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VICTOR JOECKS: Nevada GOP leaders need DeSantis’ courage

Perhaps Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ upcoming visit to Nevada will help Republicans find the courage to stand up for their proclaimed beliefs.

On Tuesday, state Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro accused school choice supporters of delivering a “discriminatory message” to state Sen. Dallas Harris’ office. Around Valentine’s Day, choice proponents held a rally at the Legislature. They also passed out heart-shaped cards with handwritten messages backing school choice.

“Political rhetoric that intentionally stokes racial tensions or suggests LGBTQ+ students, parents teachers or staff should not be welcome in our schools is vile,” Cannizzaro said. She demanded Gov. Joe Lombardo and legislative Republicans condemn it.

That comment conjures up images of outrageous and deeply offensive hate speech. Here’s what was written: “No more CRT or LGBTQ+ in our schools.”

CRT presumably stands for critical race theory, which groups people by skin color, not their actions or individual traits. White people are oppressors and Black people the oppressed. It contends that systemic racism explains disparities in outcomes.

It stands in stark contrast to Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of judging people based on their character, not their skin color. Dividing people by their pigmentation is more likely to stoke racial tension than pushing for King’s unifying vision.

In context, it seems that LGBTQ+ is being used as shorthand for schools indoctrinating students in radical gender theory. Around the country, schools are teaching students that gender can be different than biological sex. Some schools help students transition without telling their parents, let alone receiving their permission.

But go figure school choice opponents would read that brief note in the most uncharitable way possible. Brainwashing students in CRT and radical gender theory aren’t political winners. So Democrats scare Republicans away from these issues with accusations of racism and bigotry.

It worked with some Senate Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Heidi Gansert quickly issued a statement condemning the majority leader’s interpretation of the message. If only she showed as much initiative in making the case for conservative policy reforms.

DeSantis offers a different playbook. He’s coming to Las Vegas on Saturday. Unofficially, he appears to be laying the groundwork for a presidential run. Officially, he’s promoting his book, “The Courage to be Free.” Nevada Republicans would do well to follow his advice.

“A leader does not meekly follow public opinion but shapes opinion through newsworthy actions,” he wrote, adding: “Key personnel need to view media smears as a form of positive feedback — the operatives for corporate media would not bother attacking someone unless that person is effective.”

Many Nevada GOP legislators take the opposite approach. They rarely try to shape public opinion or go on offense with policy proposals. They quiver under criticism from people who want to block their agenda.

They do this in a misguided attempt to retain power. The irony is that DeSantis’ path is a much better play politically. He cruised to victory in what was once a swing state, while legislative Republicans teeter on the edge of super-minority irrelevance in Carson City.

If only out of self-preservation, state Republicans should give DeSantis’ advice a try.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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