As a child, I always heard my parents echo the saying: “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.” That’s the Spanish idiom for “A man is known by the company he keeps” or the less refined, “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” So this campaign season I’m paying very close attention to the company being kept by our candidates.
I’ve already found many of Mitt Romney’s choices to be, at best, questionable. What some of his friends signal is flat out frightening, from Big Oil to the Koch brothers. The convention this week gives us an even further look into who counts themselves (or would like to count themselves) among Mitt’s friends and therefore, a glimpse into what a Romney presidency could look like.
As a Hispanic voter, I’ll admit the stage is seductive. Having several notable Hispanics on the agenda does, at first blush, seem to say, “The GOP cares about Hispanics.” Unfortunately a closer look reveals that heritage in no way means that you represent the interests of the majority of the U.S. Hispanic community.
Just look at one of last night’s featured speakers, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. Governor Sandoval has publicly supported the Arizona law which compels local and state law enforcement to question the identity and immigration status of people if there is reason to think they are not here legally, a law also favored by that GOP darling Marco Rubio, also among the GOP cast for the convention.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, often called the ultimate immigrant success story, has similarly turned her back on Hispanics, promising in her 2010 campaign to repeal a law that allows illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses. In fact, Ms. Martinez will be in charge of delivering the party platform on immigration, written by none other than Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the author of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration bill and a key author of the GOP platform on immigration.
But even as a Hispanic voter, my concerns go far beyond immigration and run the gamut from women’s rights to environmental protection where, once again, a look at Governor Martinez’s friends tells you a lot about what she really values.
In her short tenure, she has worked hard to protect Big Oil and the dairy/livestock industry as they threaten groundwater and New Mexico’s treasured natural resources. She has fought regulations to prevent massive industrial dairy farms, known as CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) from dumping huge amounts of waste where it can leach into groundwater supplies (currently legal in NM, gross!); stopped regulations to keep oil and gas drilling waste out of groundwater, and kept EPA from requiring modern pollution controls on the dirty San Juan power plant, to name a few.
Why? Clearly this in no way benefits New Mexicans but one look at her friends in Big oil and the dairy/livestock industry gives you the answer. And those friends have showered more than $1 million in campaign contributions on her.
So as we watch the convention this week, let’s remember that like candidate Romney, some other featured Republicans clearly care much more about protecting their friends than taking care of the people they represent.