Jim Wheeler, a Republican assemblyman in Nevada, is in the middle of a firestorm after saying he would vote in favor of slavery if demanded to do so by his constituents. Though he said so in August, his words have only recently come to light on YouTube (they have since been removed). In the video, Wheeler is speaking to a group of Republicans about his strategies for governance:
"If that's what they wanted, I'd have to hold my nose, I'd have to bite my tongue and they'd probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah, if that's what the citizens of the, if that's what the constituency wants that elected me, that's what they elected me for," he said. "That's what a republic is about."
Democrats and Republicans have raced to denounce Wheeler's statements, calling his words inappropriate and offensive. The outrage has been focused on the racist implications of reestablishing slavery. Americans are rightfully horrified that anyone could conceive of re-instituting the violent, oppressive system of race-based imprisonment.
Amidst the outcry, little public response has addressed the disturbing constitutional implications of Wheeler's willingness to permit the majority to eliminate the rights of the minority. Wheeler's statements may indicate how many Tea Partiers view the government's role in protecting inalienable rights. As a party founded on the tenants of small government, Wheeler is unlikely to be the only politician with an unhealthy devotion to majority rule.
Wheeler believes his words have been taken out of context. On his website, he released a statement blaming the liberal media for twisting his image and attempting to portray him as a racist.
"The media is having a good time with a clearly facetious statement I made in a town hall meeting earlier this year," Wheeler stated on his website. "They're attempting to spin an extreme example I used about supporting my constituents to accuse me of being racist. Anybody that knows me knows that's absurd, and anyone that views the comments in context understands that the whole point of the example is that racism of any kind is something that I find completely unacceptable."
Wheeler's back-peddling is unlikely to salvage his collapsing career. Fellow Nevada State Senator Michael Roberson has already called for his resignation on Twitter, writing, "It's time for Jim Wheeler to find a new line of work,." More demands are sure to come.