Our new Governor, Brian Sandoval, sounded a most welcome optimistic note as he took the oath of office on the Capitol steps last Monday.
"It has been said that optimism is the foundation of courage, and rarely has our state been so in need of courage," Sandoval said in a brief inaugural address. That's true, of course, and I wish him well in his search for solutions to a series of tough challenges, starting with a huge budget deficit.
Sandoval and his young family will set a new tone at the Governor's Mansion. His congenial style will be much closer to that of the late Gov. Kenny Guinn than to that of ex-Gov. Jim Gibbons, who was an embarrassment to our state. Sandoval is a moderate Republican who will attempt to work with a Democrat-dominated 2011 Legislature when lawmakers hit town next month.
The governor and legislators will have to compromise in order to get anything done during the upcoming legislative session. In doing so they'll have to endure the slings and arrows of no-tax conservatives on the right and tax-and-spend liberals on the left. This kind of political extremism works against the best interests of the people of our state and I urge Gov. Sandoval and lawmakers to work together on behalf of the voters who elected them rather than to attempt to score hollow political victories.
One major problem facing our nation is the tendency to polarize American politics - an "I win only if you lose" approach to serious issues like the economy and health care reform. For example, House Republicans will immediately attempt to repeal President Obama's health care plan. Wouldn't it make more sense to retain the positive provisions of his plan, like no denials for pre-existing conditions, than to repeal the whole thing? Or am I being hopelessly naïve?
The flames of destructive extremism are fanned by haters and shouters at both ends of the political spectrum. Ultra-right wingers call President Obama an anti-American Muslim while left-wing extremists accuse Tea Partiers of being uninformed know-nothings. As usual, the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.
As someone who hasn't been active in party politics since I worked for Gov. Grant Sawyer - a moderate, states' rights Democrat - in the 1960s, I'd like both parties to turn down the volume in 2011. That's highly unlikely, however, with a presidential election on the horizon next year.
Can Democrats and Republicans come together in Carson City and Washington to do the peoples' most important business? Like Gov. Sandoval, I'll try to remain optimistic about the future as we begin a New Year.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, has been a Nevada voter since 1962.