Letters to the editor obviously don’t reflect the views of every resident. People who read newspapers, let alone take the time to write to one, represent an older, Whiter, and more Conservative demographic than consumers of digital news.
But the letters are awfully one-sided.
Overwhelmingly, the majority of people who write into New Mexico’s largest-circulation newspaper, The Albuquerque Journal, do so to complain about marijuana legalization, homelessness, and crime — issues advocated for and exacerbated by the very Democrats who’ve run city and state governments for most of the last century.
RJB wrote about the city’s plan to build tent cities for the homeless around Albuquerque: “These camps don’t enable, but rather destroy, ‘safe outdoor spaces’ and ruin life in Albuquerque for the rest of us.”
MJ wrote: “Witnessed a very impaired driver run a red light at a busy intersection while smoking a joint. He barely missed turning cars, a pedestrian and a disaster. Pot legalization will only increase scenarios like this and make our streets even more dangerous.”
One resident suggested sending city councilors to Portland, Ore., to “see what the once-beautiful Rose City has become when you pander to the ‘poor homeless’ and defund the police miscreants.”
Another writer pointed out that the punishment for violating the rules of Albuquerque’s newly proposed tent city is getting kicked out. “Lovely, back to the streets to their former campsites.”
As Albuquerque stays on track to surpass last year’s record-breaking homicide rate and Downtown continues to suffer the strain of drug addicts, thugs, and vandals, those of us on the outside looking in have to wonder what it will take for something to give.
I’m sure others have experienced the pleasant surprise of engaging in an oddly non-partisan conversation with real people about real issues in New Mexico. Not counting the family and friends who disowned us for voting for Trump, we continue to maintain relationships with Democrats and Liberals, friends and neighbors, who know our politics — and a few who don’t. It feels like talking politics is actually easier today than it’s ever been before.
Everyone agrees that crime is getting worse, that criminals are emboldened, that bail reform was a disastrous mistake, that homelessness is a pockmark on the state’s largest city, and that advocating for even more drug use isn’t going to make things better — not as it relates to crime, educational outcomes, or poverty.
As I’ve written before, the principled Conservative position on drug use should lean Libertarian: nobody, government included, should care what you do with your body (or brain cells) as long as you’re not hurting other people. But the reality of drug use, and the state’s cheerful celebration of it, is that people die and kids get high.
The reality of ever-increased “services” for the homeless is that the number of homeless people increases (offer it and they will come).
The reality of soft-on-crime “justice” reform is that criminals are back out on the streets when they should be in jail.
And everybody agrees with these realities.
They just don’t vote, or they do vote, but they’re so afraid of being labeled as racist, heartless, or prudes that they can’t escape the cult of personality even when their wallets and communities depend on it.
That’s hard to come back from, for both sides. As much as we can all agree that we’re headed in the wrong direction, it’s impossible to agree on which way to turn the ship. As a country we have become so politically polarized that our instinct is to bleat and bray at anything that even remotely resembles Trump (or Obama, or Bush, or Reagan).
That is why New Mexico remains blue — because no single candidate is capable of bridging the gap between the culturally Conservative and the do-gooder socialists of our politically apprehensive majority. This inflates the value of fringe voters, and with a Liberal fringe that slightly outnumbers the Conservative fringe, we get the same types of liberal Democrats that have controlled the state for the better part of a century.