COMMENTARY: 7:01 p.m. on Election Day. 12:01 p.m. on the last day of the state legislative session. Floor debates that go until 3 a.m. For those of us in the political world, this is when our day ends. For Heath, it’s just getting started.
As his girlfriend for the past two years, I’ve seen Heath be relentless at getting the stories we need and getting them right. When my day is done, his is moving into high gear with analysis, interviews, photos, editing and publishing – not to mention moderating Facebook discussions. This requires lots of snacks and coffee.
Beyond his relentlessness, Heath and I can get into pretty heated discussions about politics, race and how New Mexico can thrive. He writes commentaries and articles that I don’t always agree with – and I still need to read them. Otherwise, I stay stuck in my bubble with all the ideas and opinions that make me happy.
Happy shouldn’t be the emotional goal of news. As a community organizer I have to be clear about all the political dynamics, not just the dynamics I hope to have happen. I expect that my opponents will not always be my opponents, and my allies may vanish. So why would I want news that creates such stark permanency and partisanship? Why would you?
I want news that will challenge me and give me insight on policy, not just the politics. I need news that brings intellectual heft — when what we have in New Mexico is a lot of political chum that gets us worked up like partisan sharks in our collective waters.
I don’t want chum. I want good journalism. That type of journalism requires investment. We have to invest in it. I believe you want better news, more honest, nonpartisan news than what is too often being flung onto our smartphones. Even when the news is hard to hear.
That means I need to care about issues like transparency, ethics and tax reform, which are not the most glamorous topics. But those are the very issues that determine whether we even know what elected leaders are doing with our votes and tax dollars as they decide policies that impact the health of our kids, public lands, job creation, immigration.
Unfortunately, many of us in New Mexico believe that our public relationships with elected leaders are like our personal relationships: based on “unconditional love.” No. These public relationships are based in accountability. Good, honest journalism is one of the cornerstones of accountability we need.
NMPolitics.net isn’t a nonprofit. Heath has limited access to foundation money. That’s why he needs our help.
Heath doesn’t spin news to make us feel warm and fuzzy or cheer on our political teams. On Election Day, during legislative sessions, while surfacing small-town questions about policing and surveillance, while most of us are sleeping during 3 a.m. debates, I want journalism that reveals truth, uncovers policy, and can unmask the political chum we’ve all become accustomed to consuming. I want Heath Haussamen and NMPolitics.net.
Sarah Silva is on sabbatical from her job with NM CAFé and is helping Haussamen fundraise during that time. NMPolitics.net has a 2017 goal having 100 people signed up to make monthly donations to help sustain its work. Sign up to make your monthly donations here.