I'll be honest, I've been pretty disgusted with the callousness of our national discourse, how so many politicians, including Democrats, seem all too eager to balance state and federal budgets on the backs of the poor. But seeing the state of our national discourse has caused me to realize that I have to resist political prejudice.
I've been living in New Mexico for a little more than two years now. When I lived in Missouri, I didn't follow local politics very much. Here it's hard not to. I live in San Juan County, one of the most conservative counties in the entire nation, and my father-in-law, a staunch conservative himself, used to own the local newspaper. Needless to say, this makes for some very interesting table talk!
Full disclosure: I voted for Governor Martinez this last election (who, by the way, is the nation's first Latina governor). The choice was between Susana Martinez, a Republican, and Dianne Denish, a Democrat. To make my decision, I literally went online and read for hours about the two candidates. They both seemed to be highly qualified, but in the end I was persuaded by the argument that Martinez would end the "pay to play" politics associated (right or wrong) with the previous administration. I fully realize that I, and the people of New Mexico, could have been duped by the newspapers, which is why if I do vote in elections (and that's a big if), I always take my vote with a grain of salt.
I don't believe that ministers of the gospel should endorse candidates, but that doesn't mean that we can't give "honor to whom honor is due" from time to time. So while I hope that I'm not violating my own principles here, let me give you a few reasons why I like our Republican Governor Susana Martinez.
1. Governor Martinez has rescued herself from the state investment board, a crucial step in ending "pay to play" politics.
2. When Governor Martinez was criticized for ordering the state police to report undocumented workers arrested for violent crimes to the federal immigration authorities, Governor Martinez went on a P.R. campaign encouraging New Mexico's women to report domestic abuse, assuring them that they need not fear the immigration police. That tells me that, whether or not you agree with her decision, the governor is at least trying to do the right thing to protect New Mexico citizens.
3. While the governor is indeed a fiscal conservative, Martinez has made it clear that education and health care should not be on the chopping block in order to balance the state's budget. In a strange role reversal, she's actually fighting the democrats to include more funding for these priorities in her proposed 2012 budget.
It seems to me that New Mexico's newest Republican governor may represent a more compassionate conservativism. This doesn't meant that I agree with all of Governor Martinez's political positions. What it does mean is that sometimes I have to look inside my heart and ask the Lord to forgive me for a certain type of prejudice that, if I'm not careful, can be just as corrupting as any other type of prejudice.
Aaron D. Taylor is the author of Alone with A Jihadist: A Biblical Response to Holy War. To learn more about Aaron's ministry, go to www.aarondtaylor.com. To follow Aaron on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/aarondtaylor. Aaron can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.