job is to vote as his constituents want, raising my example about slavery that came up three years earlier.
A video of Assemblyman Wheeler’s remarks was uncovered by a liberal activist and released on Monday to a voracious media and establishment Republicans who smelled blood coming from a conservative and began the expected feeding frenzy – as if Wheeler would ever really vote to bring back slavery.
Indeed, as Wheeler put it in an email to colleagues last night…
“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.”
Look, the man used an extreme analogy to make a point about his opinion on the proper role of an elected official in which he and I have disagreed for some time. The context of his remarks was about his obligation to the whims of the electorate, not slavery. But he did say what he said and he’s taking the heat for it.
But let’s not overlook the obvious here. Obviously, this brouhaha has blown up out of proportion for one reason: Jim Wheeler is a conservative.
Remember just a few short weeks ago, Jon Ralston himself, Nevada’s #2 liberal blogger, referred to the campaigning by black Republican Niger Innis as “spadework.” It was an extremely poor choice of a “racially insensitive” word, but nevertheless you didn’t hear a peep from anyone about it. Why? Because Ralston’s a liberal, that’s why.
It’s a well-known and well-established double standard.
The bottom line is this: Jim Wheeler would never vote to bring back slavery, his poor choice of words to the contrary. But because he’s a conservative, Ralston’s lynch mob is out for blood. It’ll be up to Assemblyman Wheeler’s constituents to decide what, if anything, to do about it.