Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Susan La Tejana Ad, Parochialism Reigns Supreme

Mostly I stay out of the she said/she said back and forth of the race for governor. I’m more interested in the ideas, the serious talk about the future of New Mexico.
When sniping began (in the north, as I remember) about Susan Martinez’ birthplace, I felt the whole thing was silly, emblematic of a distasteful parochialism. The context, I remember, was some nonsense claim that Martinez might make pro-Texas water policy decisions as a result of her birthplace. It was enough to make one think that Val Kilmer meant exactly what he said when he made those tacky comments about his neighbors in San Miguel County.
Today things got a bit different. I saw a bumper sticker saying something to the effect of, “No to Susana La Tejana.” The parochialism has traveled south to Albuquerque, I thought. How annoying.
Then I happened to check, the informative and often delightful blog from Steve Terrell, political writer at The New Mexican. He has posted two new Denish commercials, one featuring Brian Colón, Denish’s running mate. Colón says of Martinez, “We know Susana Martinez is from Texas. We know she’s bought and paid for by a Texas billionaire.”
I don’t know Martinez’ relationship with the rich Texas guy, other than she got boatloads of money. Had I been able to interview Martinez, I would have asked. But Martinez manager Ryan Cangiolosi said no interview, so that’s a problem for Cangiolosi and Martinez.
1. This notion that birthplace matters is insulting to all New Mexicans. I choose to take the issue personally because, by chance, I was born in Oklahoma. Even though my parents had the good sense to get out of Oklahoma more than 50 years ago, the Colóns of the New Mexico world cast me as an inferior New Mexican.
2. Martinez invites the birthplace issue by finessing her birthplace. Her website says, “Susana was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley.” We have learned that she was born in the El Paso portion of the Valley. Big deal. Why the paranoia, Ms. Martinez? See
3. Denish was born in Hobbs, all of five miles inside New Mexico from Texas. She understands that people born in other states just might have something to offer. In my August 26 interview with her, she said, “You know half of the people in this state are not people who grew up here. There’s lots and lots of valuable expertise available to us now….”
This comment is in the interview transcript that was posted September 21. The comment is toward the bottom of the transcript.
The Colón ad suggests desperation.
4. A small potential exists that Martinez' birthplace and, much more important, growing up in the three state, two nation La Frontera environment might lead to better public policy decisions. New Mexico politicos have a not-so-grand tradition of ignoring the south. The complex reality is that we have around 2.5 million people in the three state, two nation area. Adding to the complexity is the drug war in Juarez. Just by living her life, Martinez knows this complex reality.
We can’t continue to make “only New Mexico decisions.” Water is just one policy arena where regional decisions are necessary. Basins don’t pay attention to political borders. In this area, basins wander across all the political borders.

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