Well, well. My native state of Oklahoma has been in the news a lot lately. It seems that people around the country find us entertaining at best, and at worst, dangerous.
We are both.
In an earlier post last year I made the case that Oklahoma belongs to all of us, and not just the extremely rich, powerful few who seem to always be the ones pulling the strings with our governor and legislature lately.
But Oklahoma has plenty of room for liberals as well as moderates who are called “liberals” by the Crazy Right.
Because well-funded think tanks and politicians have turned the word “liberal” into sort of a cuss word here, many people try to keep their liberal beliefs on the down low by saying things like, “I’m really conservative about a lot of things.”
So am I. So are most of us.
The issue is this: Do you believe that there is room for everyone in this state culturally and politically? If you do, you fit the Crazy Right’s definition of “liberal”. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not.
So go with it.
I actually tell people that I’m liberal. Out loud. Right here in Oklahoma. Sometimes they look stunned. They don’t really know what to say.
You used to get that response if you openly said that you were gay. But, even most conservatives have a polite response to that one worked out by now. But, liberal? Uhhhhhhh…Hey! Did you go to that last Thunder game?
The Crazy Right want to keep the state on lock-down because that’s what radical conservatism does anywhere. It’s focused on exclusion and exclusivity.
That’s why in Oklahoma the exclusive richest 1% are so often allies with the looniest 20% of our state.
If they can get those few who vote to just focus on hating Muslims, Obama, gays, “government schools”, and 100 other things, then their stooges in the Legislature can slip through another tax credit for them, lock down democracy even more, and gain even more control of a state government that, at least by its Constitution, is very accessible to the people.
Things are changing, though. It’s interesting to see how some political liberals and even moderate conservatives have had enough.
I’m hearing more liberals and moderates saying that voting participation is an issue. Even Republican legislators are proposing ways to make voting easier.
Last year several bills that would have started the dismantling of public schools were stopped even with the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Governor fighting hard to get them.
This year the author of the famous anti-AP U.S. History bill started back-peddling as soon as it became an embarrassment to the ruling Republicans in the state who have championed “rigor” in education.
Just this week, more of the state’s newspapers have taken a stand in their opinion pages against bills that would simply turn over tax money to individual parents to spend on private schools without there being an income cap or without those private schools accounting for the tax money that they spend.
More and more people are starting to step up into this game and insist that this state belongs to more than the rich 1% in league with the Crazy, Radical Right 20%.
And that’s what it will take. There is room for liberals and moderates here. The issue is whether we will step up and take our place in state politics.