Editorial in the Las Cruces Sun-News entitled, "IDEOLOGY AND NEW MEXICO POLITICS"

March 28, 2013

Demagoguing was the subject of my last article. In short, it’s when a politician distorts and manipulates an issue with emotionalism and prejudice. This allows the politician to gain power simply by arousing emotions and passions void of any reason or evidence. Another word that goes hand in hand with Demagoguing is ‘Ideology’. Webster defines this as “a system of philosophy that derives ideas exclusively from sensation.” Therefore, political ideology is when someone believes in a politician/policy exclusively based on feelings and emotions rather than logic, history, or evidence. Is New Mexico guilty of political ideology?

To answer this question, let's first consider that New Mexico is at the bottom of all the good lists, and at the top of all the bad lists. For example, we have the highest poverty rate, our economic freedom is lowest among all states, and the Wall Street Journal recently reported New Mexico as one of the "Worst-Run-States” with too much reliance on federal spending. By the way, if it wasn't for our balanced budget amendment and the fact that over a third of our spending is funded by the Federal Government, our fiscal status would be even worse.

Now let's consider who might be to blame for this. Since the Democrats have had control of the state Senate and House of Representatives for the last 80 years you could make a strong case that their policies coming out of Santa Fe are directly to blame. Yet, we continue to elect Democrats year after year to control the Roundhouse. Why? Clearly it is not due to a reasoned look at the history of control in the New Mexico legislature, but rather an emotional attachment to the Democratic Party. This attachment based on sensation is a classic example of ideology.

But why do we have an ideological attachment to the Democratic Party? Here is where Ideology and Demagoguing go hand-in-hand. Most New Mexicans simply believe that Democrats care about them, and Republicans don't. Now, I wouldn't vote for someone who doesn't care about me either. But is this a fair assessment of Republicans, or is this a result of Demagoguing? Let's take another example from the recent minimum wage debate. As you know, the House recently approved a measure to increase the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour. State Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, offered an amendment to increase the wage only 30-cents an hour because “in its current form it was doomed because Republican Gov. Susana Martinez would veto it." After all, he said, "A 30-cent raise is better than no raise." Well, State Rep. Eliseo Alcon, D-Milan, in response fired back that Gentry's call for a 30-cent increase "is a way to tell the people of New Mexico that we don't care for them." Instead of an honest response to Rep. Gentry's concern, Rep. Alcon decided to distort the issue with a direct claim that the Republican simply “doesn't care”.

This type of personal attack towards Rep. Gentry and other Republicans is not isolated to politicians. They also come from the media. Journalists, bloggers and editorialists on both the national and state level often resort to Republican name-calling without any evidence other than a difference of opinion. This barrage of Demagoguing from both politicians and the media that is void of honest, reasoned and respectful debate has resulted in the demonization of Republicans. It’s not only wrong; it prevents us from having any kind of productive debate on an issue.

Now, I have been a conservative for over 30 years. During that time I've been very intimate in discussions with fellow Republicans. In other words, I know what Republicans believe and what they say behind closed doors. I can assure you it is entirely unfair to label them as racists, bigots, or indifferent towards our poor, elderly and minorities. Rather, we have different ideas for the same issues. Ideas that we believe are actually better for our poor, elderly and minorities. For example, lower taxes and regulations lead to more capital for business to create more opportunities for all, especially our poor. Also, less government handouts and more of a reliance on hard work, family and church fosters success and transition from the lower class. On the other hand, Democratic ideas which often sound more benevolent on the surface result in fewer jobs, increased government dependency and a permanent underclass. And I would take freedom and opportunity over dependency and a dead end any day of the week.

A recent TheHill.com poll of 1,000 likely voters nationwide found that folks prefer Republican ideas over the Democratic ideas by a 65 to 24 percent margin. However, as soon as respondents heard the words “Republican” and “Democrat”, their opinion changed to Democratic support. This proves the idea that people simply have an incorrect impression of the Republican Party. Let’s stop listening to the Demagoguing and free ourselves from these ideological chains so we can see the truth.

Neal Hooks