Retake Takes a Hiatus to Rethink Our Path to a Sustainable Organization

Tomorrow or Monday, we will ask you to take one more action in relation to SB 66, but today we announce an expansion of Retake’s work and ask for your input and support. Lastly, we offer our thanks to all of you. Your advocacy, encouragement, and support are what makes this a success.

Rethinking Retake Our Democracy Together

We need your help to enable Retake to expand the scope of its work and to create a more sustainable, long-term organization. Almost every day we hear from one of you, describing just how valuable our work is — the alerts, the blogs, the Zooms, and the formation of a community of advocates who together are building a systematic approach to advocacy in NM.

We want to ensure that that system can be expanded and the work sustained in the long term. That can’t happen with an all-volunteer organization that, to too great a degree, relies upon the work of a 65 and a 70-year-old in Santa Fe. We need to create a more diverse leadership and a more sustainable organization that continues this work indefinitely.

We have been talking about this for months with our board and with some of our allies. We have even shared our plan in one blog a few weeks ago. We are meeting with our board on April 1 to flesh out plans to create Rethink Our Democracy, a new 501c3 with a diverse staff and a business plan that will result in a more sustainable organization. Rethink will dive a bit deeper into what constitutes transformation and how to achieve it in a range of areas: land and water use, local sustainable development, food-to-table chains, rural and tribal infrastructure, energy democracy, and a path to a sustainable economy, to name just a few.

From our conversations with others, it is clear that 80% of what we do now is the work of a 501c3: educating on policies, issues, and legislation. Even advocacy and lobbying for legislation can be conducted within a 501c3, as long as it isn’t the organization’s dominant activity. But election work must be conducted within our existing 501c44, Retake Our Democracy.

As a 501c3, we will be able to generate foundation funding, large donations, and even bequests to sustain the work long-term. It will also allow us to enter into new directions, researching transformative innovations that have been successfully implemented in other states and nations and working with New Mexican stakeholders to replicate them here.

We want to be more proactive and less reactive. We want to generate programs, policies, and legislation that express our principles and priorities rather than just reacting to and supporting the ideas brought to us by our legislators. We want to continue to support programs operated by our allies, but we also want to create them. And we want to find language to describe this work in terms that resonate with most New Mexicans. We want the work to help unify the rural/urban, conservative/progressive divide. Despite all we fight over, there are so many values and principles we share. We want to find ways to build upon those shared values. We want to hear from you as we move forward. Please comment via the blog posts or email us at

The development of the 501c3 will require a lot of Roxanne’s and my time. We think Retake’s dominant values and principles are very clearly expressed in our blog and our advocacy, but now we need to synthesize those values and priorities into clear vision statements, a scope of work, and a business plan. We need to carefully define what is the work of Rethink and what is the work of Retake and create structures that separate that work.

To allow us the time to do this, Retake will significantly reduce the number of blogs and Alerts we publish. We will keep you informed during the upcoming Special Session beginning Tuesday, and we will complete the Report Card on this past session. Then the timing for this brief hiatus is excellent as there will be no primaries or legislative sessions for some time. This is the ideal timeframe to do this work.

Over the next few months, we will use the blog to share with you our emerging plans and also publish briefs that outline the kind of projects and legislation that Rethink will be advancing. We want you to be a part of this development, offering input as we progress. And we will regenerate the Transformation Study Group and hopefully engage more of you in that work.

Our goal is that by sometime this summer we will have outlined very clearly the kinds of initiatives that Rethink will develop and have forged relationships with the stakeholders, allies, and funders whose involvement and support will be needed to advance the work.

The development of the 501c3 will not just take focused time, it will also require donations to cover legal fees, the creation of a new website for Rethink, printed materials, an eventual office, and other costs. In reviewing IRS rules, we’ve learned that demonstrating public support is a key requirement for forming a 501c3. What’s more, in discussing the idea with foundations, we’ve been told that showing clear evidence of our work being valued in the community is essential to receiving foundation grants. You are our community.

Many of us have just received or soon will receive $1,400 relief payments. Roxanne and I plan to donate most all of that to organizations that directly serve and support those most in need of COVID-relief. We hope those of you who can afford to will do the same. We also hope that you can make a generous donation to Retake Our Democracy to help us launch a sustainable organization, and that you will also consider a smaller monthly donation of $5, $10, $20, or $25 to help sustain that work. Make a donation by going to this link. Those of you who prefer to mail checks can do so to: Retake Our Democracy, P.O. Box 32464, Santa Fe, NM 87594.

For now your donation will not be tax-deductible as Retake is a 501c4 (sigh), but your donations now will us develop Rethink Our Democracy, where your donations will then be tax deductible. Your contributions will demonstrate to the IRS, to foundations, and to other large donors that our work is valued not just by the founders and board but by scores, hopefully hundreds, of you.

In closing, Roxanne and I again want to strongly express our gratitude to you. The work we have been doing the last five years has been one of the most gratifying things we’ve done in our lifetimes. But we want this work to endure. We won’t be able to do the heavy lifting forever. Your financial support now and your monthly contributions will help us sustain that work.

Launching Rethink Our Democracy was motivated by the many, many kind notes we receive that express how you value our work. That work deserves to be sustained because we can’t abandon the project. We must continue to press our legislators to do the right thing and we must pave new paths, generate new ideas, and turn them into projects and legislation that help New Mexico escape being last in everything good. We can help our state make a swift, just transition to a sustainable, regenerative future.

Let’s do this.

In solidarity, hope, and gratitude,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Actions, Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform

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7 replies

  1. To me the most pertinent question Rethink Our Democracy can ask is why we in the United States accept a two party system. Virtually no other democracy accepts this limit. What structural changes will help us near 100% voter participation? Which election law, media, and cultural changes can we promote to break the duopoly’s stranglehold?

    Naturally, I have a lot of examples and suggestions, but I think I’d rather leave it as an open ended question for now.

    Thanks to Roxanne and Paul and the rest of the board and activists for looking at this exciting new outgrowth of Retake!

  2. Great to hear of your plans to make Retake a more sustainable organization. I believe the greatest contribution you have made has been the understanding of political realities at a higher level and working to develop primary challenges leading to a New Democratic majority. I would prefer to see this be your emphasis going forward, rather than individual issues priorities. I believe that if we have the right people in the legislature we will have the right results.

    Ron Flax-Davidson

  3. FYI…I attempted to use your link in this article to donate, and the PayPal prompt informs me that my “donation was already complete”!?!? Not true. Haven’t donated to you folks in a long time. I will send a check to your Santa Fe address…just thought you should know this is happening.
    Thanks for all the work you did this session keeping us up to date on the bills and providing ways to contact committees and leaders! Just wish the session could be longer, members paid and important bills able to be modified, voted on and signed! Good luck on your plans and take a rest!
    Grayce Schor

  4. We agree in principle with making Retake sustainable over the coming decades. There are, however, far too many 501(c)(3)’s in Santa Fe. This makes fundraising almost impossible for everyone. So my first suggestion would be to register Retake as a nonprofit in another New Mexico city or town that would be better for fundraising purposes.

    Our nonprofit has offices in Santa Fe, which leads people to think that Santa Fe alone can and should fund it. So the same people are being asked, over and over again, for support. And we are very active throughout northern New Mexico, expanding activities to the southern part of the state, as well. Fundraising is the bread and butter of a fully professionalized nonprofit, so it’s a crucial consideration from the get-go.

    Please let me give this more thought, because we also value the work Retake is doing. What would be best is for Retake to possibly merge with another organization (or two) that is doing similar work. The Santa Fe Community Foundation and other foundations have funding available for this purpose. Not sure if you had given any thought to this idea or whether it would make sense. But it seemed like mentioning the idea might generate more thoughts of how to work with another existing organization and strengthen it in the process.



  5. Hello dynamic duo.

    I listened to Paul and the Common Cause Lady yesterday on the radio. I have never heard a more valiant effort to make lemonade out of rock hard lemons roasting in the sun for a month.

    Patience, although a virtue of high import, takes a toll on even the fiercest gladiators.

    As i suggested two years ago, to make our state function democratically and sustainably, which then could be a catalyst for the nation, Retake had to go pro, becoming a citizen-led model of quality that would either teach or embarrass the state into overhauling its Constitution to get a professional, full-time governing body with rigid campaign finance laws or rank-choice voting supported by public monies only, supported by strict term limits, no revolving door graft, a monstrously competent legislative staff and research bureau, immense anti-lobbying laws, funding through use of the two huge reserves and big tax increases on the wealthy and successful corps., to incubate and overhaul the state economy to allow it to survive as a truly Enchanted Place.

    That is the longest sentence I have ever written, with no typos and no pausing to vet my words.

    Retake and others did Herculean work this session, and it majorly did not pay out because the system is completely broken, entirely the fault of the human cabal of powerful demagogues that have controlled this territory since 1846.

    New Mexico – The Laissez-Faire, National-Sacrifice-Zone, Company Store of Disenchantment and Ruinous Demise. Never, in my 48 years living here, did I ever think I would say that, and mean it.

    The only way to defeat the Extinction Machine of Vampire Capitalism is to create a ‘public’ enterprise so large, so skillful, so financially and regulatorily powerful and efficient that it becomes a Public Security Force to elevate its citizens from chattel to sovereigns.

    Rethinking Our (all the people’s) democracy looks like this – Rescue, Recover, Reduce to Rubble, Re-invent, Regenerate and Require Resiliency as a Requisite, the Ecology of self-governance.

    Today, Dan Balz of The Washington Post was reprising Biden’s call for more quality and quantity in government. I did an hour’s worth of research and came up with what follows. The data and my extrapolations show where this nation, and state, are at, thanks to the Vampires of Extinction.

    “Let’s compare federal civilian management responsibilities, with federal income from all sources, with federal expenditures from all sources, and then compare those realities with the total amount of caloric energy and monies used by the entire nation (mostly via the private sector), for all purposes, in say 2019.

    ‘murka consumed 22 quintillion calories of energy from all sources, rounded off, in 2019 (18,000 calories /human /day, 2000 of which are food energy, or 770 billion calories).  This does not include out-of-country military and covert consumption.

    5.4 trillion cal./day in ‘murka are consumed driving the society onward, minus food energy.

    Each civilian federal employee (2.1 million total) is responsible, in some way, for monitoring/regulating/assisting 160 citizens each day on average who devour about 2.9 million calories.  They also monitor 7 million private firms doing business in ‘murka, and a military of more than half a million active duty personnel.

    All Federal revenues range between 3-4 trillion yearly, but expenditures fall short by around a trillion each year.  All that money is spent, in one way or another, on 335 million people, but not in any equal proportion for any person.  Well more than half is spent on the private sector, plus the military. 
    Total private sector profit yearly is, surprisingly, about the same as the federal govt. spends on the private sector (1.5-1.9 trillion).

    Corporate taxes amount to less than 10 percent of the total federal revenue – 300-400 billion.

    250 million ‘murkans work for a 99-percent private sector, looked out for by a 1 percent civilian govt. work force.

    18,000 calories per day per person are consumed, along with the accompanying pollution, waste and gross inefficiency, to run a 99 percent private economy that receives as much in expenditures from the federal govt. as it earns in one year, and a military of 500k persons that consumes 800 billion more dollars yearly.

    And ‘murkan govt. is TOO BIG?  My backside.”

    In 2019-20, political contributions to the NM House and Senate were nearly $20 million, and the five federal positions raised more than 30 million. Yet we cannot have a ‘fully staffed’ legislative professional staff, full-time paid legislature, Environment dept., EMNR dept., Game and Fish dept., and a dozen more??? All our permanent funds, of all types, probably hit more than $25B, maybe a lot more, largest in the entire nation.

    Best of luck, seriously. You will need it. The time is 11.59.15, leaving 45 seconds until the Extinction Bomb goes off.

    Mick Nickel


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