Posted September 8, 2010
"Welcome fellow patriots," one speaker shouted as he moved toward the podium during the Rally for Jobs in Farmington, N.M., today. He was greeted by a loud burst of applause from the estimated 600 people who crowded into the McGee Convention Center. From the outset, it was apparent that the rally attendees were fired up about federal and state policies that threaten jobs and could raise energy costs during the worst recession since The Great Depression. Many offered tales of woe about friends and neighbors who've lost their jobs, haven't been able to sell their houses and who are facing the worst financial times of their lives.
"I've never seen anything like it," one senior told me as he signed an open letter to New Mexico's members of Congress. The letter, which was posted on a large board read:
"My job matters and my voice counts. We need policies that protect our economy, not tax increases that destroy American jobs and decrease America's energy security. Vote for jobs, not taxes!"
Another rally participant, who said he has worked in the energy industry for more than 30 years, wondered whether most Americans understand that higher energy taxes hurt more than just energy companies. "They affect you, me and all American consumers," he said shaking his head.
He and many more New Mexico residents have a strong interest in energy jobs. The oil and natural gas industry supports about 90,000 state jobs and accounts for more than 12 percent of the state's economy.
Marita Noon of CARE, who served as the emcee of the rally, reminded the crowd of the importance of the oil and natural gas industry to N.M. and added that public officials who don't appreciate the industry "don't deserve our vote." Her comment elicited a loud cheer.
Ray Benson, a Grammy-award winning country-music performer, closed out today's rally with music for the working man. He performed "Working Man Blues" while standing in front of a huge American flag and facing a sea of red T-shirts worn by the rally participants. The shirts were emblazoned with the words "We are Energy Nation."
A similar Rally for Jobs also was held in Joliet, Illinois, today, where nearly 1,000 people attended. The next--and final--stop on the rally tour is Grand Junction, Colo. on Friday.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.