Where I Stand:

Even in retirement, Reid remains the leader


Steve Marcus

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks before a panel discussion with former Speaker of the House John Boehner at the Bellagio Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The panel was part of the inaugural symposium of the MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute at UNLV.

They call him leader. Because he is.

Harry Reid has been retired from the U.S. Senate and a long and distinguished record of public service since 2017. When he announced his decision to retire he was the Democratic leader of the Senate and the one man on the planet who could and did all that was required and all that was needed for his beloved Nevada.

Since he came back to Las Vegas he has had a few medical setbacks but, like everything else in his life, he has beaten them back and remains the same Harry Reid from Searchlight he has always been — except that he and his beautiful wife, Landra, live much closer to home.

But unlike most people who use retirement as an excuse for taking it easy and seeking new thrills out of life, Harry remains the leader. And Nevadans are the better for it.

I was thinking about my dear friends, President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who are speaking tonight at the Park Theater (if there are any tickets left, it should be a lot of fun with Las Vegas’ own Jan Jones Blackhurst moderating the evening), and all they have done for this world, this country and, yes, this state of Nevada. But, whatever they have done for this place we all call home was not done in a vacuum. There was a force of nature in the mix.

Whether it was the Clintons during their tenure or the good senator’s friend, President Barack Obama, whose deft and able hands helped Nevadans when we needed it most, their good deeds were encouraged and guided by Reid.

As we look back on the political maturation of the Silver State — and, especially, Southern Nevada — there is a constant thread that runs throughout the last half century. And that thread is a man named Harry who continues to sow the seeds of progress in a city that has set the bar for the entire nation as it grows to one of the most diverse, vibrant and active regions in the country.

We talk a lot about the need for real leadership — especially given the political climate that has gripped our country in a way that creates a state of high anxiety each and every day — but when we look around it is the lack of it that stands out the most. Yes, we have some potential leaders taking to the stage, but it remains to be seen who breaks out and who won’t.

Meanwhile, though, we have Harry Reid.

At a time when anti-Semitism has been growing at an alarming rate across the country and right here in Nevada, which Nevada leader stood up and said, “Not in my state” and “not without a fight?” That’s right. Reid partnered with the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV and brought in two of the most renowned experts on anti-Semitism who made sure our eyes were wide open and our minds were focused sharply on this scourge and how to combat it.

“When hate speech is brought up, when anti-Semitism is brought up, nip it in the bud. Speak out against it,” Reid said. And Reid did.

As the co-chairman of the MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute at UNLV, along with former Speaker of the House John Boehner, Reid brought a bipartisan focus to the need to create opportunities and educate the workforce for tomorrow’s jobs.

During a Q&A moderated by NBC’s "Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, Reid said, “We know there’s a lot of problems in Washington. I do not accept the fact that things are too much in turmoil that we can’t get things done.” That’s how leaders talk!

This past week, one of the great American heroes of our time, Al Gore, came to Las Vegas at Reid’s invitation to speak about global climate change. Gore is a hero because at a time when no one talked about it, the former vice president was sounding the alarm in Oscar-winning fashion. And at a time now when U.S. leadership at the highest level is denying what everybody knows for certain, Gore is proving that we can do something to save our planet.

Being a leader is sometimes difficult. Gore’s job is made easier because his dear friend, Harry Reid, is not afraid to do what is difficult. The result of that effort was a Ham Hall at UNLV packed full of Las Vegans who learned, once again, that climate change is real and perilous, but that we can and are doing something about it. We just need leadership.

Whether it is better jobs, a future without anti-Semitism, or just a future that doesn’t involve ice storms in summer and heat stroke in winter, it is clear that life’s challenges can be met if we have leaders to show us the way.

Nevadans are fortunate to have Reid. He has set the bar in Nevada for strong yet humble leadership. We could all benefit from a lot more of that.

Lead on, Harry Reid. No reason to stop now!

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun