Archive

Posts Tagged ‘republicans’

New Mexico’s Congressional District 2: Who Said We Didn’t Matter?

December 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Lots has happened since my last blog post this past summer.  First and foremost, I’m sorry to all my readers who have desperately waited for a timely post from me.  My apologies.  It would be easy for me to just say that there was nothing to write about.  But that’s not true at all.  In fact, there was a ton of stuff to write about.  I just couldn’t find the time to sit down and write.  But that will all change.  I promise.

Regarding my last post, we have yet to see the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, which I wrote about earlier this year.  My last piece regarded an action organized by the Alliance for Peace and Justice in Roswell, right outside the office of our representative, Congressman Steve Pearce (R).  Sadly, Mr. Pearce continues to be a disappointment.  Not only did he recommend that those affected by the government shutdown go out and get a loan from the bank to make it through the shutdown, he spent most of the summer and early fall advocating for inhumane alternatives directly affecting 12 million undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.  Which pretty much calls for a second class citizenry, which I countered in an op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal. I wish I could say he was the only radical conservative offering up some awful policies, but he wasn’t.  Other conservatives in Congress join Representative Pearce in these same efforts.

Despite this lack of leadership from our Congressman, many see the immigration issue not yet dead (depending on who you talk to) In fact, some advocates still see the possibility for immigration reform, even if piecemeal — which many predict for 2014.  This may be possible considering that next year is a big year in politics, as members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are up for reelection and support of good policy helps garner votes. Also, there is President Obama who desperately needs a win.

My immigration post also coincided with my decision to move to Las Cruces — a move that was a welcome relief to friends and colleagues on the west side of congressional district 2. Despite what some may think, my hometown of southeastern New Mexico is not a lost cause for progressives like myself (I will be back). But with a burgeoning democratic base in the southwest, I can’t help but be excited about playing a role in a movement to transform this part of New Mexico. Our progressive homies north of I-40 should be paying close attention and take notes. When people think “New Mexico Politics,” Albuquerque and Santa Fe should not have the final word.

Despite being under resourced and underserved, CD2 shall not be ignored.  In fact, it is ground zero for real change.  This region has the potential to redefine politics in our state for years to come.  It can also be a model for other states across the country, facing some of the same political and social challenges our region faces each and every day. We’re a rural, conservative region — separated by miles and miles of open space.  Door hangers, social media and emails don’t win over the masses.  It has to be much more holistic than that.

The secret is simple.  It’s about building long lasting relationships.  It’s about connecting with families and individuals about common values. It’s about community organizing.

When President Obama came into the spotlight and talked about his work as a community organizer in south Chicago, those on the right found this work absurd. There was that moment during Sarah Palin’s speech during the 2008 Republican National Convention when she laughed at the whole concept. Winking her eye at those of us watching.  She laughed because like her colleagues on the right, they don’t understand this committment to organizing as being a tool for social justice and progress because this isn’t what its about for them.  Engaging their community in discussions on making things better is the absolute opposite of what they want.

Think about it.  Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting at a kitchen table, strategizing with close friends on how to make the world a better place to live for everyone? Him and his crew never sat around conducting a power analysis to demonstrate “people power.” They did power analysis to demonstrate how to take that people power away!

That’s the difference between us and them.

You transform the makeup of the political spectrum when you engage communities in conversations about real issues that affect our towns and villages.  You build on issues that directly affect each and every one of us and overtime you see real change.  Why? Because I whole-heartedly believe that our progressive values are values people believe in across the board.  It’s just a matter of engaging our community in these one-on-one conversations and to act on them.

We win elections when we sit down and learn from each other, developing strategies around the ideas that come from those we directly serve.  We develop leaders from our communities to bring forth change. We create opportunities for real change.

Will all this win elections tomorrow? No.

But overtime we transform ideas to greatly improve our communities.  That is the goal.

This is the game progressives should play because it comes naturally.  We are inclusive of everyone.

We are on the right side of history.  

This I know.

But being an organizer is not easy.  In fact, it’s one of the hardest jobs you can ever have.  But the effects of organizing are long lasting, if we take the time to invest in it.

We win elections when our community stands behind us. When we demonstrate true leadership and hone in on what the overall consitutency needs and wants.  Not what the few benefit from.

When we take on this philosophy, at all levels of leadership, we provide an outlet for our community to have real power.  We do this and we will never have to worry about losing another election that stands for progressive values.

It’s important that I write all of this because we’re at a crucial juncture here in New Mexico.  We rank last on all the good stuff and first on all the bad.  Sure, it’s fun to see the other side implode, but what does that do for our community? I find it shameful when I attend these democratic/republican events and people are excited to see the other side looking foolish. What does that do for our neigbor who can’t find work?

Politicizing issues that are important to our communities do nothing but sustain a status quo.  At what point do we say enough is enough?

My work in CD2 is crucial.  I know I’m not the only one who believes this.

To be continued.   

Advertisements

Immigrants Advocate While Democrats Infiltrate: Politics As Usual When It Comes To Talks On Immigration Reform

July 18, 2013 2 comments

7:17:13 Day of Action 1Yesterday in Roswell, the Alliance for Peace and Justice, a group of activists promoting equality for Roswell and all New Mexican’s, organized a vigil outside of New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce’s office.  With over 60 activists in attendance, the Congressman was presented with a letter urging him to support their cause for immigration reform.  In the letter, the Alliance states,

Over the past decade we have doubled the number of border agents and vastly expanded border security spending, and now by every measure our border is more secure. Now a common sense roadmap exists that includes responsible enforcement and a citizenship process making us even safer, and our economy stronger.  To spend any more money militarizing our border would be fiscally irresponsible, and hindering the debate on immigration reform for the sake of ideology would be morally irresponsible.

While the group may not be able to sway the Congressman’s decision to support a pathway to citizenship, yesterday’s day of action gave a great showing of solidarity and support for the ongoing talks happening thousands of miles away in Washington.  But while we’re on that subject of Washington, who is in charge of the fate of 11 million “aspiring” American’s, let’s talk briefly about how politicized this immigration issue has become.

As an activist watching the Senate debate the bill and now urging the House to take action and put the bill up for a vote, I can’t help but wonder about the suspicions I have had about why we’re still talking about this.  I’m usually blaming the Republican’s for the gridlock in Washington, but now I’m not so sure if they’re entirely to blame.

Yesterday’s day of action by the Alliance for Peace and Justice was a vigil to urge Congressman Steve Pearce to support a humane and just bill that allows for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants already here.  But for a minute during this vigil, the action turned into political theater when local Democrats infiltrated the vigil by campaigning against Congressman Pearce. Here all along, I was worried over the opposition to the issue, nativists and/or Tea Party activists showing up to defend their political puppet, Steve Pearce.  But instead, what we saw was a carnival of self-involved Democrats, jabbering about “democratic values” and ignoring the fact that this was a non-political event, to demonstrate the need for reform for countless immigrants living in our communities here in New Mexico.

7-17 Day of Action 2Although this parade of politicization didn’t last long, it did leave me with a very lasting impression of what I was already struggling to accept, but never wanted to admit to.  When it comes to issues of immigration or any other issue around social justice, neither party really cares.  I’ve been an immigrant activist for 15 years and in all those years, we’ve come so close to reform, but in the end it’s always shot down.  Why is that?  Sure, let’s blame the Republican’s for everything but Democrats are responsible too.

Immigration reform is not a game.  Eleven million aspiring American’s are not here for your political enjoyment.  Our issues are not here to keep you all entertained.  But it sure is keeping you employed, huh?

Democrats:  This is why American’s choose not to vote. This is why your base chooses to sit out important elections like in 2010 and 2012. Realize this when 2014 comes around because you all are going to be given the shock of your life when you lose another major election.

We certainly expect pandering from the right. I guess we should start to expect it from the left as well.

How Did We Allow MTV To Stop Playing Music? And Other Sad Things Going Through My Head

Today I was watching Portlandia’s newest episode, “Take Back MTV.”  In it, two characters played by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, discover that MTV no longer play’s music videos and instead is being run by a bunch of tweens obsessed with reality shows like, Teen Mom.  Google it.  I refuse to link it from my blog.  Anyway, strategizing, they decide to take MTV back to its original form.  You  know?  Playing “music videos” and talking about “music” and “artists?”  With the support of all major public radio funders (which was hilarious), and the help of past VJ’s, Kurt Loder, Tabitha Soren and Matt Pinfield (the loud, bald guy), the goal of putting the music back into MTV, was set.

Spoiler alert:  After a successful coup d’état by Fred, Carrie and the old school MTV VJs, an older gent wakes up to find on this television this amazing and historical occurrence, from the comfort of his living room couch,…to only fall back to sleep.

I tend to complain about MTV myself.  Geez, it’s not what it used to be!  I mean, aside from watching Nev on Catfish religiously (what can I say? I find him incredibly smart and handsome!!!) the whole channel is such a waste.  But the reaction the guy on the couch gives on Portlandia…a reaction of “who cares?”, is the same reaction I picture from your typical person who hates politics and would rather not participate in any civic duty or local action.

Take the last week for example.  All over Facebook and Twitter you had “those” people complain when they got their paycheck last week and noticed that it was shorter than previous months.  “That Obama is taking my money!”  is all I heard.  Except that this was not the case at all.  Had they been paying attention to the politics they so despise, they would have realized that we’ve always had this thing called a “payroll tax” which is deducted from our checks each pay period to pay for Social Security.  However, in 2010, President Obama signed off on reducing the amount of this payroll tax through the tax bill, by two percentage points so that the working middle class would have some change left over each month, to pay for stuff, so that in turn, would stimulate the economy and get things going again.  But people don’t get that.  They just think it’s something that was just thrown at them (or taken from them)

Instead, what they should be concerned about is that like every other year since the President has been in office, the Republican party has been doing something we all like to call, “obstructionism.”  In the case of the fiscal cliff, in order to save stuff like, unemployment benefits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and surviving the Dairy Cliff, among other things, the payroll tax was allowed to expire, thus raising the the payroll tax back to 6.2% instead of 4.2%.

Imagine if the President was allowed to keep everything he wanted on the table?

Yes, many other things were saved because of the fiscal deal…but despite all of that, many are still very upset about the payroll tax and the $1000 that will be taken from them this coming year.  I mean it’s a cable bill for crying out loud!!!

Yes, the President could have fought harder…he had the leverage like many progressives have said, some continuing to say that the guy is just not a closer when it comes to negotiations.  The President may have also given up enough leverage as he counters GOP BS in two months when we have to endure this torture again with the debt ceiling debate.

But think about it?  President Obama and the Democrats are putting policy on the table to help the working poor, the middle class and the 99% who don’t make a gazillion dollars, and the Republican’s are saying no to everything so we’re having to compromise and yet we still have some working poor, middle class and 99%ers defending the Republican party and their obstructionism?

Does this make any sense to you?

When will American’s finally wake up to the BS?  Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are spewing misconceptions about everything to the very people that these policies are affecting and yet people don’t think for themselves.

American’s remind me of the guy waking up in the middle of Portlandia’s MTV takeover.  He awakes to find the original VJs back to what is right in the world, with music being played and awesomeness being shown, to only go back to sleep because, you know what?  Who cares?

This attitude of complacency is what allows our leaders and lobbyists to take advantage of our communities across the country.  Until American’s begin to think critically, understand what is really going on and fight back, there will continue to be injustices…including your hard earned cash being used to pay for something your Congressman prefers rather than you putting food on the table.

40 Days Left Until Election Day…And You Still Don’t Know Who You’re Voting For?

September 28, 2012 3 comments

Last Monday I drove to Missouri to visit my sister.  But before I could arrive to my final destination, I of course had to face a few interesting encounters along the way.  First off.  Amarillo, Texas.  I arrived around 8a, where I stopped to fill up Herbie’s tank with gas.  Here, I was introduced to an older gentleman filling up his own tank, who immediately began to complain about the high gas prices.  Instead of discussing the issue in a manner that was both fair and realistic to the issue itself, he continued to go on a rant about how we should bomb the hell out of Iran to meet his desires for low gas prices.  Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t going to stay silent.  Instead, I rolled my eyes and I railed on him for about two minutes, explaining to him that by creating a crisis of “bombing the crap out of Iran,” would only increase gas prices even more and where would he be then.  Why don’t people get it?

Perhaps my political explosion in Amarillo lead to some bad karma because right before arriving into Oklahoma City, I ran into a bit of a “problem.”  Around mile marker 99, heading east on I-40, I had what some people might call, a bit of a flat tire.  Fortunately for Herbie, a few minutes prior to this flat tire, I happened to notice a sign outside of Oklahoma City which read, “dial *55 for Highway Patrol.”  So, as someone not knowing anything about changing my tire, I decided the Highway Patrol was necessary and needed to save the day.  Well, fortunately for me, I only lost 15 minutes because a nice Oklahoman stopped and helped me out and changed my tire within minutes, not having to really need the patrolman.  But as he arrived, he did what I guess any other patrolman would do…put on some white gloves.

Seriously?  He looked down on me and my Obama bumper stickers with some trepidation. Which is why I convinced myself he was not going to help us out and he didn’t.  He just stood and stared and said not one word to me. Whatever, the Oklahoman gent was great so he redeemed my faith in the people of this great state.  As I coasted through the state in my fixed tire and Bruno Mars blaring from my speakers at my mom’s expense (she came along), it was between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Joplin, Missouri that a guy in an older black Honda Accord passed me full-speed, honking his horn and flipping  me off.  I was driving a a cruise controlled 70mph, VW Beetle,  so my only  reasoning behind it was yes…the Obama bumper sticker with the words “Latino’s for” before Obama.  Oh well.  I still believe in Oklahoma hospitality.

So there is a reason for this narrative and that is, how well will President Obama do in these states?  I mean, Oklahoma isn’t racing to be a blue state, that’s for sure.  But my question is, what will ever get them to become purplish?  I don’t know.

I’m also still wondering why people are undecided.  We’re less than 40 days from election day and people still don’t know who they’re going to vote for?  You either support the President and want to see him re-elected (and succeed) or you’re ready to go on with the next guy.  You’d think the last few weeks of funny and deplorable comments from the Romney campaign would help in making that decision, but apparently that’s not the case.

The conventions held last month were pretty interesting.  Up until then, things were just politics as usual.  However, despite the apparent differences in reception from both sides, I think we have all come to the conclusion (at least I think we have) that the Democratic party is not facing an enthusiasm gap at all, like I once feared.  Perhaps it has something to do with the opponents Dems are facing rather than the progressive candidates themselves.  Nonetheless, the last few weeks have been interesante because during the ongoing post-convention punditry, it’s apparent that President Obama has held on to a significant bounce, which has sustained this far in the game.

Unfortunately, this optimism coming from the President’s camp and progressive campaigns across the country have really worried me a lot in recent weeks.  Yes, President Obama is ahead in the polls and Democrats are gaining speed against their various opponents in Congressional races across the country.  But really?  Declaring a win, less than forty days before the election, is incredibly stupid.

Polls are great because they can be very telling.  They have the ability give us a general idea of where we are.  The problem, however, is that it can also lead voters to become very complacent.  I’m sorry, but American’s don’t get as excited about voting the way they do when refs screw up a call during a Sunday night football game.  I’m sorry, but that’s just reality.

(Which is why I have such an issue with the electoral college during election night when pundits declare California blue when the polls haven’t even closed yet…but that’s another blog post)

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Voter registration deadlines will end in less than two weeks and get out the vote efforts are so important because we need to keep those people we’ve registered, engaged enough to go straight to the polls.

It’s not over.

Presidential debates begin next week and these will be a major events for those independents not yet sure whom they’ll be voting for to evaluate the candidates and see who will be their choice come November 6.  Will President Obama be as successful in the past?  Will Mitt Romney continue to bury himself?  We shall see Wednesday, October 3 when the first debate takes place at the University of Denver.

As I drove up to Colorado yesterday, a guy in a silver Toyota passed me, honking his horn and giving me the thumbs down…I’m assuming it was my Obama stickers (again).  I was sad about it for a seconds until I realized.  I guess it’s better than being given the bird.  That’s progress.

Real Women Have Power

The year 2012 will go down in history, not just for its major presidential election or the Supreme

Courtesy of ACLU

Court of the United States surprise ruling, upholding the Affordable Care Act, but something far more important.

The war on women.  While both equally important, the war on women has got to take the cake.

In 2009, the Republican party ran on “jobs, jobs, jobs.”  By doing so (and our nation’s voters needing some instant gratification) the win went to Republican’s, who not only won the House of Representatives, a few extra seats in the Senate but many of the state houses across the country.

It was a declaration!  A referendum on President Barack Obama lackluster two years in office!

Republican’s, so committed to job growth and the economy, you know how many jobs bills have been introduced since 2011?

Let me put it this way…we’re still kinda waiting.

Instead, what Republican’s did introduce was legislation targeting women and their reproductive rights.  A long list of them…all across the country.

But what does that have to do with jobs, you ask?  Exactly.

Let’s take the state of Michigan for example.  It’s had a tough few years. Michigan is currently recovering from several years of economic downturn.  In recent months it has faced a threat to its democracy, one we’ve not seen…maybe ever.  But even more importantly, the Michigan state legislature apparently has an issue with the term, “vagina.”

That’s right, V-A-G-I-N-A, VAGINA!

I’m no expert.  I don’t claim to have the answers to anything or everything.  But in the case of Republican’s focusing on women’s issues, it is no coincidence. It is part of a master plan by the Republican party and an ongoing refusal to move forward on issues as basic and as progressive as those pertaining to a woman’s uterus.  Republican’s claim it is a party that respects the constitution of the United States, yet respects very little a decision that was made by the Supreme Court of this country back in 1973.

In order to fight this war on women, it’s up to many of us…a majority of American’s, actually, to gain the tools necessary to confront these so-called, “leaders” and keep them from taking away rights we have done everything in our limited power, to protect.

Democracy for America will soon launch a series called, “War for Women” in which it will provide tools to many of us who are committed to a woman’s right to choose, as well as many other issues women face, challenges we will need to confront in the coming months and years.

If the Republican’s get their way this year or next year or any year for that matter, our country will regress by generations — successes women have seen in the last thirty years, could all go away.  This is the threat we face.

We must equip ourselves.  We must win.

Arizona’s SB 1070: What If My Family Were The Supreme Court?

April 25, 2012 6 comments

“I’m not a social worker, I’m a cop.”

These words came out of the most infamous sheriff we know of today, Joe Arpaio. But it might as well have come out of the mouth of one of my cousin’s over the weekend. A state trooper, he finds the idea of illegal immigration a scary situation for our country and, “a matter of national security.” As serious as this may sound, he also was unable to provide any specific reasons other than, “these people are breaking the law.” Sidenote: Both of his parents were born in Mexico.

I have been an immigrant rights activist for over ten years now and defending the immigrant community has never gotten easier. In fact, it has gotten that much tougher. On the eve of SB1070’s oral arguments in the highest court in the land, the judicial fight has only just begun. Yet, the divisive issue of immigration reform (or lack thereof), amongst our Latino community specifically, is alive and well and perhaps a long and winding road.

It’s funny. I usually joke about my Mexican family and how they are the root of my blog material, but it can’t be further from the truth. With so much diversity amongst my people, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Although I’m psyched for the material, the debates are always awful and never easy to write about.

Never.

In the case of Arizona’s SB1070, my family’s debate and/or conversations about immigration sound a lot like individuals who call in to a radio show. Let’s take for example, On Point with Tom Ashbrook, who yesterday morning, discussed in great detail, SB1070 and the Supreme Courts decision to begin to hear oral arguments tomorrow. As I listened in, I couldn’t help but compare the callers calling in to the conversations I had over the weekend with my own family. Some callers provided great insight on the issue, but then there were the other callers who were incredibly disingenuous, providing no real concrete information other than their biased feelings towards the issue of illegal immigration. Like a few in my family.

So I ask myself. If I’m an immigrant activist, who has been defending the rights of undocumented immigrants for years, how is it that I plan to make a difference in the overall immigration debate of this nation when I can’t even influence those within my own immediate family?

I don’t know.

I am confused and nervous tonight because the Supreme Court, like the anti-immigrant members in my own family, may get this whole SB1070 wrong. Come June, the Justices may rule for Arizona and uphold the disastrous law we’ve come to know.

What if?

So far in the last two years, activists and supporters have tried their best to alleviate the burden on undocumented immigrants, appealing the law and its legalities, getting the courts to successfully rule the laws unconstitutional. In other cases, law enforcement have felt that they’re too overextended so have chosen not to pursue enforcement of the law. However, by Supreme Court ruling for Arizona, the floodgates would open up big time, making things much worse under very unimaginable circumstances. If we thought things were bad now, they will only get worse.

Politically, Democrats and immigrant rights activists have begun to strategize, looking at different scenario’s if and when the Supreme Court rules in favor of SB1070. If the ruling comes in June, that’s five months prior to the presidential election, which means the Democrats in Congress can send an anti-SB1070 bill up for a vote, Republican’s will be forced to take a side and the Democrats will come out as the one to choose, right? Sounds all nice and dandy, doesn’t it? The problem with this however, is that the Latino vote will once again be used for political gain. How do we know we won’t be used and taken for a ride once again, to only be disappointed in the end? (Again.)

Hmmm…

But let’s be frank, the Democrats aren’t the only one’s guilty of this spectacular nonsense. Just a few months ago, Mitt Romney criticized Rick Perry during a GOP debate for supporting and implementing the DREAM Act in Texas. Days later, Romney boasted that if the DREAM Act were to ever pass at the national level, he would repeal it as president. Now, as the general election campaign against President Obama begins to unfold, Romney, as well as other Republican’s, appear to have changed their minds about the DREAM Act (again), convincing the token Latino, Senator Marco Rubio (no relation, thank gawd) from Florida, to write his own version of the DREAM Act and parade around the country with it as a perfect alternative to those of us who have been fighting for the real thing for over ten years!!

Neither side have been very effective in supporting and helping immigrant rights activists like myself. We’ve been courted and dumped time and time again. Can the Justices on the United States Supreme Court be objective enough as possible to throw out something as horrendous as SB1070, forcing both political parties to finally come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform?

The infighting within our politics is one thing, but when the infighting takes place amongst my people, taking each other on to satisfy political leaders at the top, at the expense of our own is an insult to our parents and grandparents before us, who came to this country when the border was just a line in the dirt. It is an insult to the millions of undocumented immigrants all across this country today, working long hours and being exploited by money hungry employers getting rich off the sweat of their brow. It is an insult to the countless human beings who have died in the sweltering deserts of the US/Mexican border, attempting to arrive and reach that American Dream, to provide for their family here and back home. It is an insult to the millions of families who are separated each and every day from his/her children and deported to their home country without knowing if and when they will ever speak to their families again.

SB1070 is as divisive as anything I’ve ever known in my own life time, yet reflect the awful history this country once endured many years ago. With just hours left before oral arguments begin in Washington, DC, those of us on the front lines will listen and wait for the momentous occasion in which our Supreme Court will either choose to move forward and rule in favor of a future of equality and unity for all, or rule in favor of stepping back into history, to defend the darkest times in our country’s past.

We can’t afford to go back.