A Nevada GOP state representative told a crowd of conservatives that he would vote to bring back slavery if that’s what his constituents want.
Nevada Republican Jim Wheeler says he’d vote to bring back slavery.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, that’s exactly what assemblyman Jim Wheeler told a group of Republicans in Storey County.
Earlier this year, Wheeler voted for a piece of legislation in the Nevada state legislature because his constituents told him to do so. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem. But then Wheeler had to go and brag to his constituents that he’d vote the way they wanted on anything. And that’s when Wheeler went a bridge too far.
“I was hired to do a job, what the people wanted me to do, so if it is clear to me, even if it’s against my own wishes, what my constituents want, that’s the way I am going to vote,” Wheeler told the crowd.
Then Wheeler regaled the crowd with a question asked of him by Chuck Muth, the leader of a conservative group called Citizens Outreach.
“What if those citizens decided they wanted to, say, bring back slavery?” Muth asked in a blog post. “Hey, if it’s what the citizens want, right Jim?”
“Yeah, I would,” Wheeler promised the Republicans standing before him. “I may not agree with you but if it’s what you want, hey, you can live with the consequences.”
Wheeler backtracked and made excuses when confronted about his remark on slavery.
In true Republican form, after being approached by the media, Wheeler immediately backed away from the comment and claimed he was merely exaggerating to make a point.
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard if anyone could even fathom believing it,” Wheeler stated. “I don’t care if every constituent in District 39 wanted slavery, I wouldn’t vote for it. That’s ridiculous. Nobody in that meeting took it literally either. I never heard a comment about it until now. If someone is offended by this, then I sincerely apologize.”
Wheeler also blamed Democrats, accused “liberal” activists of taking his words out of context and claimed he was being targeted because of his opposition to gun control.
Democrats and Republicans were quick to condemn Wheeler’s remark on slavery.
Wheeler’s remarks prompted an immediate rebuke from Jodi Stephens, the director of the state Senate Republican caucus. “I don’t care what point he was trying to make,” Stephens said via Twitter. “Jim Wheeler’s comments about slavery are disgusting and unacceptable.”
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval was also quick to blast the insensitive remarks.
“Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments are deeply offensive, and have no place in our society, the Governor stated.”
Even Nevada US Senator Dean Heller had words for his fellow Republican.
“Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments were insensitive and wrong,” Heller wrote. “As an elected representative, it is Assemblyman Wheeler’s responsibility to protect Nevadans’ civil liberties at all times. Such statements have no place in public discourse.”
Wheeler is not the first Republican to stick their foot in their mouth over slavery.
GOP officials should be commended for condemning Wheeler’s remarks. Unfortunately, Wheeler is not the first Republican in recent years to gin up conservatives by talking about slavery. Just last fall, Arkansas House GOP Rep. Jon Hubbard called slavery “a blessing in disguise“. A few days later, another Republican said that slavery wasn’t bad because the Bible didn’t say it was. In 2011, Michele Bachmann also came out in support of slavery. And earlier this year, CPAC actually defended slavery during a forum on tolerance.
Could the conservative base demand Republicans vote to reinstate slavery?
Clearly, many Republicans long for the days when people of color were in chains. And what’s truly frightening is that a GOP Rep is actually telling his conservative constituents that if they want him to vote for reinstating slavery, he’ll do it. A Republican like Wheeler is a dream come true for members of the Tea Party. This is just one more reason why minorities are rejecting the GOP.
Considering that the conservative base has embraced blatant racism, it wouldn’t be surprising if they start demanding such votes from Republicans. Would the most conservative Republicans in government respond positively to such a demand from an extreme base that isn’t afraid to primary them? Maybe they wouldn’t do so in public just yet, but give them time. Of course, if Republicans do not start seriously embracing diversity, their presence in government will be so small that it may not even matter.