No one in the mainstream media here is going to say it outright, but the fact anti-abortion fanatic Randall Terry apparently won a Democratic delegate in the recent Oklahoma presidential primary is a great embarrassment to the state.
It’s one more small reason for companies not to locate here, for people not to move here, for students not to study here, for some of our best and brightest young people to move from Oklahoma and never come back. It’s the same old story, and “right-sizing” government by eliminating the income tax and cutting educational programs even more could make it worse.
Terry, the founder of extremist Operation Rescue, has conceded he won’t be the next president, according to media reports. Consequently, his anti-abortion, rogue candidacy mocks the electoral process just as his organization mocks the reproductive rights of women. But that doesn’t apparently matter to some 20,000 Oklahomans, who voted for him and ended up rewarding him with one of the 45 Democratic delegates from Oklahoma, according to media reports. Terry won 12 counties, all of them in rural areas, but this just shows the growing political and economic disparity between rural and urban Oklahoma. He won 18 percent of the total vote.
After the vote Tuesday, the national media labeled our state with the usual script. Read here and here. The subtext here is that we’re backwards and stupid and that we allow ourselves to be emotionally manipulated in voting against our best interests. The subtext is we’re easy, almost infantile, ready to follow and listen to anyone who might as well be reading from a prepared script when it comes to so-called Christian “values,” values filled with the obvious gaping contradictions and hypocrisy the vast majority of the industrialized world sees so clearly. Of course, this subtext refers to just one segment of Oklahoma, but it gets much sustained national media attention.
The one delegate means nothing, of course, and, frankly, it didn’t even matter on a real delegate-counting level whether President Barack Obama won Oklahoma or not. When it comes to the presidential election this year, Oklahoma is completely and utterly a state with no significance, not that it’s ever had any much significance in choosing the president. It’s also no big statement against abortion. After all, it’s only 20,000 or so votes. I don’t think it’s even a statement against Obama here in conservative Oklahoma.
I think it’s a result of a local media trope or let’s call it a “hoax,” led by The Oklahoman, that Obama is “the other” (and, yes, there are racist connotations), that somehow he’s not like the good folks here in Oklahoma, which is simply wrong. Republican presidential candidate and multi-millionaire Mitt Romney, anointed by The Oklahoman editorial page, is so far divorced from the Oklahoma reality in rural areas that it’s ridiculously obvious. As expected, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum won the GOP vote majority here, but he’s not going to win the presidency because he’s a man obsessed-just like Terry-with mandating the country accept his own narrow-minded social cultural and health values, especially when it comes to women’s issues. I don’t think Santorum really represents the reality of Oklahoma either. He’s a walking theocratic symbol here, nothing more.
Even as the parent company of The Oklahoman takes advantage of Obama’s Affordable Care act, it relentlessly criticizes the president. The newspaper’s editorial page, under the Gaylord family and now under Philip Anschutz, continues its robotic criticisms of Democrats, without any regard for what the GOP is now doing to the state. The Tulsa World is little better. It supported U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe in his most recent re-election attempt and thus helped to run off his opponent, former state Sen. Andrew Rice, an Oklahoma native and one of the brightest progressive politicians this state has ever seen. Inhofe remains ensconced here with his increasingly absurd and pathetic war against climate science, a war in which he has now claimed victory.
The editorial writers and editors at each of these newspapers should blame themselves whenever state Rep. Sally Kern or Inhofe or some other extremist GOP politician makes news on a national level and embarrasses the state. They should blame themselves for Randall Terry’s success here. Do these writers and editors have a conscience? Do they not see their role in the deteriorating drama of Oklahoma’s current, extremist political circus? They created the environment; it didn’t happen in a vacuum. They continue to shut down sustained counter arguments. The irony here, of course, is that by hurting the state’s economic development and growth, these people limit their careers and, yes, their salaries and benefits. That’s fine, but they also limit the careers and salaries of most thinking people in the state, and that’s not okay.
And, of course, they’re missing the larger GOP story here and elsewhere, which is the assault on women’s bodies and health. This assault could actually become the death knell for GOP extremism, such as the personhood movement, which would grant rights to fertilized eggs in women’s wombs, or the requirement women undergo an ultrasound before an abortion. Terry is a part of this assault on basic reproductive rights, and his tiny success here only serves to wake up more people to the reality of the Republican extremists, with all their contradictions.
Will the all-out attack on women serve as the breaking point for extremist, conservative ideology and the theocratic positions of so many of Oklahoma’s politicians?