Gardnerville Assemblyman Jim Wheeler found himself in the middle of a media frenzy on Monday when a video surfaced of him implying he’d vote for slavery if that’s what his constituents wanted.
Wheeler didn’t so much say that he would vote for slavery, as agree with someone who was criticizing him on a vote he made in support of Brianna’s Law, which he feels is unconstitutional.
Technically, the quote was “I’d have to hold my nose. I’d have to bite my tongue. They’d have to hold a gun to my head. But, yeah. It’s what the citizens want. It’s what the constituents want that elected me. That’s what they elected me for. That’s what a republic is about.”
In a republic, the majority of voters select people we generally trust and agree with so they’ll do things we generally agree with. Those representatives then work within a constitutional framework to make and defeat laws. Sometimes people disagree about what’s constitutional, but in the case of slavery, which is banned under both the U.S. and Nevada constitutions, it’s pretty clear.
The question is not whether Wheeler would vote for slavery. We doubt the issue would come up.
The question is where Wheeler draws the line. We understand his dedication to listen to his constituents, but we also expect him to think about what he’s voting for or against.
Given the Republican Party’s history, we hope that our lawmakers would vote against slavery, especially if they have a gun to their heads. That may be a lot to ask, but then again freedom’s never free.