We are inching towards January 1 and the end of 2020, January 20 and the end of Trump, and January 19 and the beginning of a new legislative session. Despite Trump, despite COVID, we have much to celebrate and much to look forward to.
“Celebration” of much of anything has been difficult in 2020. Too many are risking their lives daily to care for our sick, to deliver our food, to stock our shelves. But today, in the midst of a holiday season none will forget, Roxanne and I would like to celebrate and thank all of you for being active in the effort to create justice in NM.
By no means have we achieved it, but incrementally, we are making gains and building power to make still more gains in 2021. Even though we have not reached the Promised Land, there is dignity in the struggle and there are hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans who have benefitted from the advances for which we’ve advocated.
In the 2019 legislative session, the legislature:
- increased K-12 funding by $450 million;
- funded the Health Security Act fiscal analysis (inching it one step closer to implementation);
- secured an increase in the minimum wage;
- reformed the tax and revenue system to generate an additional $200 million in annual revenue;
- increased the Working Families Tax Credit;
- passed several LGBTQ+ rights bills; and
- approved meaningful gun violence prevention laws and long overdue election and legislative reform bills.
These kinds of advances significantly improve the lives of working people, our essential workers, and our vulnerable communities.
But many other bills failed to pass in 2019 or in 2020, largely due to a group of conservative Democratic Senators who were inflexible, out-of-step, and very effective in obstructing prudent investments in our people and/or support for those in greatest need. They are gone from the Senate now, thanks to a concerted effort on the part of hundreds, perhaps thousands of volunteers and donors across the state.
As a result, 2021 looks promising, with hopes of:
- advancing the Health Security Act still further along its path to implementation;
- institutionalizing our commitment to permanent fund allocations to early childhood;
- expanding further the Working Families Tax Credit;
- offering the voters a chance to secure their right to clean air, water and environment through the Green Amendment;
- creating a state Public Bank to vastly expand our capacity to invest in our state’s infrastructure and just transition; and
- almost certainly securing all New Mexican women the right to choose by decriminalizing abortion.
None of these things would have been remotely possible without people like you becoming engaged in the legislative and election processes. Thank you.
But as we restore ourselves over the holidays, there are some of us, in every community in this state, who are hurting. It is one thing to be poor; it is another to be both desperate and fearful of worse ahead. We’ve been warned of another, even worse wave of COVID, of frightful increases in evictions and unemployment. Amidst this we have a national leadership that has utterly failed us.
And in one of the wealthiest cities in this state, Santa Fe, one of our supporters offered this comment to yesterday’s post:
“A few days ago I volunteered with Mutual Aid 4 Santa Fe to pick up food boxes at the Food Depot for 5 families who could not drive themselves to get their own. I arrived at Agua Fria and Siler Road at 7 AM and was stunned to see hundreds of cars idling in line, waiting for food. The line stretched from Food Depot all the way down Siler to Agua Fria, then wrapped around West on Agua Fria all the way to the elementary school. From there it split in two, one line extending further west on Agua Fria and another extending South towards Home Depot. I’m told they were serving at least 1,000 people and that the lines are getting longer. This is commodity food, not even organic. Problems with supply chain and ever increasing demand is leading to some shortages already. This is America today. I heard that Jeff Bezos could pay every single one of his employees $102,000 and still have as much money as he did when the pandemic started. And he’s asking for donations??? The top 500-plus billionaires made $1 trillion dollars during the pandemic and the government insults the rest of us with $600?? $600 is what rich people think poor people consider a lot of money. I met a guy yesterday at Bien Venidos with no home, no phone, no computer, and everything he owned he was wearing. He was asking staff for socks and sharing a box of food with someone else. This is America today, in Santa Fe.”Richard Welker
First, thank you Richard, for taking the time to pick up groceries for people you do not know and for reporting on what, in our COVID isolation, too many of us do not see: our neighbors in desperate need. Some of those people in line are our essential workers, our recently unemployed, our young adults whose lives and careers have been disrupted completely by this pandemic. But it goes beyond the pandemic , these people have been even more impacted by our nation’s failure to embody empathy and compassion. And so we must do it ourselves. The people in that line, waiting for whatever food can be shared, are our people So today, Roxanne and I ask that you open your hearts and volunteer, and open your wallets and share what you can.
- Food Bank, Santa Fe. To donate, click here. They have a variety of donor programs targeting specific populations and needs. If you live outside Santa Fe, simply google: “Food banks near me,” to find a worthwhile program in your community.
- Earth Care/YUCCA’s COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network. As Richard Welker illustrated, this is another great way to focus your time and resources directly in service to our people whose health and housing are most vulnerable. The Network is comprised of community volunteers working to support one another, friends, family, and neighbors organized to meet each other’s basic survival needs at this critical time. It is a system of community to community support and organization for resource sharing, information dissemination, and resilience-building. The Santa Fe Mutual Aid Network is a grassroots-led effort with organizing and coordination support from Earth Care YUCCA/Poder Familiar, Red Nation, the Democratic Socialists of America – Santa Fe, and Fathers New Mexico. To sign up to volunteer, click here. To donate to the Mutual Aid Network click here
- Navajo and Hopi Nation Relief Fund. Retake Our Democracy’s “Voices from Navajo and Hopi Nations” was published on Friday, April 3. The post outlines the huge spread of the coronavirus in Navajo and Hopi Nations and how during the H1N1 flu epidemic Native Americans suffered four times the mortality rate of all other ethnic groups combined. In April, Retake supporters made over 150 donations to the Go Fund Me campaign, but the need remains. Click here to donate.
We want to close with an observation and then a question. The observation: America’s ideals are something we have never even remotely realized and yet democracy, freedom, justice, and equality remain aspirations of great value. Over the last four years we have seen this country become increasingly divided, with ideological differences too often translated into personal hatred and violence. We live in two worlds. If we are ever to achieve justice, freedom, democracy, or equality, we must reconnect with what unites us. And so we close today with quote from an Atlantic article from earlier this week.
“There’s a lovely line in William Wordsworth’s poem. The Prelude: ‘What we have loved, Others will love, and we will teach them how.’
There are still things worthy of our love. Honor, decency, courage, beauty, and truth. Tenderness, human empathy, and a sense of duty. A good society. And a commitment to human dignity. We need to teach others—in our individual relationships, in our classrooms and communities, in our book clubs and Bible studies, and in innumerable other settings—why those things are worthy of their attention, their loyalty, their love. One person doing it won’t make much of a difference; a lot of people doing it will create a culture.
Maybe we understand better than we did five years ago why these things are essential to our lives, and why when we neglect them or elect leaders who ridicule and subvert them, life becomes nasty, brutish, and generally unpleasant.
Just after noon on January 20, a new and necessary chapter will begin in the American story. Joe Biden will certainly play a role in shaping how that story turns out—but so will you and I.”The Atlantic: “Trump Is Losing His Mind” by Peter Wehner
And the question for you to discuss with your family and friends over the holidays or just to ponder yourself: How do we do this? How do we share what we love? How do we help others reconnect with the things we commonly crave? Feel free to offer your thoughts with a comment below.
Please take some time to rest and recharge. 2021 awaits, with challenges and opportunities. We can meet those challenges if we keep in our hearts why we care, if we do not forget those lines at The Food Bank, and if we act together. We can do this.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne