Brookings Mountain West is pleased to collaborate with our colleagues at the Brookings Institution and offer a series of public policy articles in advance of the 2016 presidential election. Brookings Mountain West, a unique partnership between UNLV and the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution enlisted a roster of public policy experts to author a series of articles on a issues important to Nevada and the nation. The essays appeared in two local publications. The Sunday and the Las Vegas Sun in the summer and fall of 2016. We hope you enjoy reading the informative and provocative essays published in this series on topics including but not limited to K-12 education, marijuana legislation, foreign policy, poverty, social mobility, alternative energy, the U.S. Congress, and others.


Inequality, the issue that set Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination alight, has gone underground in the presidential contest.

While economic anxiety writ large may be on the radar this election season, the new geography of poverty is not.

In the wake of recent attacks across the globe, fears over terrorism, immigrants and illicit drugs have been used to justify costly proposals for thousands of miles of walls along our Southern border and bans on the admission to the United States of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, or even bans on entire religious groups.

The media have clearly failed us all. That seems to be the resounding take on this election.

At the end of July, shortly after retired Gen. John Allen spoke at the Democratic National Convention, Gen. Martin Dempsey, retired chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, criticized Allen for his involvement in this year’s presidential race. Allen has taken the stance that Donald Trump could cause a historic crisis in civil-military relations because of Trump’s stated intention to order the military to commit illegal or immoral actions such as waterboarding and carpet bombing.

Those working in the education policy industry, as I do, always find reasons to complain during presidential election cycles, and the bellyaching seems amplified this year. What is our complaint? That our darling area of public policy receives so little attention in the limelight of civic debate that comes with the general election.

November will be an interesting time for marijuana-reform policy in the United States, and Nevada will play a prominent role in that process. As five states consider joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia in legalizing recreational adult use of marijuana, understanding this policy and the systems around it has never been more important.

Now that the conventions are over, let the prognosticating begin. While the eyes of pundits and the public may be glued to daily polls, it is important to consider the sharp demographic fault lines behind these numbers.