Democrats: Let’s Not Fight Among Ourselves. We Have a Planet to Save

We have so many challenges and a common enemy that is destroying all that is precious. How about an olive branch and an offer to agree to disagree while working to advance all on which we agree. An invitation to finding a common road forward.

Retake Our Democracy Potluck Community Conversation:  Discuss & Prioritize Our 24 Policy People’s Platform: A Path to Equity in Santa Fe. Thursday April 5, 5:30-7:30pm at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, 555 Camino de la Familia, Santa Fe, NM 87501.  Enter from the backside (not facing the railroad tracks.  In Leadership Team yesterday we discussed how some might be challenged to get from work to a potluck at 5:30, bringing a dish and utensils, so we are going to shore up the food with some pizza and other nibbles. So even if you can’t bring food to share, please join usClick here to RSVP via Facebook or write to me at

Let’s Pull Together

Many months ago I met with Peter DeBenedittis about his plan to run for Governor. I told him that the most important thing he could do was to shift the public debate and to legitimize key issues related to healthcare, the environment, economic justice, etc. Mission accomplished. We have three remaining Democratic candidates for Governor:

  • Senator Joe Cervantes, has endorsed the entire Democratic Party Platform, a document that strongly advocates for specific policies to advance social, racial, climate and economic justice;
  • Jeff Apodaca has endorsed key provisions of Peter D’s platform including the universal healthcare, a $15 minimum wage and legalized marijuana;
  • Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham has developed a thoughtful plan for jump starting the state’s economy and only recently has published a remarkable energy plan that includes an 80% renewable portfolio by 2040 and very specific steps on how to get there, including support for Community Choice Aggregation. For details on how CCA can transform our energy future and allow jurisdiction to purchase its own energy from the grid to create 80-100% renewable portfolios very quickly, click here. I will profile Lujan Grisham’s Energy Plan in a separate post soon. It is worth a full blog post.

At the same time that our Democratic candidates are moving perceptively left in their campaign commitments and rhetoric (our job to hold the winner to those commitments), the Democratic Party’s Platform and Resolutions Committee toured the state to develop what is one of the most progressive state platform in the nation. While the recent State Democratic Convention had its moments of controversy and division, it also was by far the most attended Convention in history and it passed the platform with over 90% of the vote.

But Democrats have a habit of consuming themselves, especially during primaries where often progressives and more moderate Democrats conduct campaigns that are highly negative and leave candidate supporters bitter and the Party divided and weakened. Certainly the 2016 presidential primary is one such primary. Just the other day, a working group of committed Democrats held a conference call and the debate over who should support whom in the CD-1 primary got heated and personal. Retake has been hit with harsh criticism for welcoming challengers to Democratic incumbents in State House Districts 41 and 46. We have to find a different way. We have to find a way to discuss and differ without demonizing those with whom we disagree.

Let’s start by pleading guilty. During the 2016 primary, before Retake was formed, Roxanne and I ran the SantaFe4Bernie campaign and in that context I wrote many, many posts outlining my concerns about Clinton. On the other side, equally well-intentioned Democrats, for their own reasons, were as bitterly critical of Bernie’s candidacy. For my part, I tried to stick to issues, but when someone is persistently pointing out your candidates’ perceived shortcomings, it can feel personal. The wounds linger. And while after the Democratic National Convention, many New Mexicans felt (and still feel those wounds), we were able to unify enough to Retake the Roundhouse, flip the state blue, and secure a Clinton win in NM. In other states, however, the schism between Clinton and Sanders supporters likely caused those states to elect Trump. We have to learn from this; we have an ailing planet that simply is not going to wait for us to stop squabbling before we unify to solve our energy problems, not to mention the myriad economic, social and racial justice issues with solutions waiting for a unified force to press for them.

Over 90% of the Democrats attending the convention voted for a remarkable platform. Click here to review this document. It calls for a livable wage, single payer healthcare, a strong commitment to the transition to renewables, increasing Permanent Fund funding for pre-k education and much more. It is not just a platform; it is a tool for conversation and education and something we can use to hold our elected representatives accountable.

The 1300 delegates present at the Convention, 90% of whom approved this platform, came from all over the state and are among the most active Democrats in the state. They go to Ward meetings, they make calls, they canvass, they talk politics with friends and family. If they can take our platform and use it to educate a broader base, to inspire more folks to get on board, to register, to become more active, and to vote, we can elect a Democratic governor, we can strengthen our hold on Roundhouse and with Retake’s swiftly growing statewide Rapid Response Network, we can lobby effectively in 2019 to make sure that good bills are signed, passed and become good laws, laws that create improved living conditions for all New Mexicans.

We can do this if we agree to disagree on some things while recognizing the critical importance of all those things upon which we agree. To advance this effort, Retake leadership is going to begin reaching out to people in the Party who represent the more moderate (or at least less liberal) wing of our Party. We want to meet over coffee and talk, to try to find ways that we can ensure that the primary process is a dignified debate that does not leave us shattered and angry.

There are too many poor, hungry children, too much leaking methane, too many seniors choosing between heat and life sustaining medications, too many people lingering in jails and prisons because their addictions are punished instead of treated, and too many Indigenous People waiting for the state and nation to respect their lands, cultures and rights. We have too much to do to address these issues and frankly too many Trump/GOP supporters who just don’t care at all about any of this. We have to work together to Retake Our Democracy.

I welcome your comments.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

P.S. There will be some Democrats who will say that all this is well and good, this talk about how we must pull together, but that Retake persists in criticizing some Democrats, Rep. Lujan and the DCCC for example. This is another example of where agreeing to disagree is important. I am not alone in being critical of the DCCC. Google it. It is all over the internet. But in my criticism I really try to stick to the facts and also to do so in a respectful manner. Rep. Lujan is a strong representative and has served NM well. But he is also a Party leader with tremendous influence and for reasons laid out in past posts, we are concerned about the DCCC’s intervening in primaries. We think undermining progressive candidates prevents voters from participating in a fair debate and that progressives have demonstrated an ability to galvanize sufficient support to win (See Wisconsin Supreme Court election this week).

But here, too, there are two sides. From the DCCC’s perspective, with Trump in office any Democrat is better than another GOP representative who will support his agenda and in some districts (they would say many more than I would), only a moderate can win. So we debate. We just need to find a way to debate without demonizing and when the debate is over, to unify. We have a planet to save.





Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics, Local-State Government & Legislation

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11 replies

  1. Excellent piece. I very much agree. The stakes are far too high for our state, our country, and our planet to do anything but unite. AND, until after the primaries, as a voter, I want to see the full spectrum of views and candidates – without interference. We all deserve that.

    • I feel the 2 party system encourages a black OR white view – no grey allowed, even though most issues have a large grey view.
      My life lives in fluxuating greyness, especially as issues evolve.

  2. If memory serves, this has twice styled Carl Trujillo, the incumbent Democratic Representative in District 46cas a “recumbent Democrat” although he is in fact incredibly hard-working.

    IMO, this blog jumped into the District 46 election without being adequately informed about Carl’s service to District 46 on extraordinarily important local issues. Kay Matthews, a long-time progressive advocate and journalist wrote a long article which does address some of these local issues.

    • Sorry, an incomplete, unedited comment was accidentally submitted.

      Anyone who is interested in reading Kay Matthews article will find it at

      They might also find interesting the following press release from Nuclear Watch, a long-time progressive group concerned with the clean up of radioactive waste, both a national and a local issue:

      After reading these two pieces, some might even think that Retake Our Democracy made a mistake in endorsing Carl’s opponent.

      Yes, Democrats should work together. But we did not start this one.

      • If you read my post closely, you would note that I said it is important to be able to agree to disagree during the primary, as long as it is kept respectful. Your comment about ‘recumbents’ caused me to remove that language from our Election Strategy. And Retake has not endorsed anyone in the primaries, we are providing information about candidates and letting our readers decide, as we did with the Mayor’s and City Council districts. We welcomed challengers in Dist. 41 and 46 and think that if the debate and campaign can be kept focused on the issues, it will be a healthy process that does nothing to endanger the Dems in November. Whoever emerges will be unopposed in Nov.

  3. I am incredibly grateful for this article of pulling together. We need to provide RESPECTFUL FEEDBACK to our political representatives without being “hateful”. I appreciate Ben Ray Lujan and think he does an outstanding job. He listens to us and is willing to do what needs to be done for our state.

  4. I am always told that now is not the time to discuss our differences inside the DP. The time to me would be Nov 7 of this year to have this debate. If we do not have this debate starting Nov 7, 2018, then when I start it 6 months before an election, blame yourselves, not me.

    There are many “Dems” who are to the right of Dwight D Eisenhower. They belong in the Republican Party. To me, if you are a neoliberal, you are a republican. If you are more interested in what benefits the top 10% and not everyone else, you are a republican. If you refuse to endorse what 60 plus percent of us want (or what 70 to 80% of us want), you are a republican. Even if you refuse to leave the DP, please leave positions of power in the DP. You are the ones preventing the millennials (the largest generation ever!) from joining the DP.

    It is not always the best thing to just have a Dem in office: if these “Dems” are preventing bills from getting out of committees, it would be better if they were not there.

    Hillary brought us Trump. If Bernie had been our candidate, our communities, states, the US, and even the whole world would be a much different place right now. Since then, I have been told to shut up. If we do not have this debate starting Nov 7 of this year, I will never again, at any time, shut up and “pull together”.

  5. For more than four decades, we have been told that any democrat is better than a republican, that we progressives should wait our turn. Agree the midterms are far too important to divide ourselves now. The coming national elections will be the time to press hard. Several third party efforts are rising in anticipation, on the dem, the gop, and centrists issues. Breaking the two party hand-cuffs will ensure more accurate representation of citizen concerns and make it harder for corporations to purchase influence.

  6. Paul and Roxanne,

    Finally a clarion call for reason, Hallelujah and Amen! I think your point is valued even more by me (and hopefully others) by your willingness to point to your own roles in contributing to turning on ourselves.

    I have been an Independent in terms of party affiliation for nearly my entire voting age life even though I only voted once for a Republican (Johnson for NM governor). I switched to the Democratic party solely to support Bernie. But there was never any doubt that I would support Hillary over any possible candidate that the Republicans could possibly offer. Overall, I believe that support for Bernie helped pushed Hillary’s platform to the left and, hopefully, even what she would actually do. I voiced my concern over the extreme negative emotions voiced over the Hillary Bernie split and do believe that too many Bernie supporters cast votes for a third party candidate or, worse yet, stayed home. For all our talk about our ability to behave rationally it is our emotions that usually prevail.

    When the most absurd and horrible outcome came to past in November 2016 I thought our only salvation would be Republican politicians who were actually patriots first (as they have always claimed). Perhaps there are still patriots out there but I will be damned if they ever do more than give lip service against the clear destruction of our democratic institutions. From my perspective, they always fall back into line with the sick system they have, perhaps unwittingly, developed and continue to support. What I would give to have an honest and rational debate on the value of conservative versus liberal/progressive approaches to governance. So, unfortunately, it does appear that any politician branding themselves as a Republican is going to be worse for most of us than any politician branding themselves as a Democrat (regardless of their personal flaws including corruption).

    My professional work became centered on understanding systems and the ultimate source of ALL system behavior … human behavior (us humans developed the concept of a “system” and define what the system is, so there is no “system” that isn’t affected by human behavior/mind). Human behavior is complex and anyone who doubts that cannot have seriously studied the subject or eventually retreated from the pain that dealing with that complexity leads to. Further, we must accept that humans are far from perfect and if we look hard enough at others (or if brave in the mirror) we will find plenty of flaws. I find it really disturbing when Americans fanatically put their faith into some “leader” to save them and their way of life. Trust should always be limited, conditional and never blind.

    So lets keep a few things in mind. Please passionately support your candidate of choice in the primaries. Try to do this from the positives of your choice rather than spreading the negatives of your non-choices. But whatever the outcome of the primaries please fully support (as best you can) the non-Republican candidate in the election. Focus those negative emotions on the Republican choice. Until Republican politicians are the minority locally, state and nation, we and the world are in deep trouble.

    For those wanting to escape the tyranny of our two party system I think our fundamental system of governance will have to be changed first (to such as a parliamentary system), where coalition governments can be formed. Under our current rules, progressive third parties serve only the role of increasing the probability that the party that is diametrically opposed to your views and well-being wins. Even better than a multi-party system would be a no party system but we are tribal animals so …

    Thanks (again sorry for the long winded rant).

  7. My comment begins today with this link——

    “Chattanooga and many of the other 82 other cities and towns in the United States that have thus far built their own government-owned, fiber-based internet are held up as examples for the rest of the country to follow.”
    Our city gov should begin to build our own, public service fiber-based internet to protect Santafeans and to attract related jobs/companies.
    My comment to the article itself will continue tomorrow.

  8. This may be one of the most thoughtful pieces that you have produced since I have been following your work. The easy route is always to disrespect and disparage one’s opponents in a disagreement. If their positions are clearly motivated by self interest, this is a completely valid approach, but in many cases others may disagree because they have weighed the evidence and come to different conclusions. A particularly disagreeable aspect of political discourse in the US currently is the ‘tribalism’ aspects of it: “If you don’t agree with me on something that is part of our tribal ideology – you are are the enemy!”

    One thing that you have done that contributes to this tribalism is putting together issue lists then grading candidates based on their positions on these issues. These remind me of nothing so much as Grover Norquist’s litmus tests which have done so much damage to the Republican party. As soon as you put any complex policy issue into a black/white, for/against setting, you trivialize the complexity of public policy and end any reasonable debate.

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