This is the third in a series on gratitude for 2022’s significantly positive political events.
By Jennie Lusk
• Our Democratic legislators in D.C, Governor Lujan Grisham, and President Biden earned our gratitude for their work on behalf of New Mexico residents.
They have worked to reimburse and repair lives destroyed in fires beginning last Spring because of federal decisions to conduct a “controlled burn” during our spring windy season—a burn that quickly torched over 530 square miles, according to Reuters News Service.
Federal actors oblivious to New Mexico weather patterns and dismissive of advice of local ranchers and farmers caused the blazes that destroyed lands and wildlife, polluted waters and that now will cause flooding in the devastated areas. There’s no way to be grateful for such stubbornly arrogant decision-making.
However, we can be grateful that our Democratic Congressional delegation convinced the federal government that the northern New Mexico fires that burned for some four months could not be classified as natural disasters, for which people receive less than 100% for their losses. Since the federal government triggered the fires, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking responsibility and reimbursing affected people for lost wages, property losses and damages, business interruption, new flood insurance, and insurance deductibles as well as reforestation. Just this week, Democratic members of New Mexico’s Congressional delegation announced New Mexico is likely to get another $1.45 billion in wildfire reparations that were included in the disaster supplemental section of Congress’ appropriations bill, bringing the total allocated to the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act to $3.95 billion. The Senate’s approved it as of this writing, leaving only the House to act.
That kind of money doesn’t come easily, so credit is due to our Democratic electeds who used their powers of persuasion to ensure recognition that New Mexico’s damages did not end when the fires were finally extinguished.
• Those of us who are “just Americans,” as President Volodymyr Zelensky put it in his comments to President Joe Biden before a joint session of Congress Wednesday, can be grateful for Ukraine’s determination to remain democratic.
It’s been inspiring. It’s also blazed a path for overcoming the corruption and deception that involved our country during the Trump administration. See https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/02/magazine/russiagate-paul-manafort-ukraine-war.html?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email
Even old Peaceniks who have not supported the U.S. military approach to Iraq, Afghanistan (and nevermind Vietnam) have cheered Zelensky and the Ukrainian freedom fighters on. Their foe is ours—and not only in the person of Vladimir Putin. Ukraine’s foe is ours: a leader or leaders who discredit the will of voters.
Americans have laughed at the bogus elections of dictators (including Putin) across the world, believing that we know our system doesn’t force people to vote for certain candidates or risk reprisals. But if we’re so confident, why have so many of us marveled at U.S. voters in Georgia and Texas as they stood in line for hours to make sure their votes were cast and counted, even when some legislatures banned handing waiting voters so much as a bottle of water as they wait? Some state legislators are doing all they can to limit voting, the essence of anti-democratic activity, and that fact is more than disturbing.
The 95% of election deniers who ran for statewide office in November’s U.S. elections were resoundingly rejected. Winning secretaries of state who protected the right to vote received more votes than governors in many states including New Mexico. One poll showed that ½ of the people who switched parties between 2020 and 2022 did so based on election denial, and U.S. voters rejected violence, lies and threats. See polls at States United, a nonpartisan election protection organization. https://statesuniteddemocracy.org/resources/surveying-voters-election-denialism/
Our democracy is under threat internally. Most Democrats know it could disappear before our eyes without eternal vigilance, but most of us also assume that somehow it will survive, even without individual commitment to its preservation. Ukraine reminds us steadily of something so important—that preserving democracy is serious and worthwhile business. We can be grateful, then, for both Ukraine’s people and its leader for the reminder.