The roadrunner is back, though I’ll have to make this post quick. It’s not the coyote today, but rather that old guy in the Chrysler LeBaron with the Goldwater ‘64 bumper sticker still affixed to it. He is inexplicably taking shots at me from a wide spot in McLaws Road West of Holbrook. I think the poor guy is losing his vision and believes I’m a skinny wild turkey instead of a roadrunner? Though since he apparently voted for Goldwater over LBJ in 64, it's an open question as to whether or not he had already lost clear vision 60 years ago. Anyway, he’s not a good shot so I should be able to get this post out, and hopefully he’ll give up the hunt and find a Thanksgiving turkey at Safeway if they’re still open.
On a more serious note, with all the COVID fatigue out there, and the desire to move on with our lives, there is a tendency to forget the heroes and heroines who led during the height of the pandemic. One of those heroes who should be recognized is Jonathan Nez who served as President of the Navajo Nation during the peak of the pandemic and made the tough choices true leaders face and are forced to make.
Some people may remember that in the spring of 2020 the Navajo Nation was the hardest hit part of the United States, far exceeding the infection and death rates of New York which was making international news at the time for its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, President Nez implemented stringent emergency measures including Nationwide curfews and mask mandates. These measures were controversial but saved lives.
When the vaccine became available in early 2021, President Nez fought vigorously to get resources to his people, and to get them vaccinated. Studies have clearly demonstrated that death rates from COVID-19 are 4 to 6 times greater with unvaccinated than vaccinated individuals, so getting community members vaccinated literally saved thousands of lives in 2021 and 2022 that might otherwise have perished.
On the map shown above (from October 2022), the largest swath of land that is dark green is the Navajo Nation counties on the Arizona-New Mexico border. In the Northeast corner of Arizona, Apache County, one of the poorest counties in the country, had a vaccination rate of 95% thanks to Nez’s leadership in getting federal resources and in messaging to the Navajo people the need to get vaccinated. McKinley County in New Mexico also had vaccination rates above 95%. The other Navajo Nation counties all had above 80% rates (with higher rates on the reservation than in non-tribal towns adjacent to them).
While the Navajo Nation counties had the higher COVID death and infection rates in 2020, after the vaccines were available in 2021, the most lethal impacts of the Delta wave of COVID were not felt on Navajo, but instead on neighboring “red counties” where vaccine rates were lower. While vaccination rates were 95% in Apache County for example, rates in nearby Arizona counties: Mohave (45%), Greenlee (46%) Yavapai (52%) and Kane County, Utah (53%) were much lower and Delta made a big mark in some of those mostly non-tribal counties, while Nez’s actions in getting his people vaccinated saved thousands of lives on the Nation.
Crises give people an opportunity to see who is willing to take bold action to lead and who simply is there to complain and incapable of leading. Jonathan Nez is currently running for Congress against incumbent Congressman Eli Crane. While Nez has shown strong leadership to unify people and save lives, Crane’s claim to fame (or infamy as it were) is to be one of the Crazy 8 to join Matt Gaetz’s stunt to vacate Speaker McCarthy as speaker and spiral the US House into chaos. In case it isn’t obvious yet, Crane is more a “complain about what is wrong than figure out what is right” type.
Case in point...Rep. Crane, along with Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert, is one of the three members of the House, to lead the charge to impeach Joe Biden, while perpetually professing his “man crush” on Donald J Trump despite his 91 felony charges. Crane’s biggest move at “leading” was to choose a House Speaker, Mike Johnson who wants to use the government to “restrain evil” and ban contraception because he thinks humans are “inherently evil” (Roadrunner disagrees with his assessment of human nature, but if Johnson is right, wouldn’t that actually be a reason FOR contraception?). If that isn’t creepy enough, Speaker Johnson also has his 17-year-old son serve as his “porn police” intake monitor to protect him from temptation. This is the man Congressman Crane sees as his leader (well 2nd to Trump of course).
The choice in the AZ-2 Congressional Race couldn’t be starker. The incumbent Congressman is a disrupter and divider who spends his days on right wing podcasts trying to impress his MAGA man crush Donald Trump, while Jonathan Nez is a proven leader who made tough decisions and saved lives in the peak of a pandemic and will continue to unify rather than play to the politics of drama and discord.
If you’d like to help put a leader in the AZ-2 seat and retire a MAGA Congressman in a single digit Trump district, you can donate at the link here:
Thank you. The residents of Arizona’s 2nd congressional District are very thankful for your consideration.
Happy Thanksgiving, and if you’re tired of debating your MAGA-uncle over mashed potatoes and have had enough football for one day, chip in a little gratitude to President Nez for serving the Navajo Nation and his willingness to step up to serve in the United States Congress.