Plutocracy for New Mexico
Tricks of the Trade
By Damian Garde
Disclaimer: What follows is satire. It bears no resemblance to reality.
The sun is shining, and the streets of Santa Fe are heavy with the smell of freshly smarmed lobbyists. Practitioners of the world’s oldest profession are dusting off their sequined handbags, and even John Arthur Smith is smiling.
It must be time for another legislative session!
This year, there’s a bright-eyed crop of new legislators, and they may well be confused by the elliptical nature of the Roundhouse. Well, say no more, you Mr. and Mrs. Smiths. Here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to surviving your freshman year at the most powerful frat house in the Rio Grande Valley.
Don’t Be Offended When Ben Luján Forgets Your Name
He does it to everyone. Some say it’s senility. Some say it’s hubris. Most agree it’s a crippling combination of the two that has reduced him to a stammering clump of bitter resentment. He’s kind of like Andy Rooney, but with less warmth and relevance. If he decides you’re a Sally, well, warm up to it Sally. It could be worse: He called Steve Komadina “Butternuts” for seven years.
Also, he shows up in a bathrobe on Thursdays. You get used to it.
Don’t Show Up Sober to the Legislative Finance Committee
God knows you’ll be the only one. Legend has it the Spaceport contract was the product of a mescal marathon that would make Lee Van Cleef blush. Opinions vary on the perfect way to get tanked before blowing public money. Northern New Mexicans prefer whiskey, and our Southern legislators, of course, have a taste for tequila. There’s just one rule: Home-brewed blends are forbidden ever since Tom Bolack brought a jug of “White Jesus” and rendered everybody deaf for half an hour.
Don’t Be Afraid to Sell Out
Capital outlay is your friend. Getting unelected is not your friend. So, let’s say Gov. Susana Martinez mentions that if you vote for her bill to force babies to read Ayn Rand, she won’t line-item veto that new jungle gym at the methadone clinic. Do the right thing, young lawmaker. The voters back home care less about your eternal soul and more about shiny stuff named for dead people.
I’m sure your morals are worth the world to you, but Rio Chama waitresses don’t go home with ex-legislators. Just saying.
Keep Your Head Down
Your colleagues aren’t your friends. Yes, it’s important to be nice, but as anyone who’s been cornered by Al Park and his Civil War stamp collection can tell you, camaraderie is overrated. At the same time, don’t be fooled into thinking everyone’s looking to get along. Janice Arnold-Jones takes eye contact as a sign of enmity, and she’s by no means above putting you in a headlock. Just keep your eyes low and tell her you think her bangs look especially menacing this morning. You don’t want a black eye in your official photo.
Oh, and don’t let John Sanchez talk you into checking out his favorite pen. The lady gets naked when you write with it. It’s not that exciting.
Being a lawmaker is tough. There are cliques, gangs, and the ever-present pressure to experiment with drugs and try group sex. It’s like “My So-Called Life,” except everyone has ear hair. But if you follow these simple rules, I guarantee you’ll be on your way to guilt-free embezzlement and cronyism in no time.
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