I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Why don’t moderate N.M. Republicans speak out?
Where’s Pete Domenici, whose upcoming “Domenici Public Policy Conference” at NMSU is advertised in these pages. The former senator moved further rightward over the years, but within the state party, he was a moderate. With know-nothings running the GOP, why doesn’t Saint Pete preach some decency?
And Manuel Lujan, where’s his voice? After all, the party of Lincoln has morphed into a fraternity of Southern white guys who bad-mouth Latinos, kneel to racist talk show hosts and coddle their long line of adulterers (the Christian moralist breed), from Gingrich to Sanford.
Of course, the local party long ago disrespected Lujan, the former congressman and Interior secretary, when it ousted him as New Mexico’s Republican National Committeeman in favor of hard rightist Mickey Barnett. Lujan was conservative but no extremist. That also describes Garey Carruthers, the former GOP governor.
The silence of Lujan, Carruthers and especially Domenici is very loud these days.
According to various surveys, the national Republican Party is losing its collective mind. Witness: Approximately 58 percent of Republicans believe Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen (the “birthers”) or aren’t certain. About two-thirds deny climate change or don’t think it’s serious. And 75 percent of Fox News viewers believe a health care reform bill exists that sets up “death panels.” (From an NBC poll cited by the Washington Post Aug. 24.)
Clearly, today’s GOP is not reality-based.
But it gets worse. Stone-faced men brandish lethal weapons at presidential and other town halls, yet no prominent Republican has taken the podium to say, “Cool it.” No matter that the Department of Homeland Security and the Southern Poverty Law Center have issued warnings of mounting violent right-wing extremism. No matter that rightist arms have already taken lives.
Of course, the GOP is not just far-right true-believers and crazies. But its leadership isn’t condemning them. This reflects a new, radicalized GOP. Once, the party boasted sane conservatives — Dole, Ford, Case, Keane, Javits, Percy, Scranton, Romney (the elder), Taft, Aiken, Brooke, Saltonstall, Chaffee (the elder) and Margaret Chase Smith among them.
Though his economics hurt most Americans, Reagan wasn’t mean. Nor was Barry Goldwater. And Richard Nixon proposed health care reform. But today you can count the number of moderately conservative Republicans in the U.S. Senate on one hand and have three fingers left over. I’m thinking, of course, of Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. OK, add Indiana Senator Dick Lugar when he’s in foreign policy mode. That’s three.
In New Mexico, this extremism means Republicans probably won’t regain power despite Democratic sticky-finger disease. That’s partly because they’re a small band of free enterprise fanatics, corporate welfare warriors and religious jihadists, devotees of Rovian ethics, happier to cry “Socialist” than solve American problems.
It’s also because some of the most influential Republicans seem to be uncomfortable with Hispanics.
Recall that Sergio Garcia, who spent three whole months as deputy executive director of the state GOP, wrote a letter detailing why he quit. He wasn’t as ideological as his bosses, Garcia wrote, and they differed on appealing to Hispanic voters. “What bothers me is that most of our party leadership at a state level does not understand what Hispanic outreach means.” He added, “They don’t get it.”
Party chair Harvey Yates, of the family that operates Yates Petroleum of Artesia, denied Garcia’s claims.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s embrace of ignorance and lunacy here and nationally is a break for President Obama. But his own party is undermining him, which I plan to explore later this week.