Thursday, November 4, 2010

GOVERNING FROM THE CENTER

by Steve Fair

In an opinion/editorial in the November 4th edition of The Oklahoman entitled ‘Setting agenda next step for empowered GOP’, the paper urges Governor elect Mary Fallin and the rest of the GOP statewide slate elected on Tuesday to proceed with caution. They want the new statewide elected officials to stick to a ‘bipartisan, pragmatic script’ like the late Governor Henry Bellmon used to govern. There are a number of reasons why the paper is once again wrong.

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First and foremost, the paper is not giving the voters of Oklahoma credit for knowing what they did on Tuesday. Oklahoma voters loudly proclaimed they wanted a more conservative, responsible approach to governing. They want ‘radical’ change. They don’t want business as usual. If these statewide and legislative elected officials heed the paper’s admonition, abandon their campaign promises and govern from ‘the center’, they will face the wrath of the ballot box in two years.

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This ‘centrist’ governing The Oklahoman advocates the newly elected officials embrace has gotten Oklahoma to #47 in per capita income and #13 in tax burden nationally. It has resulted in political corruption, payoffs, kick-backs, ghost employees, election stealing, and who knows what else. Staying in the middle has resulted in Oklahoma having more state employees per capita than any state in the country. It has resulted in Oklahoma having more school districts per capita than any state in the union. It has gotten us crumbling infrastructure because we divert federal highway dollars for other uses. It has gotten us more gambling outlets and slot machines per capita than any place in the world. Oklahoma is unhealthy, poor, leads the nation in abused children, mental health issues and at the bottom in most economic categories.

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Oklahoma still has high workers comp rates vs. surrounding states because we still have lawyers in the system(one of only two states that doesn't use an adminstrative system to settle disputes). We still use abstractors to exchange real property(one of only two states). Every 'R' in the legislature knows those two examples hurt taxpayers, property owners, businesses and injured workers, but each session they 'nibble around the edges' with legislation that is 'middle of the road.' As the newly elected REPUBLICAN leaders of the legislature and the Governor begin to establish their 'agenda,' they should have these important issuese at the TOP of the list.

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Governing from the center doesn’t require any creativity, risk taking or innovation. It only requires someone who ‘goes along to get along.’ That’s not what Oklahoma voters want. They want radical change!

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A little known fact is that state government has GROWN since Republicans took control of the State House in 2004. That is disappointing. That means the GOP has taken-albeit a more conservative approach to governing- a ‘centrist’ position in budgeting. Last session, in a down economic time, the legislature failed to make some difficult decisions and made 'across the board' cuts at state agencies. Oklahomans are sick of MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. They want risk takers in office- people who think outside the box and will challenge the status quo. They don’t want the same government they had under Henry Bellmon. In Henry Bellmon's first term(1963-1967), Gene Stipe reigned as the King of Pork and state government doubled in size. Oklahomans want better government than when Bellmon was Governor in 1963!

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Second, John Doak and Gary Jones won their respective races on Tuesday by working hard and getting their message to the voters. The paper implies the voters didn’t really know they were ousting ‘two good Democratic incumbents, State Auditor Steve Burrage and Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland.’ According to the paper, the two innocent ‘D’s ‘were rolled over by the wave.’ Those stupid, ignorant voters! Give me a break! Holland just recently became a ‘conservative’ Democrat. In 2008, she was an Obama delegate to the Democrat National Convention. And Burrage was Gene Stipe’s banker and a partisan Democrat, donating the maximum to John Edward’s failed Presidential campaign.

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Doak and Jones were both outspent by their opponents (Jones by 9 to1) and their opponents were endorsed by The Oklahoman (in multiple editorials), but in spite of that, THEY STILL WON! To imply that over one half million Oklahoma voters were just marking R on those two races because they were mad at Obama or unaware of who was running is disrespectful, condescending and out of touch with the Oklahoma electorate. This accounts for why newspapers across the country are dying- they are out of touch with their readers and advertisers. They lack creditability! Large daily newspapers across the country are producing an inferior product and at some point, their customer base will abandon them for news sources that are in tune with reality. What happened to The Oklahoman? They used to be a conservative newspaper and their editorial page reflected the views of average Oklahomans, but in recent years, they have adopted a 'middle of the road'(progressive) mentality and are often on the wrong side of issues.

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Third, in the op/ed, The Oklahoman describes some of the more conservative members of the State House and Senate as ‘ideologues.’ They mean these duly elected officials are ‘impractical idealists, partisan advocates who blindly follow a particular ideology.’ The implication is they (The Oklahoman) are ‘enlighted, open minded, common sense, bi-partisans.’ The statement either shows their complete ignorance or their arrogance. The reality is that everyone bring into their decision making process their own biases and opinions. Our views are filtered through our life experiences, education, value system and temperament. The Oklahoman editorial staff is as much an IDEALOGUE as those they accuse. To not recognize their own ‘biased’ approach to news reporting/editorial writing is intelligentially dishonest.

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Finally, governing from the center means staying in the middle of the road. This 'middle of the road' mentality is what has produced the economic mess in Washington. No one wants to take a principled stand for limited government.
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The center is a dangerous place. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thacker said about being in the middle of the road, “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” Ambrose Bierce, an American writer from the late 19th century said, “We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.”

3 comments:

Michael Bates said...

The Oklahoman wants special deals for the powerful and connected, not smaller government and lower taxes for everyone. That's why they preferred Burrage to Jones. Gary won't turn a blind eye to waste, fraud, and abuse, no matter how well-connected the perpetrator.

Steve Fair is a political activist. said...

Michael:

You are absolutely right. Electing Gary may have been the most important 'flip' of an office in Oklahoma in years. Thanks for reading.

Steve

LD Jackson said...

I have been hearing a lot of the same thing about Gary Jones. If there is corruption, he will take it head on, with no beating around the bush. I sincerely hope he does that. Maybe he could come down to Sequoyah County and look around.

Concerning The Oklahoman and it's desire to see the new Republican leadership in Oklahoma govern from the middle of the road, I agree with you, Steve. We have had entirely too much of that, of late. I am not one to favor partisan bickering, but the Republicans should be able to take a principled stand without the bickering. Something needs to change, that much is sure.