The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now

America: Two Steps Forward. Oklahoma: Four Steps Backward
November 9, 2008, 7:19 am
Filed under: Oklahoma, Politics

First of all, congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama, who stayed on the high road in his campaign and, to his credit, kept cool and engaged with Americans in discourse about real and pressing issues facing this nation while his opponents (and even more so, some of their fans, despite John McCain’s best efforts to abate the hate) were diverted from discourse about the issues by the usual fear mongering, attack tactics and other sideshows that have become the norm of a GOP that, as I wrote last week, has become hopelessly hijacked by cultural wedge-issue pushing extremists.

But as the nation as a whole took two giant steps forward in finding a starting place in the healing of a nation brought virtually to its knees by eight years of George Walker Bush (or, as my landlady called him, Dick Cheney’s wind-up toy), Oklahoma took several steps backwards.

It is what it is. Oklahoma has reaffirmed, with exclamation points, that it’s the reddest of the red states, returning virtually all of its Republican delegation (save lone Democrat Dan Boren, although he’s kind of a D.I.N.O.) to Washington AND, as a bonus, taking control of the State Legislature as well.

Now think about that when Oklahoma’s Democratic governor, Brad Henry, HAS to leave office in 2010 because of term limits. What then? For anyone left — or even center — of the spectrum, this has to be scary. Henry is what he is (a moderate, and some might even say a D.I.N.O.), but he must be commended for his leadership, particularly in educational issues. He is also to be commended for his spirit of fostering cooperation between both parties, and the willingness to call out extremism for what it is (particularly when responding to Sally Kern’s anti-gay tirade that landed on YouTube). When he leaves, it will actually suck.

Although its hard to tell from the national pundits, bloggers (at least ones better regarded and more seriously taken than the tiny sliver of real estate I’m taking up on the Infobahn) and TV talking heads, there ARE Blue people in Oklahoma.

And we came out and cast our votes for Obama — and Andrew Rice, and and Ron Marlett, and other candidates in other races around the state, hoping to unseat individuals who have brought unwanted attention and shame to our state with their backwards ideas and, in a case or two, sheer unacceptable hatred. (We voted for Jim Roth too, who was running to keep his place on the state Corporation Commission. He’s another young, smart guy who should be exemplary of Oklahoma’s future).

Marlett (not a young man but a smart man) was unsuccessful in his bid to turn Rep. Sally Kern back into just another meddlesome, helmet-haired preacher’s wife. Andrew Rice — who is poised to have a great future in Oklahoma politics — ran a clean, honest, even-handed campaign to send senior US Senator Jim Inhofe into retirement. Inhofe, on the other hand, was snide and condescending to Rice, and easily won re-election simply because he scared people into voting for him because Rice, for lack of a better way to put it (and, intentionally or not, following the lead of what the McCain/Palin ticket had devolved into towards the final months of the campaign) was not like Oklahomans.

“Not like Oklahomans”? What are Oklahomans like, anyway? Does anybody know this without resorting to the usual stereotypes associated with Oklahomans? We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds, religion or none, liberal and conservative, urban and rural, gay and straight. Who has the right to define for the rest of America what an Oklahoman is? I hope not the likes of Inhofe or Kern, and I hope not the likes of the state’s newspaper of record, The Oklahoman. Oh, sure, it’s recent graphic makeover is sort of nice, but it’s still akin to putting lipstick on a pig.

So thanks to the politics of fear — or at the very least a lack of a dissenting powerful voice to counter that of The Oklahoman, which really does not represent the views of ALL Oklahomans — we’ve probably ensured that Oklahoma’s brain drain will continue unabated for several more years to come, and that Oklahoma will continue to be the object of shame and ridicule when someone comes out with inflammatory or controversial remarks about People Who Aren’t Like Themselves (read: gays, liberals, non-whites, divorcees, non-Christians, people with adequate dental hygiene … whoever).

Why does it have to be this way, that progressive Oklahomans always stuck with playing defense? But rest assured, we’ll always be looking for that fumble or that botched pass and run it in for a TD or a vicious dunk. It’s bound to happen in the near future. In fact I’m pretty sure it will.

Maybe we need a new coach? Where’s our Bob Stoops or Jeff Capel to maybe teach us a new and better way to play what’s become a more challenging game?

More reading here:

What’s the Matter With Oklahoma? (diary by droogie at Daily Kos)

Oklahoma Red for Shame (Peace Arena)

1 Comment so far
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Thanks for the shout out. I’ll add your blog to my Oklahoma netroots roll at

Comment by Re

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