Kudos to Rep. Miguel Garcia for his Dec. 12 letter lamenting the lack of civility and bipartisanship in the New Mexico Legislature which prevents leaders from effectively addressing issues important to the state. He is so right. As he points out, “The electorate wants us to shrink the great philosophical divide.”
The idea that our opponents are our enemies has thankfully already been debunked by President Joe Biden. Time will tell if he holds true to those words. Rep. Garcia takes to task both elitist progressives and ultra conservative Republicans whose diatribes and agenda can only result in more friction and less action.
The problem lies with those on the far left and far right who hold a false sense of superiority that only they know what is right for the people of our state and nation. There are various terms for this type of condition, but the primary symptom is a total lack of insight that they might be wrong or that other reasonable people might see things differently. It is also a phenomenon often seen in young children where the only thing that matters is their own wants and needs; that attitude prevents collaboration and promotes inaction.
I have for some perverse reason saved news articles going back 10-15 years that discuss issues we still face today: our failing education system, high crime rate and what is often called deaths of despair i.e. suicide, drug overdose, domestic violence and other similar tragic losses of life. We can all agree that we have serious issues that need to be addressed. Although it is also true that some political veterans have argued that there is an intentional effort to not fully address problems to maintain an “issue” that keeps the base motivated and the money flowing.
Aside from that cynical view, history has shown that bipartisanship can and has worked, e.g. President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich, who also promoted impeachment, President Ronald Reagan and (House Ways and Means Chairman) Dan Rostenkowski, who later was discredited and indicted, and many other adversaries have accomplished great things through negotiation. The success that these statesmen achieved was a result of awareness of the greater good and by not making their agenda personal. They were able to put their personal feelings aside and ignore some shortcomings of their opponent in order to accomplish something important for the people of the country.
I have seen many individuals blamed by name for our dysfunction. We have all done that, myself included. However, what do we gain other than a momentary feeling of self-righteousness?
We have many challenges in our state. Isn’t it time that we all take a look at our words and behavior and ask if they contribute to finding solutions or not? Again, kudos to Rep. Garcia for reminding us that our vast array of problems can be addressed if we work together in a sincere and serious effort to do so and if we appreciate that we can’t always get everything we want.