Why the North has Declined

Cultural Northern New Mexico

Many people have asked me why I think Northern New Mexico hasn’t improved in decades and why we seem to be at a decline. The truth is there isn’t just one factor but the main ones are a lack of ideological diversity in politics and in power, a brain drain, and voter/citizen apathy.

There really has not been a real change in political ideologies in power for Norteños since the 60s/70s and the power structure has suffered for it. A lack of such diversity anywhere leads to a stagnation in ideas and lack of innovation. Because there’s no real ideology that can challenge existing power structures, there won’t be any change at the top which means change can only come from the bottom. While there have been small victories for new ideas in the North, there’s never been enough traction or someone influential enough to get those ideals to the majority in any place of power. Just like in many places where one faction has been in power for far too long this has lead to corruption and censorship. The lack of population growth has also lead to new ideas from different perspectives to be relegated to obscurity.

Brain drain is a problem for New Mexico at large but it’s especially more prevalent in the North. Over half of New Mexico college grads leave the state and never come back, with Norteños there simply isn’t enough opportunity to come back to. In order to live in the North comfortably you’ll have to work for the Lab, Schools, the State, or in Gaming. With the current political structure in the North being anti-business and regulations becoming even more strict it’s unlikely this aspect will be remedied soon. The other major issue is the fact that schools in the central and southern parts of the state have become more attractive to Norteños and has lead them to continue to live in the Metro areas of Albuquerque and Las Cruces with little or no desire to return home. This has resulted in a brain drain in leadership as well. Northern government is plagued with nepotism along with inexperienced and often unqualified people running things. This is no fault of their own though, as there simply isn’t enough people in the area to fill said positions that are qualified.

Finally, we get to voter and citizen apathy, the main cause for this is because the ideological make up of power has remained largely unchanged for almost half a century. Political opponents in the opposition party as well as the ruling party feel they cannot gain reasonable amounts of representation to affect change. This has lead to extremely low turnout elections. The job market has also decreased political activity, as government jobs make it taboo or against the employee’s own interest to be very actively involved in the political process. This inability to be involved has lead many families of means and influence to have their children attend different school districts or go to private school which makes them less invested in wanting to improve many of the institutions, especially in all likelihood their children will attend college elsewhere.

I do believe things are changing, this is obvious based on election results both statewide and locally over the past decade; but the pace is frustratingly slow and has been artificially slowed by the powers that be. Due to this slow pace I see the change coming to be born out of frustration and anger rather than evolution of ideas. Which could be good or bad, I only hope it comes in time to make a difference. I also hope more Norteños will get inspired to fix their home, the war on apathy must be the first one to win. I know many people may get frustrated with this article saying our major drug issues, poverty issues, and crime issues must be addressed before our political and corruption issues are. However the power structures that allow said issues to occur must be changed if we ever wish to tackle those issues.