Merritt Hamilton Allen, whose work is published previously in the Edgewood Independent, will also provide her columns to the Grant County Beat. 

National unity, quantified.

The weeks leading up to Independence Day this year have brought highs and lows on the national unity front. Juneteenth celebrations nationwide took hold as an established Federal holiday and Pride Month seemed bigger and more widespread than ever on a global scale.

Simultaneously, half the American population saw their health care rights of the last five decades challenged with the overturn of Roe V. Wade, and the January 6 hearings have brought into the public light testimony showing that a President felt he was greater than the Constitution.

The Vanderbilt University Project on Unity and American Democracy has initiated a statistical measure of national unity: The Vanderbilt Unity Index (VUI). The VUI measures five factors to build its index, measured quarterly: national Presidential approval, ideological extremism, social trust, Congressional polarization, and protests and civil unrest.

The trends over the last 40 years are fascinating. The 80s were a comparatively unified decade. The 10s were not. The general trend from 1994-2022 is downward. The most noticeable downward slide and lowest quarterly scores occur between 2016-2021. Anyone who has been alive since 1981 should not be surprised by these trends.

Read more ...

A question for those challenging our primary results

I really want to be done with the primary. It was unexciting and seriously no one I supported prevailed except for in the Bernalillo County sheriff's race. But, as a national news correspondent noted this week, the false and self-serving mistrust sowed over our elections in 2020 is now a standalone kinetic force.

This must stop.

Election integrity is vital. Seeking to overturn an election because your candidate didn't happen to win is not election integrity; it's thuggish authoritarianism. Challenging primary results over a "gut feeling" after the fact is not election integrity. It's either a) sheer contrariness and laziness, as one could have tried to reform election processes before the election; or b) embarrassing naïveté showing that one will listen to any snake oil salesman trumpeting the latest conspiracy theory gobbledygook about "statistical manipulation" in our voting machines.

Here's my simple question to anyone who wants to challenge the 2022 primary results after the fact: did you attend and participate in the public testing of the voting process held in every county before early voting began? Because this was your opportunity to see the process in action. And if you wanted to raise a stink about the voting machines, this was the time.

Read more ...

Dumpster fire primaries yield mediocre politicians

New Mexico just finished one of its dullest, yet nastiest primary seasons to date. Midterm elections are generally less exciting, and turnout in 2022 was so-so – a paltry 25.5% (2018 turnout was 27.6%).

The two biggest races – the Republican gubernatorial primary and the Democratic race for attorney general – quickly devolved into non-issue slugfests. The GOP governor's contest became all about sending troops to the border and Trump loyalty.

Here's where that is problematic. The NM National Guard has no role at the border. In its previous deployment, the men and women of the Guard left their families and jobs to do make-work jobs like hand out blankets and bottled water. Border security is a Federal issue, dear reader, and one that Congress has conveniently ignored for more than five decades. Let's not waste millions of dollars and yank the Guard away from their regular jobs for a political show.

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Crucial assistance for the East Mountains coming this summer

We all know New Mexico, like much of the country, is in a behavioral health crisis. We have a shortage of providers, and we don't pay them enough. And too often, our law enforcement officers find themselves in violent situations that could have been prevented or mitigated with earlier behavioral health intervention.

Through the efforts of Bernalillo County District 5 County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty, the East Mountains will get their first public behavioral health resource center this summer. The lease was signed last month at the former Imagine Gallery in Tijeras. The new center, due to open in August, will be called Imagine Wellness.

You do not have to be a Bernalillo County resident to avail yourself of the services offered by Imagine Wellness; it is open to any area resident, whether from Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe or Torrance County. The center will focus on peer support, mentoring and "non-talk" therapies and provide referrals to clinical services.

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Is something afoot in Grant County?

5/20/2022

Nationally, I don't like the Big Lie accusations going back and forth. If you lose an election in the United States, it is not okay to throw a big tantrum, fire everyone in sight, and encourage domestic extremists to mobilize and storm the Capitol the day the Electoral College votes are tallied.

That's my opinion.

Nor do I like elements of the GOP or Republican-led state legislature overly politicizing the elections process to favor their candidates. This is precisely what they have been accusing the Democrats of – voter suppression. This is not okay, either.

That's my opinion.

I have read with interest the coverage in The Grant County Beat and The Silver City Daily Press about voter registration in Grant County. Because I have (for good reason) been following local elections there since 1998.

Read more ...

A year later at CYFD

5/13/2022

This time last year, without primary campaign ads blasting faux scandals across our televisions, we were caught up by a shocking political story that really happened: Everyone working at the Children, Youth and Families had been directed to auto-delete text messages on state-issued phones as a matter of policy.

We found out when a wife and husband recruited from out of state to take senior roles at the troubled agency, Debra and Cliff Gilmore, took the story public after being summarily fired for expressing concern over the text message policy, a multi-million-dollar no-bid software contract and other apparent ethics violations.

What's happening now? I checked in with Cliff Gilmore and tracked through Searchlight New Mexico's coverage of the scandal and also the CYFD website to get a pulse on CYFD in mid-2022.

Read more ...

DTS and minor-party voters can vote in this year’s primary!

[Editor's Note: This was missent last week, so the Beat just received it, but it's still timely.]

4/29/2022

DTS and minor-party voters can vote in this year’s primary!

Same-day voter registration isn’t as harebrained as I thought.

Early voting for the primary election in New Mexico begins in just a couple weeks, and county clerks statewide have been prepping for same-day voter registration. If you are a conservative like me, you probably aren’t thrilled at the prospect.

Read more ...

Life after Roe V. Wade

The news out of the Supreme Court this week is shocking at many levels. From the unprecedented leaking of a draft majority opinion to the incendiary content of that draft opinion, jaws from coast to coast are agape.

Quite simply, when the opinion is filed later this year, the Federal government will no longer weigh in on the legality of abortion. The matter of regulation will be left to the states. 26 states will all but ban the practice. New Mexico will not. Texas and Oklahoma already have. Arizona and Utah are likely to follow suit.

This will force women seeking abortion care to travel. This has been the case in Texas, which has banned all abortions after six weeks (before most women know they're pregnant) since September 1, 2021. According to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, about half of the women seeking abortion care after the ban went to Oklahoma and a quarter of them to New Mexico. As of last month, Oklahoma is no longer an option.

Banning the practice does not eliminate demand.

Read more ...

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