I saw the Sunday Albuquerque Journal on the supposed “rise of the independent voter” in New Mexico.
And, while I found the article informative on the whole, I think it missed the point. See the chart below. What it shows to me is a rapid decline in the number of registered Democrats in New Mexico while the number of Republicans has held steady during the last three decades.
The tenor of the article, rather than focusing on the massive shift of Democrat to independent, seemed to imply that both parties are losing influence. The reality is, however, that large numbers of voters have clearly expressed their frustration with one party, that being the Democrats.
So, what does that mean to an independent, free market think tank? Simply put, as I’ve written before, when it comes to education, the reformers fighting for progress include Gov. Martinez and supporters of her reforms which includes nearly all Republicans and some, but by no means all, Democrats. Also, if you haven’t noticed, Democrats, the party that generally supports bigger government, laws supporting unions, and more government spending, have controlled the Legislature for nearly the entirety of New Mexico’s 100 years of statehood. New Mexico has also been poor for decades (and as far as I can tell has never been among the wealthy states).
Is the relative decline of the Democratic Party in New Mexico a good thing? One-party rule of any kind is dangerous and inevitably leads to corruption and a lack of intellectual openness. To me, this is the story behind the story. With any luck it sets the table for a more economically and educationally-competitive New Mexico. Perhaps it will also lead to larger numbers of Democrats bucking the “old party line” and becoming Clinton-esque “New Democrats?”