The Dark Side of Susana Martinez’s Speech Needs an Explanation

It appears no one has asked Gov. Susana Martinez who she was referring to when she told the country “Despite what some would have us believe, success is not built on resentment and fear.” 

That is a ridiculous statement. No one would have us believe success is “built on resentment and fear.” The only reason to say something so strange is to stir resentment for slights that never existed. 

Martinez gave a good speech Wednesday night, with a rousing gun reference and some Spanish worked in. But she also threw jabs she should have to explain. 

Republicans have been trumpeting over the negative ads run against Mitt Romney by Obama supporters. “Divisive” is a word that keeps coming up. Marco Rubio said of Obama “We have not seen such a divisive figure in modern American history.” RNC chair Reince Preibus calls Obama “divisive, nasty, negative,” and Romney said “take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America.”

But who’s divisive really? Martinez had the line about success “not built on resentment and fear.” Then, late in her speech, she said “success is the American dream, and that success is not something to be ashamed of or demonize.” 

Is raising taxes on the wealthy what she’s talking about there? Someone should ask her. Words have power, particularly in politics, and these specific references to resentment and demonization are aimed at a phony caricature that doesn’t exist. 

That’s what’s “divisive” in America: constant assertions of an ongoing assault against success.  People get angry when they hear that, which is why Rush Limbaugh says this crap every day. But he’s not a state governor, and he isn’t surrounded by reporters. Martinez’s speech was good, but she should answer for its darker elements.

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