by Greg Palast
excerpted from Armed Madhouse
January 5, 2009
Bill Richardson is out: Caught with his hand, if not exactly in the cookie jar, at least you could say his sticky finger were near it. I'm not surprised.
For years I've been investigating the second-most corrupt state in the USA (after Alaska). I like to check in on the enchanted state with my bud Santiago Juárez.
I knew it was not a polite question, but it was really bugging me, so I asked HIM, “Exactly how does a Mexican get the name William Richardson?”
Governor Richardson’s dad, Santiago explained, was a Citibank executive assigned to Mexico City. There he met Governor Bill’s mom, and—milagro!—a Mexican-American was born. Richardson gets big mileage out of his mother’s heritage, and that makes him, legitimately, a Mexican-American, a politically useful designation. But it’s just as legitimate to say that Richardson is a Citibank-American.
But Governor Richardson is more than that. Between leaving Bill Clinton’s cabinet where he was Secretary of Energy and grabbing a Hispanic-district seat in Congress, Richardson became a partner in (Henry) Kissinger and Associates. That would make Richardson a Kissinger-American as well.
IN 2004, John Kerry won New Mexico—if you counted the votes. But they didn't - and George Bush won the state and the presidency by just 5,000 ballots.
Everyone was talking about the theft of Ohio by Republicans, but few noted that New Mexico was stolen as well. But one fact drove me straight nuts: In the end, this state and its damaged elections were in the hands of Richardson, A Democrat and a Mexican-American one at that.
In New Mexico the issue of uncounted votes is more than skin deep. Lots of Mexican-American votes don’t tally, but Citibank-American votes never get lost. Kissinger American votes always count. The story of America’s failed elections is not about undervotes. It’s about underclass. Disenfranchisement is class warfare by other means. It just happens that in New Mexico, the colors ofthe underclass are, for the most part, brown and red.
Class War by Other Means
As community organizer Santiago told me:
You take away people’s health insurance and you take their right to union pay scales and you take away their pensions—taking away their vote’s just one more on the list.
Some New Mexico Democrats have no trouble at the voting booth. In Santa Fe, you ﬁnd trust-fund refugees from Los Angeles wearing Navajo turquoise jewelry and “casual” clothes that cost more than my car. Each one has a personal healer, an unfinished film script and a tan so deep you’d think they’re bred for their leather. They’re Democrats and their votes count. Voting—or at least voting that gets tabulated—is a class privilege. The effect is racial and partisan, but the engine is economic.
The second- and third-highest undervotes in New Mexico were recorded in McKinley and Cibola counties—85% and 72% Hispanic and Native. But the undervote champ is nearly the whitest county in New Mexico: DeBaca, which mangled and lost 8.4% of ballots cast. White DeBaca, whose average income hovers at the national poverty level, is poorer than Hispanic Cibola. No question, disenfranchisement gives off an ugly racial smell, but income is the real predictor of vote loss.