Sun editorial:

Nevadans must seize this chance to steer the direction of the nation

Democratic strategist James Carville’s recent harangue about the party included some remarks that seemed designed to shock rather than inspire, but he was on point about one thing.

“We have one moral imperative, and that’s to beat Donald Trump,” Carville told MSNBC in a rant that went viral.

That’s not hyperbole. Trump’s authoritarian assault on our democracy must be stopped, which is a key reason it’s critical for Nevada Democrats to participate in this year’s state caucuses.

The outcome could go a long way in determining which candidate has the best chance of defeating Trump. Here’s why:

For starters, Nevada is the first state in the process that looks like the nation overall in terms of ethnic diversity — at 29% Latino, 10% black and 10% Asian-American or Pacific Islander, Nevada reflects the makeup of the national electorate far more than Iowa and New Hampshire, whose populations are 85% and 90% white, respectively. We’re also the first state with a metro area of more than 1 million (Las Vegas, with 2.2 million) to vote.

That being the case, the contest stands to identify the candidate who can capture across-the-board support nationwide, as opposed to mostly white, rural voters.

In addition, Nevadans have a knack for choosing centrist candidates who shun extremism and instead take a coalition-building approach to leadership. Just take a look at our last two governors, moderate Republican Brian Sandoval and moderate Democrat Steve Sisolak, and consider some of the candidates who’ve lost at the polls — GOP culture warriors like gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt and congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian.

We tend not to focus on candidates’ gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or party affiliation, but rather on whether we think they can build consensus and craft policies that serve the interests of those they serve — not just their parties and core supporters.

With our recent voting record, Nevada is poised to show the nation which of this year’s candidates would be the best antidote to Trump’s divisive presidency.

For state Democrats, caucusing this year isn’t just a matter of being a good citizen. The stakes are nothing less than the nation’s democracy, the global climate and the safety and well-being of both American citizens and the outsiders seeking refuge in our nation.

Emerging from his impeachment trial, Trump has little to deter him from pursuing his ambitions to gain dictatorial power. Senate Republicans, in embracing attorney Alan Dershowitz’s chilling argument that Trump could widely abuse his authority in the name of acting in the national interest, opened the door wide for him to wreck the system of checks and balances.

Meanwhile, another Trump term would be disastrous for the planet amid his ongoing dismantling of environmental regulations and the accelerating pace of global warming. And here at home, untold numbers of people of color and disadvantaged Americans will suffer due to Trump policies on the economy, health care and immigration.

So here’s hoping the Nevada caucus crowds are robust and diverse, including in ages.

For young voters, especially, participation is critical. They’re the ones who’ll be living in a nation and world made increasingly chaotic, volatile and at-risk due to the actions of older generations. Younger voters deserve a loud say in choosing today’s leaders. They have one thanks to their numbers — Generation Z is the largest in the U.S. — and their increasing political mobilization behind such issues as gun violence and climate change.

They must not waste that voice. This is the time for those voters not just to speak but roar.

As always, there will be naysayers on the sidelines trying to dissuade voters from caucusing. They’ll complain that the caucus process needs to be modernized or junked, and they’ll point to the disaster in Iowa as proof of their point.

But they’re not worth listening to. Not ever, and especially not this year.

Yes, things went bad in Iowa, but the Nevada Democratic Party took lessons in the failures there and has worked to prevent such problems in our caucuses.

But the bigger picture is this: Faced with the most undemocratic and un-American president in U.S. history, it’s as important as ever for Nevadans to take a stand for the nation by voting at every opportunity. The caucus is our first opportunity of 2020 to do that.

Editor’s note: The caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 22, but early voting will be available Saturday through Tuesday at locations throughout the Las Vegas Valley. For a list of early voting sites, click here.