It’s no big surprise that Oklahoma City ranks as the second most conservative big city in the nation, according to a recent academic study, but it does confirm progressives here face a huge wall when it comes to community activism and getting liberals elected to office.
Does it mean progressives should give up trying to change the political climate here? No. But it does mean progressives should realize the overall fight for basic concepts such as equality and social justice is long-term in central Oklahoma.
The study, which was conducted by scholars Chris Tausanovitch of UCLA and Christopher Warshaw of MIT and published in the American Political Science Review, was based on the analysis of large surveys. The authors created an ideological scale for 51 cities with a population of 250,000 or more. Here’s an AlterNet story about the study.
Mesa, AZ was ranked the most conservative city, followed, in order, by Oklahoma City, Virginia Beach, VA, Colorado Springs and Jacksonville. Tulsa was ranked the ninth most conservative city. The most liberal cities were, in order, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Seattle, Oakland, and Boston. New York was ranked the eighth most liberal city.
For progressives here, the study basically confirms what we already know, and, obviously, it’s not good news. Yet it’s a solid reminder that we operate and live in an extreme, sometimes radical, conservative political place. That knowledge can not only help us cope with our marginalization but also help dictate activist strategy.
What do you do when the odds are constantly overwhelmingly NOT in your favor? Who should you support politically when even Democrats can hold right-wing views? How do you get your voice heard when the vast majority of people around you don’t care about what you have to say or despise your views?
The study absolutely SHOULD NOT be welcomed news for those city and business leaders who want Oklahoma City to grow and become more culturally vibrant and interesting. Conservative ideology stifles diversity and plural cultural opportunities, two components of any great city.