On March 22, former New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez gave a virtual presentation, “It’s a Different World Out There: Leadership in the States,” as the 34th recipient of the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics.
Martinez began her presentation by thanking the Catt Center for being invited to speak during the center’s 30th anniversary year.
She then shared the story of her own political journey from prosecutor to New Mexico governor and the challenges she faced while in the governor’s office, and explained that finding bipartisan solutions was how they achieved success.
“We had healthy debates, but at the end of the day, through advocacy, through compromise, through understanding where each other was coming from, we were able to pass laws that were beneficial to the people of this great state.”
She urged the listeners to be leaders in their community organizations, political offices or businesses and to reach across the aisle and see what can be accomplished.
During the question and answer session, Martinez was asked what advice she would give her colleagues in Washington, D.C., to move the country forward. In her answer, she stressed the importance of making data-driven decisions, creating relationships that lead to conversations and finding areas of agreement.
When asked about voting reforms, Martinez said, “That’s a big question, because there’s lots of reform discussion in a variety of ways.” Agreeing that voting should be made more accessible, she expressed support for the expansion of the number of days to allow voting, the hours that polls are open and the number of voting locations. She shared her concerns about the security of other practices such as sending ballots to every household where a registered voter is supposed to reside and ballot drop boxes.
Another listener asked how voters and leaders can counter the flood of false information seen in politics today. In her answer, Martinez said social media has made it too easy to share information that may or may not be true and that Americans need to do a better job of differentiating truth from fiction.
“It takes you five seconds to type something in and it’s not true, and then push it out and sometimes people believe when they read it – whether it be in social media or the newspaper or hear it on TV – it must be true. And I’m here to tell you that’s not true,” she said. Martinez added that one of the most important things we can do to counter false information is vote those who spread it out of office.
Martinez was also asked about the future of the Republican Party and how it can expand its voter base. She used her own switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party as an example of how she believes that the Republican Party welcomes conservatives from many backgrounds. She also said that both the Democratic and Republican parties should not take voters for granted.
“We are conservative people at times and liberal people at times, we are all colors and stripes, all of us can think different.”
Martinez’s lecture was sponsored by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, the Department of Political Science and the ISU Committee on Lectures. A recording of the lecture is available on the Lectures Program website for viewers with an Iowa State login.