The concept of creating and building progressive archipelagos-larger cities and towns where liberalism, diversity and intellectualism flourish-in typically conservative states has been around for some time.
Interconnected, progressive archipelagos can bypass or render insignificant the craziness of ultra-conservative state legislatures while embracing modernity and celebrating cultural advances, such as same-sex marriage. Progressive archipelagos create havens for artists and scientists, welcome progress and embrace equality. They offer leading edge medical services and promote healthy lifestyles. They are also extremely fun places to live and visit, with an abundance of cultural opportunities.
The concept is particularly important for Oklahoma, which is an “extreme” red state dominated by conservative ideology.
For many of us progressives, the relentless, bizarre news from the state Capitol makes us feel disconnected, politically useless and marginalized. Why even get involved in one losing cause after another? Why even attempt to argue rationally when such attempts are dismissed or ridiculed? Why even support an intelligent, deserving candidate for state office when her opponent will handily win using simple bigotry and other appeals to ignorance?
But we absolutely can build a progressive, Oklahoma City archipelago, a vibrant city that supersedes the silliness and extremism of the state Capitol and interconnects with other progressive cities in the nation. It’s immensely doable. It stares us in our faces.
That’s why the news that Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid, pictured right, is planning a run for Oklahoma City mayor in 2014 should be celebrated on the rooftops. Clang the pots and pans. Ring the bells. Hope has arrived. A new day is a coming.
Now is absolutely the time for progressive-minded people to come together to get something accomplished here at long last.
Shadid, a medical doctor now serving as Ward 2 councilman, has proven himself to be a visionary when it comes to a plethora of issues, such as urban sprawl, the city’s infrastructure, walkable communities and health. He embraces diversity and intellectualism. He encourages citizen participation like no other politician in the state. He’s not afraid to butt heads with or collaborate with corporate power brokers. He even won his council seat despite a concerted and disingenuous effort by them to impugn his reputation.
As a councilman Shadid has hosted amazingly well-attended forums on sprawl and transportation issues. I personally know him to be a tremendously considerate and intelligent man always ready to listen. He asks questions. You talk.
Shadid has not formally announced he’s running, and it’s unclear who else might run for the position, including current Mayor Mick Cornett, who would be seeking a fourth term. Now’s the time to tell Shadid you want him to run whether you live in Oklahoma City or not. Don’t hesitate. As Oklahoma City mayor, Shadid could do much to enhance the quality of life here.
In a Facebook post about his possible run, Shadid said:
It is no secret that I have been approached and have explored the possibility of trying to unite the people of OKC across the spectrum, rescue the MAPS program from a fatally flawed process, introduce honesty, transparency and public collaboration on an unprecedented scale, and add value to the city.
Here’s the deal: Progressives can and will win this election and make Oklahoma City a progressive archipelago in a red state that has lost its way in anti-Obama hysteria and extreme, conservative ideology.