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Home, Sweet Home

He tried to explain away his state’s low rankings on high-school dropout rates, poverty, and crime during his tenure, his bold statements as energy secretary that turned out not to be true, his 72-hour change of mind on the immigration bill, his stance on guns, the stock he once owned in an oil company, his brief support of Alberto Gonzales, his résumé padding on his baseball career, and the story he tells on the stump about a dead soldier whose mother has asked him to stop telling it. ~John Dickerson

In spite of my past claims that I thought Richardson was going to be the surprise dark horse candidate of the Democratic field, I initially ridiculed his presidential campaign because I knew perfectly well what all of his “experience” and his “record” amounted to.  His time at the U.N. was useless, his tenure at Energy was a disaster and his time in Congress, when he wasn’t jet-setting to various “crisis” situations, was entirely unremarkable.  At the same time, Richardson can hardly be blamed very much for New Mexico’s low rankings “on high-school dropout rates, poverty, and crime,” since New Mexico always ranks low (or high, depending on how we’re listing the states) in these things.  I love my home state, but I have no illusions about the condition of my state. 

This condition might have something to do with the fact that New Mexico has effectively been a one-party state for over seventy-five years, at least as far as the legislature is concerned, and it has a political culture of corruption and favouritism that seems mild only because it has to compete with Illinois and Louisiana.  As New Mexico governors go, Richardson has been better than some, which is hardly a good reason for him to become President.  Even so, a little perspective is required.  New Mexico is not Iowa, and it is never going to produce the results that Iowa produces, because the culture (or cultures, as the multicultis insist on reminding us) there is quite different and cultivates a very different mentality.  The huge impact of the federal government on the New Mexican economy means that most people in the state will be inclined to embrace a politics of state dependency and state activism.  This invariably has an overall negative effect on the politics and government of the state.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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