COMMENTARY: On the morning of June 14, as I watched news reports of a Republican congressman being shot (for being Republican) while at practice for a bipartisan charity baseball game in Virginia, my immediate reaction was to text Congressman Steve Pearce, who was at the scene, and offer prayers for those involved.
I then left my Santa Fe apartment, and as I climbed into my vehicle I noticed glass on the front seat and looked up to see a bullet hole in the windshield.
To say I was concerned is an understatement. Because of what was unfolding in Washington D.C., I immediately thought it was related to my political affiliation.
To compound the situation, my deputy commissioner’s vehicle was vandalized the day before; while she was working in the field someone slashed her tire.
I later learned that on June 13, the day before the D.C. shooting, gunshots had been fired near my apartment off Canyon Road and it was likely that my vehicle was struck at that time by a .40 caliber weapon. I honestly don’t know if the shooting was related to my political affiliation or not, but in light of the tragedy in D.C., it causes one to reflect on the overheated and dishonest rhetoric coming from the extreme progressive left toward conservative public officials.
Uncivil discourse puts our entire country at risk. I fully support our First Amendment right to free speech, but we must temper that against harming another person, even a person espousing views with which we strongly disagree.
In this age of hyper-available, instant and far-reaching information, it is important that we are careful to be honest in our communications and cognizant of not publicly de-humanizing our political opponents or those who disagree with us philosophically.
One thing we should all be able to agree on is that we are all Americans who are trying to make this country a better place — and we should be able to have an honest debate about how to do that. If somebody honestly falls short of doing a good job, fine, then let’s have an honest discussion about those shortcomings — something we should be able to do without resorting to lying, name-calling or, God forbid, violence.
As the 2018 political season gets underway, the actions by some who don’t respect the need for truthful debate and instead choose to target conservatives affect those considering a run for office. As I evaluate my own options, the vitriol coming from the extremists toward conservatives has a bearing on my own decision to run for office.
As an example, even after his colleagues were gunned down on a baseball field, Sen. Martin Heinrich is endorsing a candidate for state land commissioner who, when speaking about a group of peacefully protesting ranchers in Oregon, called them Taliban-style terrorists and advocated the federal government taking deadly force against them with no due process.
This is the same candidate who has taken to making false and defamatory statements against me in an effort to de-humanize me the way that he did those ranchers in Oregon. I hope that he and Sen. Heinrich will stop to consider the human cost of their overheated rhetoric.
Ultimately, I hope that commonsense and human decency will prevail, but in light of current events, a safe and peaceful existence is deteriorating for citizens and especially for conservative public officials.
That is why I promise to stand up for honest debate, and I challenge all of us as Americans to support candidates, elected officials and leaders in our community who stick to the truth, have honest discussions, and help return civility to our national civil discourse.