Shelley Berkley (NV): ‘I’m Anxious for Things to Be Normal Again’
Shelley Berkley (68), a Democrat from Las Vegas, NV, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms (1999-2013), representing Nevada’s 1st District, which includes Las Vegas. In 2012, she ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. While in Congress, she was an outspoken supporter of Israel. At Touro University, Berkley oversees two medical schools—in Nevada and in northern California.
What are the three issues you are most concerned about?
Number one is restoring the rule of law and adhering to the U.S. Constitution. Number two is affordable health care and access to health care. The third is ensuring that every child in the United States has the ability to obtain a good education. If I could have a fourth it would be Israel—that’s very important to me.
Are any policy positions make or break for you?
I could not support someone who does not support Israel. I also couldn’t support someone who didn’t believe in climate change and someone who wants to separate families at the border. We do need good immigration reform, however. Also, I wouldn’t support someone who is pro-life.
Does religion affect your political views?
It’s not religion per se. It’s more cultural. My views mirror the sentiments of the majority of Jewish Americans. We all want a good education for our kids, we want access to health care, we want a free society where we can practice our religion. It’s important that you tell the truth, that you are honest, that you care about others, you do tzedakah, you work hard and take care of your family. Those are Jewish values and those are American values.
What personal traits matter to you most in choosing a candidate for president?
Integrity, experience, ethical behavior and character. I never thought I would have to be searching for these traits in a candidate, but I guess now I do.
What traits are unacceptable to you in a candidate?
Lying, lack of understanding of the Constitution and not recognizing that we have a Constitution and democracy based on the rule of law. All of these have to be followed or there is chaos — and that is what we are experiencing now.
Are there political disagreements in your family?
For right or wrong, we all have the same opinions. We’re one of the lucky families. Thanksgiving is our big holiday. This year, we will have 62 people. Last year, there was a lot of talk about not talking politics at your Thanksgiving table. We looked around and we said, “Is there anybody that supports Trump?” Nobody did, so we all discussed politics. But it’s very easy to talk politics when everybody agrees with you.
Why do you support Biden?
I’m anxious for things to be normal again. I don’t like drama. I clashed with Obama on any number of occasions when I was in Congress, but I never doubted his motives. I am anxious to support a candidate who has experience, has knowledge, has a temperament that I am comfortable with. Not someone who is so narcissistic that their own welfare supersedes the welfare of our country. I don’t fear that with Joe Biden. I also like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. I think he is a knowledgeable young man, but I don’t think either of them can beat Trump. In the real world, I’m sorry to say, I don’t think Pete would be electable.
Would you vote for any of the Democratic candidates over Trump?
Bernie is unacceptable and I am not prepared to vote for Elizabeth Warren. I don’t know right now what I would do if either of them got the nomination. But I would never vote for Trump.
Do you anticipate any surprises in this election?
There is nothing I would put past Trump. If he is losing, there is no telling what he would do, and that includes precipitating a war and refusing to leave office. And with such a spineless Republican Senate, I have zero confidence that they would stand up for the Constitution. They haven’t done it yet, and I don’t know why they would do it a year from now.