You are interviewing someone for a job and their approach is “Hey, anyone can do this. You don’t have to be very smart to do this job”. Will you hire them? You’re a knucklehead if you do. They have already decided that the work takes no effort and isn’t really important. They will only waste your time, effort, and money.
Yet, over the last 20 years, Oklahoma voters have “hired” people with similar attitudes to fill public office. Should we even be surprised that they are wasting our time, effort, and money?
The Source of the Problem
Is it even possible for them to do a good job at running our state’s government when the core of their campaign was that “government is incompetent and won’t ever do anything right”? It’s not. Before their first day in office they are on a course of incompetence.
If they make government better or just simply work, they have proven themselves wrong. And just in case you don’t know much about politics, they don’t want to do that. Ever.
It starts with those in Oklahoma who vote. We have been campaigned into believing that the best person for us to “hire” at the polls is the one who knows the least, has the least experience at running anything, and promises to do the worst job that they can think of. Ridiculous.
Now if you are in charge of a large corporation that does not want any government policing of what you do, that’s a good deal. You will give big money to those candidates. That’s exactly what has happened over the years in Oklahoma. It has a multiplying effect in that once those incompetents get into office, your lobbyists can do all of their thinking for them, because…that’s right...they don’t know anything.
So, those politicians do what they are told. They better. There are no other options for them.
Cases in Point
The latest news is that State Superintendent of Schools Janet Barresi is making plans to use money budgeted for activities and alternative education to pay for health care premiums promised to teachers because of funding that has not been provided by the legislature. Here’s today’s news brief about it from NewsOK.com.
Rather than do what a Superintendent elected directly by The People should do –confront the legislature– she is going along with the general incompetence of the Republican dominated legislature because the handlers who control all of them want, you know, “team players”.
Why can’t Janet Barresi run the State Department of Education like we elected her to do? She is a dentist and doesn’t know the first thing about running a classroom for a whole year, much less the entire public school effort for the state. And so, she has to follow orders of bigger corporate interests when they call. She has hired itinerant corporate education tools from out-of-state to fill top jobs just below hers because that’s what she is expected to do by those who paid big money to get her into office. She’s on the team.
Why can’t Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt do anything else but bring frivolous law suits against the Affordable Care Act at taxpayers’ expense of millions and not do much of anything else? He’s on the team.
Why can’t Gov. Fallin and the legislature stay out of the way and allow local towns and cities to set their own minimum wage if they won’t set one for the state? Why can’t they allow cities to run their own zoning ordinances? Well, even though they ran to keep big government off our backs, they create their own big government that controls us in ways that the rich and big corporate interests want us to be controlled. They are on the team.
Too Much Consolidation of Power
What early 1900s Progressives knew from experience in the century before was that The People have to keep big money from controlling every aspect of state government.
Bad government happens when it is possible for a few rich people to pay for a majority of legislative campaigns and the governor who installs lackeys throughout the executive branch. They, then, follow the orders of only a few rich people instead of The People. So, the Oklahoma Constitution calls for a large number of leaders in the executive branch to be voted on directly by The People rather than being appointed by the governor.
The problem circles back around to who votes and who we decide to vote into office. It’s people who run any government. If government isn’t working, replace those who are in charge of it.
But, those who actually vote in Oklahoma have believed the well-funded campaign line that government is the problem, and so we vote for people who don’t know anything. They then have no choice but to leave or follow orders from the lobbyists and handlers. In actual effect, we have a scenario that the writers of the Oklahoma Constitution thought they were avoiding.
The Key: More Informed, Motivated Voters Who Vote
For those of us who want reform it is a good thing that Oklahoma has put so much into making sure that voters can vote and the voting system has integrity. After all, if they believe that only certain Republicans will vote anyway, why not make it easy for them? What that really means is that we can bring change if we provide credible opposition and sound arguments. The key is getting out the vote.
It comes back around to us. How badly do we want to see change? I want it and if you are reading this, you probably want it, too. That’s why the June 24th primaries, the August 26th run-offs, and the November 4th election all matter. Put those on your calendar now and focus!