© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 10/31/22
Young voters turn out in greater numbers
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
With the midterm elections days away, everyone is trying to predict who will vote. Older voters have been the most reliable voting block for decades with younger people being less inclined to vote in high percentages, especially in midterms. Since 2016 that has begun to change, but will it be true again this year?
In 2016 young voters (ages 18 to 29) made up a little less than 30% of the electorate, but they voted at lagging rates. After the 2016 election voting among this age group began to skyrocket. In the 2018 midterms, turnout increased from 20% in 2014 midterms to 36%. In 2020, a presidential year, young voter participation increased from 39% in 2016 to 50%. This voting power will only continue to grow as their numbers increase. Since the 2020 elections alone over 8 million young people, ages 18 to 19, have become eligible to vote and another 9 million will join this group of voters by 2024.
Increases in young voter turnout vary across the country by region. In the Southwest region, which comprises nine states including New Mexico and our neighboring states of Colorado and Arizona, there were increases of voting by young voters from 8% in New Mexico to 18% in Arizona. A closer look at this reveals some key factors. First, election laws are different from state to state regarding automatic voter registration, vote by mail, absentee ballot distribution and access to voting through early vote, number of voting sites and locations, and more.
Colorado was a national leader with the highest rate of youth voter turnout in the Southwest at 63% in 2020. This is due in part because they have created easy access to voting including automatic voter registration, pre-registration, on-line registration and allowing teens to serve as poll workers. And the state election code supports registration in schools.
To the west, Arizona had the greatest increase in youth voter turnout between 2016 and 2020, from 33% to 51%. People of color make up 51% of the population under 30. Hotly contested races in 2020 were undoubtedly a motivator. However, the increase came even though Arizona doesn’t mail ballot applications automatically or conduct aggressive outreach to voters to vote by mail.
In 2020 New Mexico had the lowest youth voter turnout in the region at 39%. The good news is that was an 8% increase from 31% in 2016. New Mexico does have a long early vote period and a statute allowing teens to work the polls after age 16. And county clerks have the option of mailing absentee ballot applications to voters, which many do. The Secretary of State has made it possible to easily request an absentee ballot online, and she continues to work with the Legislature to implement state-of-the art registration opportunities and automatic voter registration.
In other good news, a recent American Ad Council survey found that 59% of young voters intend to vote in 2022 and call it their “civic duty.” They believe elections and Election Day create a moment for them to have their voices heard – win or lose.
My inside source to Gen Z, my 19-year-old granddaughter, helped me understand why young voters are voting this year. Young voters support reproductive freedoms. They want gun safety laws, action on climate change, and investment in public education.
Times are changing and so is the electorate. By 2024 there will be more Gen Z and millennial voters than those from the boomer generation and older. Will they vote in this year’s midterms? My granddaughter’s answer was this: “Why would we stop now, when we have the numbers to make a difference?”
I’m with her.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 9/26/22
Ronchetti’s position on abortion is blowing in the wind
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
As someone who has been a statewide candidate, I know the pressures one feels as the weeks disappear. Polls are starting to emerge. Money gets tighter. And sometimes candidates retreat from or alter earlier positions – especially if they are running behind.
Such is the case with the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Mark Ronchetti. Three recent polls show Ronchetti is behind. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has a 12-point lead in one poll (Survey USA) and a 7-point lead in another (Research and Polling in the Albuquerque Journal).
And, on abortion, his position keeps changing.
Ronchetti has a new 30-second commercial with yet another new idea about having someone else make healthcare and reproductive choices for women.
Let’s acknowledge at the outset that Ronchetti’s stances on abortion are as varied as his weather predictions were on the New Mexico map. One day, he’s against “abortion at all stages.” Another day, he’s endorsed by Right to Life whose stance is to end abortion, period. Then he applauded the recent Supreme Court decision ending Roe v. Wade. But as the outrage about the decision increased, he began to waffle.
Suddenly, he announced he wanted to craft a compromise for a 15-week ban with some exceptions. Ironically, he was outed by mega-church pastor, Steve Smotherman, who revealed a conversation with Ronchetti. The pastor announced to his congregation that Ronchetti assured him this was just “a first step to help him get elected.” Then, he would work to ban all abortions. A video of Smotherman’s comments, which Ronchetti denies, went viral.
Now comes his most recent commercial on abortion. Seated comfortably with his wife beside him, he claims, “No politician should make this decision for you.” It’s a personal issue, he says. Let the voters decide.
Here is what he is really saying: Let politicians make all the decisions. Why? Because that’s how New Mexico ballot amendments work.
Under NM law, there are two methods available to put issues on the ballot. They both involve politicians, also known as legislators.
The most common method is by constitutional amendment. This process requires a joint resolution, sponsored by a legislator (aka politician). It must pass both legislative chambers. Legislators decide the exact wording of the resolution and the timing of the election. The governor has nothing to do with it.
Alternatively, there is a way that has never been successful in New Mexico history. Under this method a politician (aka legislator) must introduce a law. It must pass both chambers of the Legislature and be signed into law by a governor who is also a politician. Next, the people may challenge the law and force a vote.
An equally key point is the language in the New Mexico Election Code. Section 1-16-8 provides the following: “In no case shall a nonbinding or merely advisory question be placed on the ballot for any election held pursuant to the Election Code.”
Ronchetti’s idea as proposed is exactly that, advisory.
His commercial is short on specifics and long on rhetoric. It underscores Ronchetti’s lack of knowledge and experience. He either doesn’t know the law or is desperate and willing to mislead voters at this late date.
Regardless, a personal decision is different from the collective will of voters. And it’s a terrible way to make healthcare policy.
It’s already possible to go online and request your absentee ballot. Early in-person voting begins Oct. 11 and Election Day is Nov. The pressure is on.
No telling what Ronchetti will propose next related to women’s private healthcare decisions. I guess it depends on which way the wind is blowing.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 9/12/22
NM models election security as other states try to weaken it
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
New Mexico is a model of election security, but across the country there are multiple groups working to prevent eligible voters from voting and to intimidate and harass election officials and workers.
Honestly, there are dozens of examples but here are a few.
Montana: In 2020 Montana experienced the highest voter turnout since 1972. Much of that increase was fueled by a 40% increase among young voters since 2016. Most of us would see this as an achievement to celebrate. But the Montana Legislature went to work in 2021 trying to restrict voting, including eliminating student ID cards as a form of voter identification.
Arizona: This year the Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill that allows individuals or organizations to access the state’s voter rolls. It provides that anyone who accesses the rolls and finds a registered voter they think is ineligible may report it. Election officials may remove the voter without notifying them. Gov. Doug Ducey, who campaigned recently with the New Mexico Republican gubernatorial nominee, signed the bill.
Florida: There were only 75 cases of “potential” fraud out of 11 million votes referred to law enforcement in 2020. Regardless, Florida created an Election Police Force to investigate crimes and allow law enforcement to police voter locations, a proven voter intimidation tactic.
Pennsylvania: America First Legal, founded by Trump allies Steven Miller and Mark Meadows, recently filed a lawsuit in Lehigh County to limit the use of round-the-clock ballot drop boxes. In Lehigh, the fastest growing county in Pennsylvania, 48% of voters are Democrats, 34% are Republicans, and 18% are independents with a majority of women voters.
In Michigan, Arizona, Kansas, and other states, candidates discourage trust in voting. They continue spreading lies and disinformation about 2020 elections and claims of fraud that have been repeatedly disproven.
The constant intimidation of election officials and workers that began in 2020 is more disturbing. With less than 60 days to Election Day, election workers across the country are resigning due to toxic environments. New Mexico’s Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver recently testified before Congress that she was “doxed,” i.e., had her personal information, such as phone, address, children’s school, published on the internet in 2020. Her family was forced to leave their home with police protection. Since the 2022 primary, she has referred three credible threats to the FBI.
States like Texas and Florida are passing laws making it a criminal offense for election officials to help voters find out about how to vote or help correct ballot-request errors. In Florida, it is now an offense to pass out water to voters standing in long lines and scorching heat.
But in New Mexico, we use every possible tool to make sure voters can vote. Here are some of the tools in our toolbox:
· New Mexico has 28 days of early voting in all county clerk offices.
· Any registered voter in the state can vote by mail with no excuse required.
· Most counties provide round-the-clock ballot drop boxes under with current law. Drop boxes provide an important convenience to rural voters and those who can’t vote during regular business hours.
· New Mexico now has same day registration. With the necessary documentation you can register (or change your registration) during early voting or on Election Day. And student IDs are accepted!
Lea County Clerk Keith Manes, a Republican, told the Hobbs News-Sun recently that New Mexico is a model for secure voting and integrity. He provides a detailed description of machine testing, ballot security, and tabulating to assure voters of ballot security.
In New Mexico, access, security, accuracy, and resolute election workers create a system that is an example for the country. Let’s take pride in that!
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 8/29/22
Who cares about acting governor?
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
It’s hard to find humor in political news these days, but the spokesperson for candidate Mark Ronchetti, Enrique Knell, provided some for me last week.
Here’s what happened: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had declined an invitation to attend an Albuquerque forum hosted by NAIOP (National Association for Industrial and Office Parks) New Mexico.
In a clumsy effort to criticize the governor, here is some of what he said: “The governor arrogantly skipped out on New Mexico’s small business forum to hob-knob in Aspen,” he said in a statement. “She failed to tell the press or the public that she was out of state, which meant no one knew the lieutenant governor was acting governor. The public has a right to know who’s running the state.” But Knell was wrong about two things. There was no arrogance, and she didn’t ‘skip out,’ leave early, or say yes and not show up. She simply declined an invitation due to a conflict. Governors must balance lots of requests.
It’s true her office initially declined to say where she was that day but quickly remedied the situation. NAIOP was disappointed the date didn’t work but gracious about her absence.
The more humorous element was Knell’s assertion that no one knew Lt. Gov. Howie Morales was acting governor.
This is classic mountain-out-of-a-molehill strategy from an opponent who is lagging behind. Try to convince the public believe they are being deprived of information. In my eight years as New Mexico’s lieutenant governor questions rarely focused on being acting governor.
The governor at the time was Bill Richardson. He came to the office with a national reputation as ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Secretary of Energy. He was frequently invited to speak out of state. And he frequently made official trips promoting New Mexico, looking for new employers to woo, and securing federal financial assistance.
Consequently, I occasionally assumed the role of acting governor of New Mexico. While the press was interested in the governor’s travels, they didn’t ask, “Who is running the state?” Savvy Roundhouse reporters already knew.
The average New Mexican was not clamoring to know “who is running the state.” They had other things to worry about.
Occasionally, the governor’s absence would occur during a legislative session. As lieutenant governor, one of my duties was to preside as president of the state Senate. The rules are that if the governor is out of town on a legislative day, the lieutenant governor cannot preside.
But let’s assume that Knell’s demand to know “who is running the state” is not a gimmick but an honest question.
Here’s how it works: In June 2003, my first year as lieutenant governor, the governor was out of state. A fire ignited and was rapidly spreading in the bosque of Albuquerque. It was close to residential and business locations. Evacuations were under consideration. I knew the governor was out of state. The State Police alerted me to the fire and took me to the command station. My job as acting governor was not to take charge but to make certain that the city and county officials had whatever state resources they needed to help keep citizens safe. If emergency orders were needed from me as acting governor, I was there.
Knell’s assertion that no one knew the lieutenant governor was acting governor is just not true. Lt. Gov. Morales knew. The State Police knew. Those are the people who need to know.
As former spokesperson for Gov. Susana Martinez, Knell knows his claims are false. Maybe he is auditioning to get his old job back should Ronchetti prevail. If he is, let’s hope there are some other applicants for the job.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 8/15/22
Columnist and husband benefit from improvements in COVID medicine
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
Growing up, our family doctor reminded us there is a reason we refer to healthcare as “the practice of medicine.” Doctors and scientists need to be nimble and able to change course if needed. The more they practice the better they get.
This week the CDC changed the guidelines for protections from COVID. Before naysayers start criticizing the CDC for another change, let’s be honest.
Doctors and medical professionals at the CDC have been in uncharted territory. The most recent data, lab tests, clinical studies, and their expertise help them make decisions and recommendations for the public.
When the pandemic first took hold in the U. S., uncertainty was the only certainty. The first COVID case in the U. S. was in January of 2020. It was believed the first death was Feb. 29. With more data it was later confirmed there were 2 COVID-related deaths prior to that date.
As people began to die, reactions varied. The former President ignored it as long as possible. Meanwhile, the CDC and medical professionals continued to sound the alarm of escalating cases and deaths.
The CDC began issuing guidelines and restrictions in mid-March. The earliest involved travel bans from foreign countries. These were followed by stay-at-home orders, business closures, school closures and mask requirements. In New Mexico, the governor acted immediately following the President’s declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020.
Mass gatherings were banned on March 12. A three-week school closure went into effect the next day. Soon after, retailers were asked to follow masking and capacity guidelines to protect the public. On March 27, the governor announced schools would close through the end of school. We became first in the country to provide mobile testing sites.
By May 28 there were 100,000 deaths nationally – including 283 New Mexicans. Even so, cases subsided during the summer only to re-emerge in the fall of 2020. In December, the first vaccines became available. 2021was a year of amended orders, vaccine clinics, mandates and falling numbers.
Now, restrictions are gone, the economy is rebuilding, schools are opening for a new year and guidelines are changing. Ninety percent of New Mexicans have had one shot, and 72% are fully vaccinated, outpacing the three surrounding states. But 8,312 New Mexicans have died.
And COVID is still here.
This year, we too began to relax as New Mexico reopened. We continued to wear masks in crowded places but found ourselves returning to our 2019 normal routine. Air travel, restaurant patios, and then in mid-June we went to a movie – a crowded movie.
We aren’t certain, but we believe this is where, after two years and three months of caution, we contracted COVID. Four days after the movie, my husband tested positive. I began to cough and sneeze. After three negative home tests in two days, I went to a testing site. Bingo! Positive.
We are vaccinated and boosted. Reports suggest the current strain is less deadly. Still, a positive test is scary.
We looked up the current guidelines: Five days of isolation, five more days of masks. Beyond that, advice is limited.
We asked our physician about the anti-viral Paxlovid. As is best practice, she cautioned us about the effects of the drug. It is not FDA approved beyond emergency use. We secured a prescription. In three or four days we both felt better. Weeks later we are fine. We don’t know if our experience was made easier because we were fully vaccinated or because of the antiviral. Maybe both. What we do believe is we benefited from the “practice” of medicine – much of it in a time of uncertainty.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 8/1/22
Centuries of book bans haven’t discouraged desire to readBy Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
I recently visited a new Albuquerque library in the heart of the International District. I gave some books to the kids-book drive. Earlier I had sorted books to give to the community library in Hillsboro. While doing this, I recalled my own childhood library experiences.
My mom, an avid reader, took us to the Hobbs Public Library. We would read to our hearts’ content while she roamed the aisles for new readings. What I know now is that early reading was inspiring me to learn.
So, the renewed efforts to ban books tugs at me.
The first book ban in America was in 1642 when Thomas Morton wrote, “New English Canaan.” A dissident from Plymouth Colony, he attacked Pilgrims for cruelty to natives and religious zealotry. The book was banned and Morton arrested.
Fast forward through the years to the early 1940s when segregationists led the fight. In Georgia, Gov. Talmadge led a book burning of “We Sing America,” written by Marion Cuthbert. It made a plea for racial equality.
Book bans and bonfires continued during the civil rights movement. One target was “The Rabbits’ Wedding” by illustrator Garth Williams, published in 1958. A sweet story of two cottontail bunnies who marry in the forest, it was also the subject of rabid censorship efforts because one rabbit was white, one was black. The Jim Crow South didn’t approve. It’s notable that Williams also illustrated “Charlotte’s Web,” a much beloved children’s favorite, which was targeted in 2006 by zealots who believe talking animals are “blasphemous”.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s there were new efforts to ban books. Generally, these efforts originated from the right, with the most frequently banned books discussing racism. Books such as “Black Like Me,” “Manchild in the Promised Land,” and the most acclaimed novel over 125 year, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” drew the ire and fire of conservatives.
The left has its own efforts. “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” are constant targets of bans based on racial slurs and white-hero themes.
In the past, when stakeholders expressed concern about books in schools, for example, the parties would read the book, debate the appropriateness, and decide. Today, tactics have changed. Book ban promoters rarely read the content. Groups use meeting disruptions and publicity to generate anger. Librarians are threatened. Small libraries and school boards are overwhelmed with records requests that consume scarce resources. Disrupters travel from town to town like carnival barkers.
This year in Tennessee, “Maus,” a graphic story about a Polish Holocaust survivor, was banned. It is the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize. Allegedly banned for profanity (eight words) and violence, the author says a reading of the board minutes showed the real intent was a “nicer version” of the Holocaust.
The most extreme efforts are next door in Texas. House Bill 3979 restricts the extent to which students may read about or discuss race, racism, sexism, and history. Matt Krause, a Texas state representative, submitted 850 titles for review that might “make students uncomfortable.” He admittedly hasn’t read them. The authors are primarily women and people of color.
What hasn’t changed? We still want to read – wherever we are. We have dozens of rural libraries in New Mexico. A mobile library visits smaller villages weekly. Libraries provide digital services for checkout and audio books. In almost any neighborhood, you can spot a Little Free Library. Three hundred independent bookstores opened in the U. S. during the pandemic and not only survived but thrived.
And kids still go to the library on a Saturday morning, sometimes with their moms or dads and read to their hearts’ content.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 7/18/22
Hearings reconstruct chain of events leading to Jan. 6 attack
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
If you haven’t followed the Jan. 6th select committee the past year you are likely not planning to watch the final public hearing this week. I would suggest you think again and tune in.
This is the 8th hearing. It will be broadcast in prime time on Thursday, July 21, just over a year after the committee was formed. Even though some might think the committee has moved slowly, it is remarkable what they have accomplished. Let’s look.
In July 2021, Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed a diverse committee of highly skilled, thoughtful members of the House. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy nominated five members, two of whom Pelosi rejected. McCarthy then withdrew his nominees. Pelosi moved ahead and named Republicans Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois, to complete the committee. Former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman, of Virginia, joined the staff.
Over 1,000 witnesses have been interviewed and 125,000 documents reviewed. White House staff, Trump family members, advisors, and state election officials have testified under oath before millions of Americans. Powerful testimony by mostly Republican witnesses has spurred others to come forward.
The committee focused on seven areas:
1. False information, including the big lie, being fed to the public.
2. Attempts to corrupt the Department of Justice in service of the big lie and to install a conspiracy theorist, Jeff Clark, as Attorney General.
3. The public and private efforts by the former President Donald Trump to pressure Vice President Mike Pence into an illegal scheme to overturn the election.
4. Pressure from Trump on state election officials to “find” fraud or extra votes.
5. The attempt to create false electors in seven states, including New Mexico.
6. Incitement of a mob prior to and on Jan. 6 by Trump and those around him.
7. Trump’s failure to come to the aid of Congress when insurrectionists breached the capitol with weapons in hand.
Here is what we have learned from the testimony so far:
There was no voter fraud in the 2020 election. It was disproven in 64 lawsuits. The election was lost, not stolen.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr as well as other DOJ officials testified Trump pressured them to claim fraud in battleground states. Barr said Trump had no evidence and “no interest in the facts.” White House witnesses confirmed that on Jan. 4, Trump was informed that his plan to have Pence delay the certification was illegal. He didn’t listen.
Election officials from Arizona and Georgia testified that Trump directly pressured them to violate their oath of office and “find votes” or claim fraud to support his claims.
John Eastman, with Trump’s support, had a scheme to overturn the election by organizing false electors in seven states, including New Mexico where Biden won handily.
White House aides, insurrectionists, and advisors all testified that Trump’s rally, tweets, and social media communications leading up to and on Jan. 6 contributed to the attack on the capitol.
This week’s hearing will focus on the last area: Why did Trump fail to act when Congress and democracy were under attack. Why did he ignore calls from Republican Party leaders, family, advisors to DO SOMETHING?
The hearings are a reminder of what millions of us saw in real time that day. Jan. 6 was a bloody day. Insurrectionists brutally assaulted 150 police officers. Five people died. Elected officials and appointees were pressured to overturn a free and fair election. A mob was incited to violence. For the first time, the peaceful transfer of power was temporarily interrupted – inspired by the lies and actions of a sitting president.
It's not too late. Tune in. Hear the facts. See for yourself.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 7/4/22
Taking a moment to mark the passing of landlines
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
For the first time in my life, our household is without a land line. Research shows we are a little behind the times. And maybe it’s a generational thing.
I remember as a kid when my parents got a second land line for the kids in the family. We were teenagers and the phone was on a small table in the hall. There were many nights of long, lazy, talk-about-nothing conversations with friends and boyfriends. My sister and I would drag the phone in our room with the cord under the door and talk for hours – hoping our mom wouldn’t catch us in the middle of the night.
Those sentimental memories might be one reason for my attachment to a landline. We had one because, well, we had always had one.
Practically speaking though, there was nothing practical about hanging on to a landline in 2022. It was a $30 a month charge by Comcast/Xfinity in addition to our wi-fi, cable and other charges. We rarely checked the messages and when we did it was usually no one we needed to talk with. And then, we conservatively calculated that in the last 10 years we had spent $4,000 for a service we no longer needed.
A survey was done in 2018 by the CDC to determine what was happening with telephone use. At that time, 55% of households used only cell phones. In just over a dozen years, that number had increased from 10% to over half of households.
More than a third (36%) of households had both a mobile phone and a landline. We were one of those households. Just 5% of households had only a landline.
Those who used cell phones exclusively were found to be generally younger, healthier, and didn’t own their own homes.
My group, the 36%, were generally older and owned their homes. But, I wondered, why did we hang on to a landline for so many years when we almost exclusively used a cell phone to communicate? I inquired with other people who had done the same.
The bottom line was not sentimentality. Security drove the decision. What if the cell phone service failed? In my own urban area, the heart of Albuquerque, calls often get dropped, and the service can be poor. In rural New Mexico, the answer is unequivocally security, as cell service is often unreliable.
Landlines have been around for more than 146 years – from the time inventor Alexander Graham Bell secured the patent in 1876 – and made his first call. Before that, communicating across distance was virtually impossible. The landline and the telegraph changed that forever.
Telephones, like many inventions, were originally thought of as a novelty and only available to royalty. By the start of World War I there were 10 people to every landline and by 1945 there were 5 people to every landline. Forty years later in 1998, there was one phone for every man, woman, and child in the country.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that telephones were not only revolutionary but also revolutionized our lives.
Today, everyone carries a phone. Little kids to reach their parents. Teens to reach their peeps and to report in when not home on time. Young adults have them to track their kids and their parents.
When I asked some of these same people why they had cell phones with them all the time – beyond just communicating – the most frequent responses were “for safety,” “making sure my kids are safe,” and “recording terrible things happening.”
Turns out that from landlines to small computers in our pockets or purses, the safety and security of communicating and being in touch still drives our love affair with the telephone.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 6/27/22
Disappointing court decision presents opportunity to respond: Vote!
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
For every woman who might read this, welcome to being a second-class citizen. No matter your age, your ethnicity, your income status, your location in the country, this is what happened to all of us on June 24, 2022. For the first time in history, the Supreme Court of the United States took away a right. Women may no longer make their own healthcare decisions.
Some people say there is a lot to unpack in the Supreme Court decision. Not really. It’s simple. The court is on track to roll back our rights as citizens and this may just be the first of them.
But we should be clear – it’s not all about the final decision. It has been in the works for years, but recent actions helped the right be successful. When it couldn’t be done legitimately through well-established norms, they did it by lying to the country and changing the rules.
During the confirmation process, the truth was devalued by the three justices confirmed in the previous administration. To put it more bluntly, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch lied openly in their confirmation hearings to the committee and all of America when they claimed Roe v. Wade was established and reaffirmed precedent. They lied to become a part of the most powerful court in the country where they would never be held accountable as unelected justices. They were appointed by a president who we now know perpetrated lie after election lie, and they followed his lead.
Sen. Mitch McConnell spent the last years as majority leader bastardizing democracy. First, he denied Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the court, a hearing and an up-or-down vote in the U. S. Senate. His reasoning was that seven months was too close to the presidential election. Then he fast tracked all of the twice-impeached president’s nominees confirming Coney Barret just eight days before the election. EIGHT DAYS.
More than half of white women (53%) and the anybody-but-Hillary crowd gave us President Donald Trump. They green lighted the repeal of Roe v. Wade by voting for him or just not voting. They just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary – they didn’t “like” her. And polls show they didn’t believe that if Trump became president that Roe v. Wade would be overturned. Now here we are and the rights of women, members of the LGBTQ Community, and others are on the chopping block. Maybe now they get it – everyone’s rights are at risk.
Since the ruling there have been protests in almost every city. But this is the time for something different. People who support the right to privacy and don’t want to return to burning witches at the stake, as Justice Samuel Alito suggests, can’t just protest, lament and whine.
With every disappointment there is opportunity. This is ours. We know women, young people, and underserved groups can organize and turn out votes. The GOP has thrown up as many obstacles as possible, but we have done it before, and we can do it again.Americans who are reviled and frightened by this decision need to once again, step up.
The 70% of Americans who want our rights protected need to show up. We must organize to make sure every single person who is enraged or marginalized goes to the polls, wherever they live. We must talk to those with whom we live, work, and play and remind them that what is happening is not democracy. It is not equality. It is not equal just under the law. It is not America.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 6/6/22
Don’t look away from gun violence
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
Last week as I was preparing for a trip to Tulsa to see my daughter and family, a scroll came across the TV screen announcing a mass shooting in that city. In a medical facility. Having spoken to my daughter earlier, I knew she was taking her son to an appointment in the complex that day. Horrible thoughts ran through my head. What if?
My family had left the facility before the shooter showed up, a shooter who had purchased an AR-15 just two hours before the killings – no background check, nothing. This was the 243rd mass shooting in the United States this year.
Four families had their lives destroyed. Tulsa lost two beloved doctors, a patient, and a friendly receptionist. Survivors were in shock. The Tulsa World headline screamed “ATTACKERS KILLS 4” on Thursday.
My granddaughters picked me up. I hugged them with tears in my eyes. Grateful for their safety and their warm hugs, I was also weeping for the state of the country we live in together. A country where guns are not the American dream but the American nightmare. A country where lawmakers look away and distract us with excuses of mental illness, security doors, poor police response. A country where we fail to face the fact that the problem is too many guns and access to them. A county whose Second Amendment, with the help of the NRA and spineless leaders, has gone from “well-regulated militia” to an unregulated citizenry. A country where those same leaders are willing to sacrifice the right to grow up for the right to bear arms.
A country in which these are facts about gun violence:
Across the country, 311,000 kids have been exposed to gun violence since 1999. That includes kids in New Mexico: Roswell, Aztec, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Clovis.
In 2020 guns became the leading cause of death among kids and adolescents 19 and younger according to the CDC, surpassing auto accidents and disease. Gunfire killed 4,368 kids, and 60% of those were homicides. The remaining deaths were suicides and accidents.
Gun laws matter. In Florida and Texas where there are few if any gun restrictions, gun deaths are up 28% and 37% respectively. In states where gun laws are stricter, numbers have decreased by 10% or more. In California you are 60% less likely to die by gun violence than in Texas thanks to a combination of laws that work.
Ten years of the assault weapon ban made a difference. It didn’t stop every death, but it saved some lives. Gun massacres were reduced by 37%, and gun deaths fell 43%. Since 2004 when the ban expired, mass shootings rose nationwide by 183% and deaths by 239%.
In every high-profile mass shooting in the last 20 years – Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Orlando, Las Vegas, and now Uvalde – lawmakers have failed to act. Congress has blocked debate. They have chosen to delay and look away.
And yet, there are glimmers of hope.
Recent surveys show the American people get it. Across the country and party lines 88% support universal background checks, 67% support banning assault weapons, 67% support raising the age for purchase of firearms to 21, and 63% support banning the sale of high-capacity magazines (over 10 rounds).
Students and young people get it and have Marched for their Lives and passed legislation in Florida since Parkland in 2018.
Moms get it. (Along with Dads, grandparents, businesspeople, and others) Moms Demand Action was started after Sandy Hook and now has a chapter in every state working to prevent gun violence.
The glimmer of hope? Regular Americans are not willing to look away. Lawmakers shouldn’t either.