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From the bottom up

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By Hal Rhodes

This just in: According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, New Mexico ranks 50th among the states when it comes to residents’ access to emergency room service.
The problem many New Mexicans have in digesting news of this sort is that it is just more of the same. In virtually every category some outfit comes up with for purposes of ranking the states — income, jobs and job opportunities, literacy, child well-being and safety, roads and infrastructure, you name it — New Mexico is always at or near the blasted bottom.
New Mexicans are no longer shocked by such news. About all they can do when another batch of dismal rankings comes out these days is yawn when they should up in arms.
Mad as Hell and not going to take it anymore! Mounting the barricades, waving placards angrily proclaiming “There’s nothing beneath the bottom and we’re falling through.”
We must demand better from our state officials, particularly in the final weeks of a gubernatorial campaign.
By rights the candidates should be outlining precisely how they intend to turn around the sad state of affairs that recently prompted Dan Lopez, the president of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, to lament the fact that fully 70 percent of the best and brightest who graduate from his institution are forced to go elsewhere for career opportunities because there are far too few of them here at home.
Yet, if you want to know what one of the two candidates has to say about such matters you virtually have to follow him from town to town on the campaign trail because, as his campaign finance reports made clear last week, Gary King has the funds sufficient to purchase only occasional radio and TV ads, and then briefly.
The other candidate, meanwhile, has millions of dollars on hand, but Susana Martinez seems determined to spend them generously on dark and grainy negative TV ads eviscerating her under-funded opponent for a litany of political sins, real or imagined.
And when she does spend some of her vast campaign kitty on “positive” advertisements they’re apt to show her reading to small children, about the same age as that pitiful youngster who was allegedly kicked to death by his mother after the state agency charged with safeguarding kids failed to do its duty.
The uninitiated might be led to suppose that somehow New Mexico ranks at the very top among states where child welfare and safety are involved when, in fact, the reverse is the unfortunate reality.
Nor is it fair to lay blame solely — or even principally — at the doorstep of the politicos who conjure up the fictions and fantasies their cunning campaign advertisements are designed to foster.
Truth be told, politicians are among the most responsive people in a democratic polity. Which is not to say they are always the most responsible? But the best of them do strive to be responsive, sensitive to the even the slightest tremors of a shifting public opinion.
When Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced that his electric car company had chosen Nevada to produce its high-powered batteries, there was some grumbling and finger-pointing among certain pols in New Mexico, which was reportedly in the running for that honor. But down at the grassroots most New Mexicans knew in their heart that the state never really had a prayer.
And despite her expressions of disappointment, the governor felt no heat and scant pressure for her administration’s limp dalliance in the high-stakes world of recruiting new jobs and businesses to the state.
In New Mexico the road to the top obviously requires an unrelenting push from the bottom.