Trump's Rally in Rural Minden Brings Backlash That Perfectly Paints Politics in the Silver State

AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar

Saturday’s Save America Rally with former President Donald Trump in Minden, Nevada has caused national interest in the small community of fewer than 3,500 people. The rally drew thousands of attendees, hit maximum capacity, and was broadcast to a parking lot for those who could not get into the venue.


The event focused on the campaigns of Adam Laxalt for Senate and Joe Lombardo for Governor, while Trump hinted at his potential re-election bid. 

This is the second time Minden has hosted such an event at the Minden-Tahoe Airport after a 2020 event was moved there because the Reno-Tahoe International Airport was canceled due to a capacity limit of 50 people imposed by Democrat Governor Steve Sisolak. But, it is not Minden’s gracious hosting of Trump, nor that he never forgot about little Minden and returned there that has made its rounds on social media. The discussion is about a siren that sits atop the volunteer fire station.

Like America on the whole, there is undoubtedly a racist past that can be seen in the archaic laws that used to be in the books. Until 1974, Minden had a sundown ordinance, with a 6 p.m. siren signaling for Native Americans who came into the town to work, to leave before 6:30. The siren has sounded almost continuously since 1921. In 2006, the county turned off the siren to have better relations with the Washoe Tribe. Two months later, after backlash, the siren sounded again, re-purposing the town’s siren atop the volunteer fire station as a tribute to first responders. In 2021, the state passed a law banning sirens that were historically associated with sundown laws and making provisions barring certain school mascots. 

Even before Sisolak signed the bill into law, Minden felt it did not apply to them and had no intention of implementing it as their siren was purchased years after the sundown ordinance went into effect and the town had dedicated it to first responders, 15 years prior. First responders were historically dispatched by this same siren. For many residents raised there, the siren was a unique part of their small-town upbringing and heritage often compared to a dinner bell.


In a consensus between the Washoe Tribal leader and the town’s manager, a deal was struck to change the time of the siren to signal at 5 p.m. to no longer coincide with the sundown ordinance that had been dismantled nearly 50 years prior. This was what the people who live there and are impacted by the issue decided amongst themselves. A joint statement between the Tribe and the town was released acknowledging that both things were true. That the volunteer firefighters and first responders were historically dispatched by the town siren and it now holds an emphasis on honoring those impacted by archaic sundowner mandates of the past.

If that is satisfactory for Minden residents and local tribal leaders, it should be good enough for all the people who don’t belong in the discussion. But, it’s not. Outsiders want to re-hash the issue because Trump showed up.

The thing is, the “fight” is not regarding the racial injustices of bygone eras, as those throwing salt in the wounds would like to construe the matter. The true context of recent power struggles has to do with the political culture of Nevada itself and the reason Trump would ever land in Minden, to begin with. Trump was hosted there because the Governor said they could not gather. Minden didn’t abide. And when a Democrat legislature used their limited number of bills to target the little town, they were not going to comply with that, either. Minden just wants to figure out their issues and not be told what to do by outsiders casting stones or targeting their peaceable community. 

AP/Reuters Feed Library

The political culture of Nevada is one of division. Some people would tell you the divide is between the Northern and Southern parts of the state. Some will say rural and metropolitan. The most basic concept is that Vegas is where the vast majority of the population lives and is given preferential treatment, often creating North v South or sparkly lights v ranch land tensions. I have seen this on display in a special session of our legislature where a mining tax to be imposed, (an issue that impacts the North) did not pass at that time. A Southern NV legislator had an outburst declaring that the state belonged to Las Vegas, basically leveraging threats that they would be back to get the tax money from them. 

As a Republican in the Southern part of the state, I can tell you those struggles even exist within the party. We know what our better half thinks of party members from Clark County. The North is often exasperated by our domineering influence, disconnect, and at times, outsized drama. To truly be representative of Nevada, you must consider every region and county. It’s easy to overlook sparsely populated regions, but it sure is not welcome to treat other Nevadans like you get to bully them around because you live in the tourist attraction part of the state. There is a difference between being “for Nevada” or “for Vegas” and if you want to make friends or secure an election, respecting other communities is how you do that. 


But, according to the legislature “the state belongs to the South”, remember? Everyone in the state lives under the rule of Clark County’s Democrat overlords sent up North for a few months bi-annually. The state’s capital is temporarily infested with a political breed that shows up, books a short-term rental, complains that it’s cold, stifles everyone else, and goes home for a year and a half. The Governor’s mansion is unoccupied, he is always in Vegas. It’s really easy to recognize how we have become a burden to the rest of the state that doesn’t identify with and hardly benefits from our existence aside from revenues that don’t get fairly allocated to them, anyway. 

That is what the Minden siren struggle is really about. Because they are small, they don’t get to decide how to handle their own town’s heritage and issues for themselves. They simply do not want legislators from 7 hours away who have probably never stepped foot in their hometown to impose hyper-partisan politics upon them, just because they can. They do not want to be targeted by a body they have very little influence in, while Vegas willfully forgets its historical faux pas as if during the same time frame black people were just welcomed to work and play on the Las Vegas Strip. Yeah, right.

So, while everyone not impacted gets on their soapboxes and does the virtue signaling about Minden, I have a suggestion: Pick on somebody your own size.



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