(Senator Dean Heller) – Our nation stands at a critical juncture. We face historic challenges and the stakes have never been higher. But instead of cooperation and leadership from Washington, D.C., Americans are getting more partisan bickering and more divisive rhetoric. At a time when my home state of Nevada can least afford partisanship and finger pointing, it seems the White House and leaders in Washington are busy blaming America’s challenges on Americans.
But that’s not what I believe will solve our nation’s problems, and that’s not what I see from everyday Nevadans. I was honored last month to participate in numerous Veterans Day festivities in my home state. I saw a community united in its support for the heroes who made sacrifices, overcame obstacles and valued country over self, bravely defending our freedom in the Armed Forces. At the Boulder City Veterans Home, I shook hands with World War II veterans, men and women from the “Greatest Generation” who led our country to victory over fascism and oppression.
During the Las Vegas Veterans Day Parade, one of the highest attended in the country, I joined thousands of Nevadans—Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike—to honor our nation’s heroes in uniform. We were all united by our pride for our veterans, coming together to celebrate their leadership and legacy.
I also recently toured Henderson’s Ethel M Chocolate Factory, where the message from workers was nothing like the divisive pessimism we’ve heard so often out of Washington. Instead, I was told how the company plans to continue succeeding and expanding in a difficult economic climate. I was fascinated to learn the story of Forrest Mars who founded the Ethel M factory when he retired to Henderson, creating a unique local treasure based on family values and hard work. I can tell you those ideals are alive and well, thriving right there in the heart of southern Nevada.
I encountered that same optimistic determination when I met with employees of Ocean Spray’s facilities in Henderson. I was pleased to hear that the company is planning a celebration for a number of its employees who have worked for Ocean Spray since the facility opened 18 years ago. And when I toured and met with workers at Bally Technologies, Inc. in Las Vegas, I was thrilled to see firsthand how innovation coupled with the entrepreneurial spirit still motivates and inspires everyday folks in Nevada to pursue the American Dream. And that is a snapshot of what I see all over my state: a persistent, unbreakable resolve to overcome obstacles and achieve milestones.
Sadly, the picture I see of Washington today could not be more different. The recent failure of the so-called “super committee” to reach a solution on deficit spending illustrates just how out of touch the beltway is with average Americans who cannot afford to kick the can down the road with their own budgets. Congress has not passed a budget in more than two years; I dare say not a single family in Nevada can afford to live that way. There is clearly a widening gap separating the D.C. crowd from the rest of the country. While Washington is busy finger pointing and playing the blame game, Americans are tired of the rhetoric and are desperate for real leadership.
I recently cosponsored legislation that addresses the gap separating beltway insiders from average Americans. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2011 prevents Members of Congress from using non-public information for investment and personal financial purposes. It is time those of us in Washington, D.C., play by the same rules everyone else does. Strong leadership means more than fancy rhetoric. We must first lead by example.
If you ask me, Washington needs a healthy dose of the attitude my fellow Nevadans display day in and day out. There is no question that my state faces extraordinary challenges. We lead the nation in unemployment and foreclosures. Nowhere has the economic downturn been more severe than here in Nevada. But unlike on Capitol Hill, where cooperation and leadership have been put on the back burner, I see Nevadans united, working together, pressing forward.
I stand with my fellow Nevadans who are committed to working hard for a better future for our country. I choose to unite behind the American Dream, not the finger pointing and scare tactics so prevalent in political discourse today. I believe every Nevadan, and every American, deserves strong leadership, real solutions and a government that makes the right decisions for future generations. That is the attitude I see when I’m in my home state, and that’s the attitude we need in Washington today.
Take today’s poll: Should prostitution be legalized, regulated and taxed?