Serving the High Plains

Election season has me in a funk

All year long, I’ve had a hard time getting excited about this election year. I’m just not into it this time around.

This isn’t normal for me. For decades, I’ve told people that “politics is my favorite sport.” I liked the debates, the give and take, I even loved to hate the campaign commercials. But this time around, there’s just no fun in it for me.

Maybe it’s the lack of a newsroom. After decades of newspapering at larger dailies with good-size newsrooms, going through an election cycle at my small weekly is a bit lonely. In my experience, newsrooms are full of election analysis; more than opinion-mongering, reporters and editors debate strategy, messaging and who is and isn’t connecting with the voters. True believers don’t fit well into newsrooms, but skeptics and cynics sure do, and that’s the crowd I’m most comfortable with.

Or maybe it’s because I see our democracy falling apart. A democracy is only healthy if certain standards are honored, including a deference to fair and honest vote tallies.

People who run for office must accept the will of the majority and the rule of law, but now we have people denying these basic tenets of democracy. It’s being dismantled with disinformation, something I see in my Inbox every day, mostly from conniving Republican candidates — Trump and Ronchetti regularly send out misleading information designed to make you hate the Democrats and donate to their valiant efforts to combat them.

I would hope people see through such manipulations but obviously there are many who swallow such deceptions hook-line-and-sinker.

But I can’t get excited about the other side either. The Democratic Party of New Mexico has figured out what Republicans have known for years, that fear is a great motivator.

Over the last couple of weeks, with polls showing a tightening race between Michelle Lujan Grisham and Mark Ronchetti, New Mexico’s governor is bringing in the big guns to help put her over the top for a second term. First came Vice President Kamala Harris; then Deb Haaland, a bono fide New Mexican who made it to the big time as secretary of the interior; and now comes the president himself, Joe Biden. Yawn.

I suspect Lujan Grisham will win again, but it’s not a sure thing. People are concerned about the economy, particularly inflation, and crime, and the Dems generally don’t fare well with those issues.

Maybe that’s part of my funk this time around — the issues I see as most pressing, preserving democracy and saving our planet, just aren’t moving the dial.

Personally, I lean to the left, but I used to vote for a Republican every now and then. Now I see a spineless GOP, one that won’t or can’t stand up to Trump, even when the nation needs so desperately to be rid of him.

Nevertheless, the analytical side of me says this midterm election cycle is going to go to the Republicans. If it does, watch for a backlash in 2024, after a couple years of extremist behavior on Capitol Hill.

But personally, more than anything else, I wish facts and cold, hard truths would make a comeback. It would be great if Americans could agree, once again, that we can compete vigorously for the power that comes through elections and still come out united behind the all-American ideals of democracy, freedom, justice and fair play.

Because when those standards become irrelevant, “We The People” will die away.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at:

[email protected]

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