Nevada is ground zero for the 2022 election. You can’t watch the Raiders play on Sunday without being inundated with political ads. If your phone rings, it’s likely a robocall urging you to vote for or against a particular candidate. Earlier this year, the 775 area code ranked No. 3 in the country for robocalls. This will only get worse between now and Election Day.
In November, voters will have their say on every statewide constitutional office, a U.S. Senate seat and the majority of the seats in the Nevada Legislature. But beyond noise from the political ads, there is something more fundamental on the ballot: whether we have elected officials who believe in the rule of law, or who would rather Nevada (and the country as a whole) adopt one-party, authoritarian rule.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the rule of law and entrepreneurial freedom are on the ballot this fall. We have candidates across the state who proudly, loudly and repeatedly claim that the 2020 election was illegitimate. When challenged, these champions of the “Big Lie” don’t produce facts; they only make only by more strident assertions and attack their political opponents.
Jim Marchant, the GOP candidate for secretary of state, is a clear and present threat to fair elections in Nevada. He has closely allied himself with election-denier and mega-donor Robert Beadles, who last year called for a “purge” of anyone from the Republican party who acknowledges the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
If Jim Marchant becomes secretary of state, he will have influence over every election in the state; it’s clear he’ll use that power to spread the anti-democratic measures that Robert Beadles and others have called for. Adam Laxalt, a regular fixture on Nevada ballots for any open position, has taken an even more extreme position by telling his donors he already has plans to declare the outcome of this election fraudulent, should he lose.
Marchant and Laxalt are just two examples of extreme far-right candidates who are embracing authoritarianism and one-party rule. When one side declares that any election they lose is de facto illegitimate, they have abandoned democracy.
Some may wave away these developments as “politics being politics,” but the truth is this: Authoritarian leaders will use their positions of power in government to start corrupting private industry. In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, one in six business owners faced charges from the state, and more than 70,000 were jailed. Believing that it can’t happen here is dangerously naive.
As the owner of a Nevada-grown company, the prospect of this kind of “leadership” in my state is appalling. Small businesses like mine are the backbone of our national economy, creating two-thirds of our new jobs and nearly half of our GDP, according to the Small Business Administration. They’re also the first businesses to be crushed by authoritarians.
A strong democracy is essential for a vibrant, entrepreneurial economy. The two go hand in hand. If Big Lie advocates like Marchant and Laxalt are elected, we could lose our economy and our democracy in one fell swoop.
It’s time to choose a side; I’ll be voting for democracy on Nov. 8.
Abbi Whitaker is the owner at The Abbi Agency in Reno, a marketing and communications firm which was recently named the 2022 Bulldog Reporter Midsize Agency of the Year.