It’s easy for Oklahoma progressives and liberals these days to get discouraged about voting in a presidential election because we know a Democratic candidate has no chance of winning the state and will probably lose here in a huge landslide.
So why vote? The cliché, of course, is that every vote matters, and it does to the extent that increasing the overall popular vote for President Barack Obama is extremely important. But it’s also important to simply show our neighbors that Obama supporters do exist in perhaps the reddest state in the nation. When we vote for Obama in Oklahoma, we earn political space for ourselves.
There are, of course, the local and state races that drive us to the polls as well, and we do win some of these, although in diminishing numbers in recent elections.
For my liberal friends who have been disappointed by the Obama presidency, I can only urge you to consider how much damage Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could do to important social programs in our country, such as Medicare and Social Security. The “lesser of the two evils” dance grows old, I know, and especially as we personally grow older, but slow, incremental change-I believe Obamacare represents this-has its benefits as well.
So my vote, without hesitation, will go to Obama, our first African-American president, who repaired a Republican financial mess and faced conservative petty petulance with grace, endurance and a clear attempt at compromise over the last four years. The economy is on the upswing, the Iraq war is over and the Afghanistan war is winding down. The Affordable Care Act, for all its flaws, remains a huge step forward in providing health care and driving down its costs.
Romney is an elitist who is the antithesis of ordinary Oklahomans. He will work to cut taxes for wealthy people and starve government programs, such as Social Security and Medicare. His comment at an elite fundraising event during the campaign denigrating 47 percent of all Americans is a clear indication of how he feels about thousands and thousands of Oklahomans. Here is that comment:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Why an Oklahoma senior citizen collecting Social Security benefits would vote for someone who made such a hateful, dismissal remark about them remains the conundrum of progressive politics. The relentless, bizarre spew of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are a part of the equation, and The Oklahoman contributes to it as well. It has become a cliché to say people vote against their interests in red states, but it still remains true. Even one-issue social conservatives more often than not sacrifice their financial interests for their religious or gun-clinging myopia.
Beyond the presidential election, I encourage you to vote “no” on State Questions 758, 759, 765 and 766 and vote “yes” on 762 and 764. You can find my overall take on the state questions here. You can find more from me on SQ 765 here. I’m especially opposed to SQ 766, and you can find my reasons here.
I encourage voters to retain those Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices who are on the ballot.
For Oklahoma County voters, Sheriff John Whetsel is the clear choice.
It’s time to vote.