Just Because You’re in the Garage…

"Madre de Nuevo Mundo" by Eloy Torrez

In a heated kitchen discussion at the nadir of George W. Bush’s presidency, one of my brothers said to my dad, “I don’t know why everyone calls him an idiot. He went to Yale.” My wise father answered, “Just ‘cause you’re in the garage, doesn’t mean you’re a car.”

Inspired by my father, I declare: Just because Susana is Martinez, doesn’t mean she’s gente.

I think about politics a lot. I read Daily Kos when I have a chance, listen to AM 1350 Progressive Talk in my car. I registered voters for Obama in 2008 and donated five and ten dollars at a time to his campaign. In my twenties, I took a gig as Communications Director for a congressional candidate. In high school, Mrs. Grace, my physics teacher, used to tell me I would be the first Latina governor of New Mexico. Back then, as Student Body President of Deming High School, heady from wielding the gavel at weekly Student Council meetings, I believed her. Even as I wrote press releases for that ill-fated congressional campaign, my gavel already a distant memory, I thought that Mrs. Grace’s prophecy might still come to be. It was partly our crushing defeat in that congressional race that led me down a more creative path. Though I would have ended up a writer eventually (it’s the only thing I love doing every single day), the blow of losing by a wide margin after living, eating and breathing the campaign, pushed me to nurture my inner artist sooner than I would have, had our bid been successful.

I don’t ever write about politics. Not elections or candidates or talking heads. And yet, my writing is political. I write about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and violence against women, loss of land, cancer, migration and immigration, the history of the U.S.-Mexico border, the things we don’t talk about. I write about these things through a small lens, what Anne Lamott calls the “one-inch picture frame,” entering big topics through the stories of people I know and love (self included). I write true stories that I hope are what Toni Morrison calls “unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time.”

Now Susana Martinez is positioning herself to become, not only New Mexico’s, but the nation’s first Latina governor. (Alas, I will have to pursue some other Latina first in The Land of Enchantment. Sorry, Mrs. Grace.)

New Mexicans, gente, just because Susana is Martinez, doesn’t mean she’s gente.

New Mexicans should be suspicious of any candidate whose major funder is Texas developer Bob Perry. He and his wife, Doylene, donated $450,000 (the largest in New Mexico history) to the Martinez campaign. You might recognize the name Bob Perry from the 2004 presidential election. He was the money behind the Swift Boat ads that took down John Kerry. You remember those. The ones featuring actual Vietnam vets, most of whom did not actually serve with Kerry.

$450,000 buys a lot of influence.

We deserve better.

Don’t just take my word for it. Visit our Super Friends at the Justice League PAC to read about Martinez’s outside influences. Make a donation to the PAC. Then tell all your familia that just because Susana could be your tía, doesn’t mean she’ll give you some ’squina.

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Published in: on October 5, 2010 at 10:41 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Can we send this posting to a national paper? This would be a fabulous op-ed… the NYTimes would love it. Thanks for some good morning wisdom and feistiness…

  2. Michelle, Your stories remind me of some produced by NPR or National Geographic; beautiful, insightful, depthful, intriguing, and informative. I began to think you should write for NPR. I love the one inch picture frame!

  3. I’m so glad you wrote your comments on Ms. martinez & I hope they can be circulated broadly. i don’t know what your last sentence means (the one about even if she could be your tia….) but I know it’s a wise advice because it’s coming from a wise person.

    • Too bad this post did not get out to more voters. 😦
      ‘squina comes from esquina, as in having someone in your esquina, or corner.


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