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An Open Letter to Taos County Patriots:

An Open Letter to Taos County Patriots:

My earliest political memory is still vivid. It was 1988, so I was nine. Reagan was president, and I was already a proud Republican (though after Reagan that pride would often wane). I, the daughter of a preacher and the granddaughter of a newspaperman, had invited my best friend over for a sleepover. She was the daughter of a lawyer. Somehow those facts seem relevant to the story. The memory I recall often is of two scrawny kids sprawled out on an unfolded sleeper sofa gazing up at a glass-front TV. We had straws in our hands and bits of torn paper surrounded us. Two men were featured on the screen. One of them received our full devotion, the other a veritable onslaught of spitballs to the face. Looking back, perhaps both men should have taken a splattering. It was, of course, a Bush versus Dukakis debate.

Though I’ve loved politics from infancy, I never imagined being involved in it in even the smallest of ways. My job was to vote always, to speak boldly (in one-on-one conversation), and to write honestly. It’s the same job I’ve had in my spiritual life though I don’t get a vote with God. And that’s what I’ve done for my entire adult life. In fact, this was supposed to be my year to throw myself back into writing (about politics, specifically) and finish the book I’ve been researching since 2019. All of that began to change just before the 2022 election when I decided that Ronchetti would be a dream compared to MLG and that I needed to do something, anything, more than vote and continue to preach to the choir. I was surprised to find a small Republican headquarters in Taos, and I tracked down the people in charge (aka Sadie Boyer and company). They were happy to put me to work, and after setting up a few Ronchetti campaign signs I worked election day in Taos as a poll challenger. I worked alongside two lovely Democrat challengers, one in the morning and another later in the day. I don’t mean that facetiously. They were both kind to me. We chatted amiably as we observed the crowd. One of them noted how surprising it was that we were getting along so well. She mentioned that things would likely be different if we addressed the elephant in the room. I laughed to myself that I hadn’t seen many elephants but had seen my share of jackasses that day. Things between us soured a bit when toward the end of the day she was downright disrespectful to two Taos police officers who had come inside as the result of a disturbance. She included me in her anger as she videoed the men. “We are challengers, and you’re not allowed to be here. It’s voter intimidation,” she said in her best incensed church lady voice. I did ask her politely how police were intimidating voters simply by existing. She thought for a moment before responding, “Well, if someone had an outstanding warrant they might be afraid to come inside.”

I came away from my conversations with Democrats on election day with the knowledge that the Democrat Party is organized and mobilized in Taos. They don’t simply exist organically in large numbers; their base is being actively built and maintained.

I came away from my conversations with Democrats on election day with the knowledge that the Democrat Party is organized and mobilized in Taos. They don’t simply exist organically in large numbers; their base is being actively built and maintained. In 2022 they had enough volunteers to fill two or three poll challenger shifts at every major polling place while we only had enough to cover the very busiest locations. And they had been registering people to vote “like crazy” in the weeks preceding the election (often using the UPS Store as the registrant’s address). There are thousands of them, and there are (fewer, but still) thousands of us. We could and can be the army that they are. 

Angry, inspired, sad, discouraged, I again called Sadie and asked her what more I could do. It was only a month or so before she said she’d like to see me run for chair (which simply meant “volunteer” since no one else wanted the position). I laughed because, frankly, me as chair of anything was and still is a ridiculous idea. I’m not trained for this. I didn’t go to school for this. I definitely don’t have the time or the resources for this. But here I am, for the next two years, and I’m going to give it my all. Just four months into the job and it’s easy to see how discouragement could set in. It feels like I’m preaching over and over again to the same ten people who still have a little fight left in them. We’re always on the verge of broke, and we’re only not because we’ve been funding it ourselves. I’ve sent about 500 texts just so far this week, and I haven’t received many responses. Well, I have been thoroughly cursed out several times, but I’m not counting those. To those of you who have responded, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. 

My question to all of you going forward is this: am I wasting my valuable time? No, I’m not asking if you think Taos County or even New Mexico is flippable. The fact is it’s only winnable if enough of you decide to fight. It’s wholly unwinnable if you don’t. And to answer your question: yes. I absolutely believe in fraud and ballot harvesting. I choose to remember 2016 and believe that a truly energized base can outvote even a well-laid plan. 

Taos County is small enough to make your voice big (YUGE) and you have even more swaying power in your precincts than you do in the county as a whole. To those of you who love this country but are tired and drained of hope, let me appeal to that spark, that instinct that still calls you to rage, rage against the dying of the light: Are we going to die fighting, or are we going to just die? If we lie down, death is inevitable. If we fight, we just might win. 

Stop being so doggone embarrassed to be a Republican.

What can you do to fight? First of all, stop being so doggone embarrassed to be a Republican (or just a non-Democrat). What on Earth are you ashamed of? It isn’t your party that voted almost unanimously to allow minors more access to abortion and transgender drugs/surgeries without consent, or to allow felons to vote immediately upon release, or to “fix” our elections by passing a 178-page bill… Nope. Your party voted almost unanimously against those things. So slap that bumper sticker on your car and wear your political clothes. Own it! The lack of pride is demoralizing to your fellow Republicans.

Use the tools we’re putting out to persuade your persuadable friends.

Use the tools we’re putting out to persuade your persuadable friends. Speak at your churches, or ask if they’ll let me speak. There are so many amazing people in our county who are generationally attached to the Democrat label but are (or would be if they knew) repulsed by progressive policies. Talk to them. Use the printables at the bottom of this letter as the tracts you need to politically evangelize your neighbors. 

We have an immediate need for donations of money and time.

We have an immediate need for donations of money and time. Some of you have a little money but your time is rare and precious. For others, it’s the opposite. A few of you can give both. We need bakers to provide goodies for the upcoming dessert auction. We need people to join the Facebook groups for their precinct and get to work inviting their neighbors. We need people to host precinct parties. We need people to dial their way through the voter rolls for their precinct to update the contact information. We need people to run for local offices. WE NEED PEOPLE TO SIGN/COLLECT SIGNATURES FOR REFERENDUMS. Soon, we’ll need door knockers and more. It’s not too early to start planning for election day. Who will you be calling to make sure they’re informed about the issues (after making sure you are informed)? Who will you be picking up and driving to the polls? It’s a numbers game, ultimately, and an excited base grows faster than a depressed one. 

What small thing will you sacrifice now to put a stop to the sacrifice of freedom?

May the Lord Bless You and Keep You Always,

Sarah Valente

Chairwoman, RPTC

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