The elected leaders of our party in the NM House of Representatives do not support an independent redistricting commission. On February 20, they voted to table HJR1 – a resolution to amend the NM Constitution to include an independent redistricting commission. As with any constitutional amendment, this would have required the approval of a majority of New Mexicans. But voters will never have an opportunity to cast a ballot for or against an independent redistricting commission because our elected leaders know best.
The NM Democratic Party Platform – the “constitution” for our political party – provides the thoughtful goals and aspirations of our party on many topics, including the arts, the economy, civil rights and criminal justice reform, energy and the environment, education, health care, immigration and much more. Every Democrat should read it. https://nmdemocrats.org/ethics-elections-and-politics/ It’s safe to assume that these adopted policies represent the hard work and consensus of many New Mexico Democrats who came together to debate these issues.
Certainly, we don’t all agree on every issue. Democrats are too smart and open-minded to march in mindless lockstep over the cliff, as we’ve tragically witnessed among some in the GOP. But when the New Mexico Democratic Party has made the effort to solemnize the values and positions that we support, our elected leaders must be tasked with the responsibility of explaining why they have disregarded our Party Platform and voted in contravention of it.
The NM Democratic Party Platform provides:
“Advocate for a constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering by creating and giving authority to an independent, non-partisan redistricting commission that includes diverse membership, specifically including Indigenous representation and participation. This commission shall be separate from the legislative process to prevent the drawing of political boundaries favoring one party over another or favoring incumbents.”
On the record and in private, the elected Dems who shot down HJR1 explained that they think the redistricting system is working well now and no changes are warranted. They also admit their fear that if the redistricting process was removed from the Legislature and put in the hands of an independent redistricting commission, they would lose control. Democrats might lose seats and New Mexico might fall into the hands of the GOP. Given the trajectory of the current national GOP following the January 6th insurrection, that’s a very scary thought.
Although the official position of the New Mexico Democratic Party was brought to the attention of our elected leaders before they voted to Table HJR1, none of them referred to the Platform in their comments opposing the independent redistricting commission. The result was their profound disrespect of New Mexico Democrats and all New Mexico voters who will not have an opportunity to vote on amending the state constitution. (In a 2022 poll, 77% of likely voters in NM wanted an independent redistricting commission.)
Following the close of the Legislative session, the New Mexico Democratic Party should invite every Democrat sitting on the NM House Judiciary Committee to a public meeting (zoom or otherwise) to discuss and explain their position regarding an independent redistricting commission. Perhaps they will convince the New Mexico Democratic Party to amend our Platform. Or they may learn from the Party why an independent redistricting commission is a goal and a shared value of our party. In either case, a dialogue is needed if the Democratic Party Platform is to be respected and fulfill its role in unifying our party.
Lora Lucero LoraLucero3@gmail.com
Progressive Democrats of America – Central New Mexico
February 21, 2023