What’s Going on in New Mexico?
Where we are now
New Mexico is one of the best kept secret in the United States. But rarely do we gain the eye of the national spotlight and when we do, it’s almost always bad news. The most recent bad news coming out of New Mexico is Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order to effectively ban the 2nd Amendment right to public carry. This on the basis that so-called gun violence is a health concern such that it constitutes a public health crisis. More on this in a moment.
What New Mexicans understand is that we rank last, or near last in the important things – violent crime and property crime, education, and healthcare access. And where does our economy stand? Well, we’re one of the poorest (bottom 3) in the nation. And while the state’s short term fiscal stability looks great, thanks to oil production here surpassing that of the entire country of Venezuela – insert ominous foreshadowing music here – our long term fiscal stability is daunting to say the least.
But New Mexicans also understand how important our culture is. If you’ve ever visited here, you’ll notice that, everywhere you turn, there is something uniquely New Mexican to experience. A friend of mine recently likened it to being in England – everyone speaks the same language, but you know you’re in a different country. In New Mexico – you’re definitely in a different country.
In fact, I’ve also been told by political activists outside NM who come visit for for political reasons, they’ll tell you our politics doesn’t work the same way as anywhere else in the United States. They’re right about that – and there are reasons for that.
Politically we’re a “blue state” – that’s supposed to mean we’re a highly progressive state in total lockstep with the Biden Administration’s agenda, right? No, actually. That couldn’t be further from the truth – even while our Governor is known for fawning over Biden every chance *she* can get. B
ut the Governor’s recent overreach regarding the public carry of firearms has blown wide open another one of NM’s best kept secrets: Historically, OUR Democrats have been pro-2nd Amendment and for most of our history we had very few gun control laws.
NM is (or was) home to some rather legendary people, places, and events. From Billy the Kid, Doc Holiday, and Pat Garrett, to the Pueblo Revolts – the only successful uprising against the Spanish conquests, to innovators like Jeff Bezos, to places like White Sands, the mountains of the Sangre de Christo, artists in Taos, the Caves of Carlsbad, and our annual International Balloon Fiesta – which just wrapped up.
Who we are now
What does it mean to be New Mexican? Well, that’s easy, right? Were you born in the state of New Mexico, then you’re New Mexican.
Let me read for you what Wikipedia says about who Nuevomexicanos are:
The Hispanos of New Mexico, also known as Neomexicanos (Spanish: Neomexicano) or Nuevomexicanos, are Hispanic residents originating in the historical region of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, today the US state of New Mexico (Nuevo México), southern Colorado, and other parts of the Southwestern United States including Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Utah.
They are descended from Oasisamerica groups and the settlers of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the First Mexican Empire and Republic, the Centralist Republic of Mexico, and the New Mexico Territory.
The descendants of these New Mexican settlers make up an ethnic community of more than 340,000 in New Mexico, with others throughout the historical Spanish territorial claim of Nuevo México. Alongside Californios and Tejanos, Neomexicanos are part of the larger Hispano community of the United States, who have lived in the American Southwest since the 16th century.
These groups are differentiated by time period from the population of Mexican Americans that arrived after the Mexican–American War and later Mexican Revolution. They also differ genetically in their indigenous heritage, as Mexican Americans tend to be more related to Mesoamerican groups, whereas New Mexicans are more often related to Oasisamerican indigenous peoples of the North American Southwest.
You can see a list of Nuevomexicanos family names on Wikipedia. I’m born and raised in New Mexico, but I don’t count as nuevomexicano. And those like me, non-hispanic Europeans, only comprise 35% of the population. The majority of our population is Hispanic, which may be white Hispanic or not.
Ie. Nuevomexicanos are the result of Spanish (European) or Mexican (Latino) intermarriage with the Native American (oasisamerican) population here. Oasisamerican groups are distinct from other Native American tribes outside the southwest. So to be New Mexican – Nuevomexicanos is truly unique.
NM is also Historically Catholic-syncretistic – or Pueblo Catholic
Long before the US push for Manifest Destiny in the West, Roman-Catholic Spain took to colonizing what we now call New Mexico. This attempt at violent religious conquest is what triggered the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. And while this revolt is considered to by historians to be the only successful resistance by Native Americans against Europeans during this time, the pueblos would succumb to Spanish colonization about 10 years later.
Because the Roman Catholic Church was in the practice of syncretizing – that is, fusing older pagan practices into Roman Catholic practice, many – not all – Native American religious practice was therefore fused with Roman Catholic.
Protestant influences have never really gained the traction here that Roman Catholic syncretism did. Many protestant denominations came to New Mexico for missionary work in early American-west settlements. But the harsh climate of the high desert Southwest proved to be an insurmountable challenge for most.
As you might imagine, NM’s history is not exactly all rosy. The intermarriage of Spanish with Native Americans was an obvious consequence of the efforts by Spanish Conquistadors to convert Native American pagans to Roman Catholicism – and like the Catholic European Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition was violent – not peaceful.
None the less, a new culture was born from that, and being neuevomexicano means embracing the cultures of both lines – and learning to not repeat the mistakes and violence of the past. But this isn’t easy – the Equestrian statue of Juan de Onate used to be in Rio Arriba county until 2020. It was moved this year to Espanola, but protesters prompted the installation to be postponed.
Oh! And a protestor was shot by – well, someone – and the available video doesn’t make it clear if it was self-defense or unprovoked. In any case, it’s not a good situation.
What’s Going on in New Mexico? Some more thoughts to consider
Most Democrats here in NM are anti-progressive. While Progressive Democrats have a foothold on power, they didn’t achieve it through persuasion but rather intimidation and censorship. NM Dems have historically been known for being what we might call JFK Democrats – or what amounts Classical liberals (or civil libertarian) with a strong emphasis on the social-safety net, and also on 2nd Amendment rights.
Our Dems were always known for being strong on the rights of firearms ownership and self-defense. Neuvomexicanos have understood they needed to protect themselves. NM has been largely ruled by outsiders for the past 400+ years in one form or another.
If you look New Mexico history, you’ll find that from the Spanish conquest onwards, this region was governed by outsiders – whether it was the Spanish during the conquests, Mexicans during the Mexican-American war, or US federal appointments when New Mexico became a US territory, or even – Progressive money pouring in from out of state to again dramatically change what it means to be New Mexican.
The 2nd Amendment has always been about a right to self-defense against those who would illegitimately lay claim to the people living here and their property.
Those authoritarians who wish to rule illegitimately always seek to disarm the populace first. Our NM Dems today – the anti-progressive Democrats, largely Nuevomexicano families need to realize they are still the majority in their party and they are not alone – even if the progressives would have them feel alone and cut off for not towing the line. The temptation, however, is take power from the existing progressives, and maintain the authoritarianism with new people in office.
And if you’re listening to this, wondering about the Republicans – the NMGOP has done absolutely nothing except reinforce the stereotype that Republicans are a bunch of old, rich, racist, curmudgeonly white men clinging to power – but really they’re just clinging to the chairs they’ve been rearranging on a sinking Titanic.
My dear New Mexicans – all of you who call this place home, want peace, freedom, and prosperity for yourself and your families. There is a way out of this mess.
If you’re listening to this, and you look at politics in New Mexico and say to yourself, that both parties are horrible – both parties have created the problems we face now – both parties are out of touch – and both parties are tone deaf to the problems and issues we face every day – I want to tell you, you are not alone. In fact, not only are you not alone, but you are part of the real majority in NM.
Here’s the dirty little secret of New Mexican politics. The progressive democrats only make up roughly 20-25% of the population. The old curmudgeonly Republicans make up even less. They are the fringe! The extremes of both parties, that is, are the fringe.
The rest of us, if you include so-called left of center and right of center – those of us still believe in fundamental principles of individual human rights … for all … comprise the majority middle. That doesn’t mean we agree on every possible point of public policy, but it does give us a common ground from which to stand and have a conversation – a civil conversation. And in NM, it’s definitely the majority.
If you’re a New Mexican listening to this, completely jaded by politics and the prospects of fixing things, let me leave you with this: of all the states in the US, NM is in the best position to make real change because we have the largest demographic of any state that is finally ready to wash our hands of the stranglehold of the two-party duopoly.
Let’s trim the fringe and start a real conversation.