Politics has been a part of my life since before I was of legal voting age. My family and I have worked to help Christians and conservatives through grassroots efforts and to promote candidates on the federal, state, and local levels.
I was also blessed to have seen from the ground up the Republican organization — also known as the “machine” — as I often call it or have heard it referred to, at work in our state. On both sides, many Democrats and Republicans call it the “Establishment,” which is now virtually a dirty word. Many of the finest and most selfless folks I know work in these ranks.
Early on in life, I learned the importance of our local party chair and the subsequent infrastructure involved at every county level across the state. Poll watchers, poll captains, and workers who, for no money, tirelessly worked not only recruiting but, promoting candidates and, even more importantly, working to protect our voting.
Being a rancher and in the Ag industry, as a young man I was involved with organizations such as People for the West — a strong grassroots effort in the ‘80s. More recently, many of you may know me from my efforts in promoting President Donald Trump, candidates, and issues while riding horseback at rallies around the state. Simultaneously, as a youth and college student, I recall my folks receiving calls from who I would consider “Heavy Hitters” or household political names from around New Mexico asking not for money (well, some did), but for support. Those calling from the “Establishment” had learned if my family said “yes,” they would be ”all in” and work tirelessly to get the job done.
The grassroots folks are also volunteers passionate about their causes; whether working the land, rural New Mexico, life, or freedom, they give of themselves tirelessly and to the point of exhaustion. I have noticed being in both worlds (grassroots and Establishment), I saw the same people at “Establishment” party conventions year after year, and being a part of the grassroots effort, I saw many of the same grassroots faces promoting and rallying weekend after weekend.
Folks getting tired, discouraged, and frustrated intensified especially with the current economy and level of craziness from our government and politicians. In the past, most public dissent came from those I seldom saw at rallies or working at our local party headquarters. Being they were not involved on a ground level, it was easy to criticize or Monday morning quarterback. I think many of those are now the secret sideline agitators stirring up dissent between those who are working.
However, I see another phenomenon much of which I credit to the rise of social media. Now we are publicly verbally shooting at each other. It has become all too easy to put our thoughts into a quick post. We all have thoughts, some good, some bad, but the “post” button has taken expressing them to a new low level for our society. Attacks being made on our party leadership, primarily former Congressman Steve Pearce, I feel, are taking us into the perilous ground for our party.
I am astonished at some of what has been said, how quickly we turn on one who fought so hard for New Mexico. Steve is also a decorated U.S. Air Force Captain, a pilot in the Vietnam war. I guess the old saying it is not what you have done lately but, what have you done for me now! Such as calling him a “RINO.” Has anyone been reading the news? Congressman Pearce stood steadfast by President Trump and was vocal in calling out voter fraud in spite of attacks from local media. He stood while real RINOs ran for cover! Time and space prevent me from covering countless other comments or accusations.
An example of recent attacks and criticism was placing the defeat of Mark Moores squarely at the feet of our former Congressman-turned Chairman. I will point out many folks were upset when Moores was chosen by the State Central Committee. Some folks I talked to personally thought one of the others who stepped forward for the State Central Committee to choose from would have been a better fit and a stronger candidate. I am a State Central Committee member and delegate. However, I didn’t have any say or vote in the First Congressional District race, nor did other delegates from Districts 2 or 3, nor did our Chairman have the ability to influence who would eventually run against Stansbury in the special election.
As a demonstration of our current Chairman’s ability to put people over politics, I wanted to share one story of the seemingly forgotten time when Steve was our Congressman. In 2013 we had a catastrophic forest fire in the Gila Forest — the Silver Fire. It spanned several private ranches which included forest allotments. It wiped out acres of timber, wildlife, cattle, and improvements. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) initially took the stance that the ranchers /allotment owners were responsible for miles of burned fences.
We reached out to Congressman Pearce, as such a financial burden would likely be catastrophic for any operation. Congressman Pearce took on the USFS, making the accurate case that the poor condition of the forest which led to fires was due to mismanagement by the USFS. A scheduled meeting in Truth or Consequences was the turning point when the Congressman came and stood shoulder to shoulder with a handful of ranchers.
Touching story, why is it pertinent today? Many politicians would have maybe written a letter or made a phone call as our numbers as constituents are not enough to make or break in votes during an election campaign. That made no difference to the Congressman. He wanted to see the right thing done. Now, is Chairman Pearce perfect? No. He, as all of us, can always improve and better ourselves in our efforts for the party, our state, and our nation. The Republican Party of New Mexico (aka, the “Establishment”) has flaws and areas for improvement, just like any other organization.
It is imperative the two approaches put differences aside and see that RPNM needs the energy and new ideas only the grassroots can offer, just as the grassroots need the stability, infrastructure, and organization of the RPNM to mobilize its ranks. Our party is not and should not be in the business of picking favorites. That is what the primary process is for. Once a candidate prevails through the primary process, then our party should do everything it can to get them into office. I see, and continue to see, many good Conservative candidates often choose to vie for the same seat and have a very competitive primary. In a perfect world, we would spread our talent around to avoid these “competitive” primaries where we beat each other up while diluting precious resources. Although we don’t live in a perfect world, we can learn to not tear each other down but instead, rally around what we have in common. Let’s not waste effort fighting over the little we disagree on. Often our pride and selfish ambition stand in our way. For the sake of our state and nation, we must put aside our differences and work together.
The RPNM needs to work on finding ways to participate and help those working the grassroots efforts. Conversely, the grassroots would benefit in seeking ways to benefit from the RPNM’s infrastructure, resources, historical experience, and data to focus some of their energy into an effective movement to fight for our freedoms through the ballot box. I know some efforts have been made which some were rebuffed or didn’t receive the desired reception. Could be that both groups might step back and get a look at the strengths the other brings to the effort.
These are age-old issues. Just as our founders found harnessing patriots who showed up to serve in the ranks of our Continental Army, pulling together is often easier said than done with independent, hard-working, self-reliant people who made up the ranks that stepped forward to free us from a tyrannical government. Our founders and patriots were able to pull together to become the fighting force that defeated the greatest standing army in the world at that time despite being very independent states with fiercely independent citizens.
To defeat the British, both sides saw that they must choose to work together to win. Today, our ranks are still filled with independent, hard-working people who seek to stand and fight for freedom. Just like our forefathers did, we must come together for the sake of freedom. Our children and grandchildren depend on us to do nothing short of that.
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – President Andrew Jackson
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