This midterm election has to be the “come to Jesus” moment for New Mexico’s Republicans. The party lost statewide seats, all three national seats and has left the state’s conservatives with nothing but disappointment and utter despair — again.
Every athlete knows when it’s time to throw in the towel and retire and tradesmen who work with their hands know that when arthritis or a bad back strikes, they must put away their tools and move on. Republicans must acknowledge that banging their heads on election’s door hoping to let in a little opportunity is an exercise in futility. The truth is they/we are living in a self-destructive state run by officials who care more about their ideologies than the people of this state.
New Mexico’s Democrats have mismanaged the state with failed policies for nearly a century, and they have created a burgeoning class of “victims” that need to be taken care of by them. A Republican friend of mine said to me, “we keep hoping that things will change, but they don’t.” True. Hope doesn’t send a child to college, mend a broken fence or win an election. Hope strengthens resolve based on sensible plans of action. It doesn’t replace them.
Unfortunately, Republicans continue to dream in the upper bunk in the house that hope built and rarely leave it. Because of generations of straight-ticket Democratic voting by people who have done so because their parents and grandparents did, the state has transitioned from one failed administration to the next.
We look to the east and west and see prosperity but we’re quick to write it off as “not something we can use here.” We bask in our unique New Mexicanness while drinking our craft beers and devouring green chile cheeseburgers as we gaze at our beautiful sunsets. As long as we are able to make ends meet this week, this month, this year, we are willing to trade away tomorrow and put our worries on the shelf. After all, the government is always there to take care of us. Republicanism is not consistent with New Mexican-ism.
It is a recipe that is wasted on people whose palates have never experienced critical thinking and risk-taking. Better to head to Texas where they specialize in that sort of thing and where a conservative-leaning person isn’t treated like someone with an STD.
This election has proven to me, at least, that New Mexicans are willing to vote against their own self-interests, and New Mexican Republicans must wake up and embrace that reality. Republicans will NOT win any important races in this state until and unless New Mexico is near total collapse and literally begging for their intervention.
Sadly, it will be too late then for anybody to save the state. Better to redirect Republican energy now in a more positive way like spending more time with families and friends or taking up a hobby instead of pushing a big rock up a slippery slope.
This won’t happen, however, until the Rs experience a ‘come to Jesus moment’ and realize that things will never change in the Land of (Democrat) Entrenchment. Yes it’s hard to admit defeat and change, but New Mexicans Republicans must ask themselves: “Are we willing to keep punishing ourselves every two years and then blame a political party that has refused to accept the harsh reality of its own irrelevance?” Accepting that reality and taking a bold step are not mutually exclusive choices, but that step can only be taken by breaking that perpetual cycle of disappointment.
Stephan Helgesen is a retired career U.S. diplomat and registered Republican. He is the author of six books on American politics. He can be reached at: [email protected].