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The Right and Wrong Reasons

I support the death penalty. Yesterday, the New Mexico House of Representatives voted to repeal the death penalty. I don’t hold it against those who voted for the repeal because I believe that this is one issue on which the individual must vote based on personal values.

With that said, I find the excerpt below to be an interesting illustration of the difference between Democratic and Republican values when it comes making an important decision:

Chasey said she hopes to persuade Richardson that opposing the death penalty would enhance his international stature. She also said signing a repeal bill could “distinguish” him in the Democratic primary. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics made a similar statement in a recent interview.

During the hourlong House floor debate, Republican Whip Dan Foley of Roswell pointed out that since 1960, New Mexico has executed only one person — child rapist and killer Terry Clark of Artesia. Clark was lethally injected in November 2001 for the murder of 9-year-old Dena Lynn Gore of Artesia.

“The system in New Mexico is working,” Foley said. “We have been very cautious, very careful.”

Republican Representative Foley is clearly and thoughtfully evaluating the merits of continuing the death penalty on the performance of the system to date. By contrast, Democratic Representative Chasey is making the argument that Governor Bill Richardson should abandon his stated values, he is on record as supporting the death penalty, for political gain.

There are many good reasons to support or oppose the death penalty; however, neither “enhancing international status” nor “distinguishing oneself in the Democratic primary” qualify as good reasons. The fact that Representative Chasey would put these forth as motivating factors for the Governor says one of two things:

1) Representative Chasey believes political gain trumps personal values when it comes to making a decision.


2) Representative Chasey thinks that the easiest way to persuade Governor Richardson to abandon his values is to demonstrate political gain.

Either way, it’s pretty sad.