Yes, that's right. I'm finishing off this series with you. YOU were the biggest story of 2010.
You decided this election. You spent even more time volunteering than I! You helped your fellow Nevadans in need. You spoke out when necessary. And you will be essential in shaping Nevada's future in 2011 and beyond.
We've heard so many stories of what we supposedly are. Apparently we're stupid, uncaring, lazy, and violent... If we're to believe some of the media coverage of us over the course of this year.
And let's face it, it's much easier to believe the stereotypes of Nevadans than to take the time to really get to know us. It's easy to look at the numbers, but it's harder to look at the stories behind the numbers.
I actually did that. I met the kids who confronted Sharron Angle at Rancho High School over her race-baiting ads. I met my typically Republican neighbors in Henderson who voted early for Harry Reid. I met people who drove many miles to Dina Titus' campaign office because they believed she was "the real deal". I met folks pissed off at everyone and everyone, because they felt "overwhelmed" by all the negative campaign ads. I met volunteers who tuned out the political insanity as they were collecting food for the hungry, keeping community centers open, making parks and trails accessible to all the neighbors to use, and keeping the local libraries running with new and interesting knowledge just around the corner. Oh yes, and I even met a few teabaggers who are still in shock over the final election results.
All of us here in Nevada were able to catch what most of the public polls couldn't. We were able to listen to what Nevadans were actually saying, as opposed to what Nate Silver and Chris Matthews thought they were hearing.
I heard from parents frightened about their kids' future. I heard outrage over the all the cuts to public education. I heard from unemployed workers wondering where (and when) they will find work again. I heard frustration over all the broken promises of a better and more stable economy. And I heard from people still clinging onto hope that somehow, someday, our state will survive this and be a better place.
2010 was a very challenging year. The casinos couldn't make all our problems go away. The recession wasn't so much a "temporary blip" as it was a long overdue reality check that's forcing us to rethink everything.
Over the years, many authors have come to "investigate" Nevada and uncover all our "deep, dark secrets". We've been called everything from "The New American Dream" to the most evil, corrupt hellhole on the planet. However, you showed me that reality is quite different from any fairy tale or horror story shared by outsiders. You showed me that Nevada can be rough, but the people can be awfully tough.
You made me realize that my own preconceptions of life in The Silver State were wrong. You mean I can live near all these slot machines and life will go on? You mean not everyone here is a sex-addicted, gambling-addicted alcoholic doing raves and poker tourneys every night?
It's easy for outsiders to stereotype you, and it's easy for them to ignore what you're trying to say... Except when your statement shatters what was "expected", then they suddenly don't know what to say next. Were the polls wrong? Were they swayed at the last minute? Where did the "momentum" go? What are these people thinking?
You made me listen to you in 2010... And I'm looking forward to what you have to say in 2011.