I raise this question for a very specific reason. The hearings on the awful events of January 6th focus on the efforts by the then-President to overturn the legitimate results of the election. But the ramifications and implications go beyond that election or any election. They go to the larger question of governance. And the truth is, the record of the Trump administration and its approach to governance gave evidence every day of the clear and present danger we faced as a nation. January 6th started happening the day President Trump first took office. It just took four years to come to fruition.
Elections have consequences.
But governance doesn’t happen only on Election Day. It happens every day, day in and day out. It’s on display in public meetings, in decisions large and small, in appointments and in budgets, in the way the public’s work gets done and communicated.
When it comes to local government, our job as residents and voters, individually and collectively, is to be informed well before Election Day arrives and well after it passes. In this case, Thomas Jefferson got it right: “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.”
In my mind, education starts with involvement, engagement, and interaction. Yes, it’s my job and the job of every other local elected official to listen to you—to all the people of Santa Fe. It’s my job and the job of every other elected official to be available, accessible, and accountable.
At the same time, as we’re witnessing on the national stage, it’s the job of every resident to become educated—not only as to how each jurisdiction works, but also how the different elected officials work. Democracy is a two-way street.
So please, heed the warning call that is coming from the January 6th Congressional hearings. More than ever, as our democracy is threatened from within in unprecedented and unparalleled ways, it falls to each of us to become more invested, more involved, more engaged, more knowledgeable, and more educated on local government. Protecting our democracy starts right here, at home.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of democracy.”
It’s not too high a price to pay. What is unacceptable is not paying that price.