Noam Chomsky, a renowned social and political activist, as well as a highly awarded linguist, once said, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
These words are, in my opinion, the very definition of the First Amendment, while at the same time being a practice in the principal they describe, considering my perspective. Do I agree with Mr. Chomsky’s position on socialism? No. Do I have the same opinion as this man when it comes to capitalism? Not at all. But, I do have a passion for the freedom to express one’s thoughts on a subject, and that is where Noam and I get along. The First Amendment is a key part of our history, and without it, religions, political parties and social movements would have been eradicated before they could enact any kind of meaningful change.
If that is the case, then why is a significant portion of Lincoln County excluded from the decision as to who should be our district attorney?
This past Tuesday, our county was invited to participate in the Nevada primaries, and many of our county’s residents participated. According to Silver State Voting’s estimates, roughly 1,000 voters were able to exercise their right to decide which politicians they want to represent them, but there was a notable difference between the Democratic and Republican ballots. Voting for the district attorney, it turns out, was reserved for Republican voters only, since both candidates belong to that party.
First, let me tell you what I don’t believe, to make my position clear: this is not a criticism of the current or future district attorneys. Both of them are good men, and they have both fought admirably for our county in different ways. Furthermore, I am not suggesting that anything illegal happened with the voting process. I believe that the people that ran the voting locations did a wonderful job and, at least in my experience, were very helpful. Finally, I don’t really believe that the addition of the Democratic vote would have swayed the decision in either direction. According to Silver State Voting’s estimates mentioned above, out of the over 1,000 voters that participated in the Senate race, for example, only about 230 were Democrats. It is even remotely possible that the new voters would have made the race more one-sided than it already was, but the fact remains that a significant portion of the county was excluded from this decision.
All that said, the position of district attorney does not carry the same kind of representation that a senator or president has. One of the key elements of a democracy is that we elect the people we want to represent us because we cannot be there personally to voice our opinions on every little subject, but in public service positions like sheriff and district attorney, that representation is null and void. When someone’s arrested for a crime, they don’t have a democratic sheriff’s department do the deed if you align with that side of the aisle, nor does a judge ask a plaintiff their political affiliation when considering who can prosecute your case.
In closing, I’d like to express my disappointment that I didn’t know about this earlier, because I could have warned people about this exclusion. Perhaps we could have approached this in a different way, or maybe we could have made the right changes to ensure equal representation on a subject that appealed to all. But, I didn’t, and the voting has passed. When I did find out about this, I wasn’t really affected. Nonetheless, I thought about what would happen if I was on the other side of the issue, and that really boiled my blood.
If you’re as surprised and shocked as I am at this complete exclusion of members of a political party when it comes to a public service position, I would invite you to take action by making it known to your senator, representative and anyone else who could make a difference. After all, without equal representation, we might as well be a monarchy.