Can it be this easy to move forward and handle our nation's problems competently?
(Click on Sen. Susan Collins in the image above for a fun throwback minute)
We're hopeful, but not naïve. We need the carrot of relevance, and the stick of election reform to get these people pulling in the same direction.
Raise your hand, and do be honest, who among us can faithfully recount anything out of Senator Joe Manchin's mouth for the last 5 years, or has uttered "West Virginia" in any context other than OU Football? Now he's one of the most popular Senators around, with a gaggle of press recording his thoughts. From West Virginia??? If they can do it, why not Oklahoma?
Thank you again, Georgia, for making this conversation happen. (click here for news on Georgia shenanigans) and here for proposed Michigan restrictions. We know you're under voting siege, and we support you, but, honestly, they're coming after our own little shreds of voting dignity and self-determination in Oklahoma too, so we're all in the same boat.
We can also thank Newt Gingrich for the party-sanctioned, hyperbolic vitriol and dysfunction today. The ultimate populist rabble-rouser, in 1995, as part of his plan to lock down far- right partisan control of the House, Gingrich actively discouraged cooperation between members of Congress. Representatives shared dismal bachelor/bachelorette pads. They were told to go home every weekend from Thursday to Sunday, fundraise, leave their families in their districts as human shields, and drive the minivan to soccer. No longer would they be forced to exercise self control as they squinted a 100-yard stare across a DC Little League diamond. No more did a spouse say "Well, who cares, the guy is hilarious and they're all coming over for taco night."
Gingrich was not inherently evil and had many legitimate fiscal policy objections, but he unwittingly shoved the uncontrollable angry mob boulder down the Hill.
We want them to succeed, we want them to hammer out some sensible solutions.
AND we want to break open the institutional party duopoly they all rode to power so that Independents, centrist Dems and Reps, young voters, old voters, and those who can't leave work to vote can ALL participate in democracy freely and legitimately.
This does NOT happen if we must all have a notarized birth certificate in our hands at the polls. This does NOT happen if we need a notarized doctor's affidavit a month before the election to get an absentee ballot. This does NOT happen if we let the Governor circumvent the citizens' right to elect a replacement US Senator, and appoint whoever he likes to spend our tax money.
These measures come from a place of fear: Fear of you, the Centrist Voter, fear of the 16% and growing Oklahomans registered as Independent, fear of election reforms rumbling in our neighboring states, also fed up with nonsense and irresponsibility.
Fear that their stranglehold will loosen and force them to have lunch, for Pete's sake.
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Just over 100 years ago, the 19th Amendment gave women in the United States the right to vote in every State. American women were finally recognized as autonomous individuals who deserved their own political identities.
The women’s suffrage movement was a decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States. It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right, and the campaign was not easy: Disagreements over strategy threatened to cripple the movement more than once. Protesting women were beaten, force-fed in jail, and ridiculed by their peers.
But on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
This week, we mark both the 1-year anniversary of Covid19 shutdowns and official Pandemic status, and International Women's Week.
Women have borne the brunt of Covid economic disruption as they’ve struggled to care for kids at home, manage erratic online or home school programs, AND try to keep their jobs when their male counterparts have often not experienced the same expectations. The pandemic has reversed statistical progress in the already thin ranks of women at senior management levels across the country, and women typically continue to shoulder most household responsibilities while making up 2/3 of minimum wage jobs. Twenty-five percent of working women have been considering taking themselves out of the workplace or reducing their career ambitions due to Covid pandemic stress.
We reflect today on where Oklahoma stands on real progress for women, given all we've survived and lost in the last 12 months.
▪WalletHub's latest data shows that Oklahoma ranks 47th in the US on the list of best States for women.
▪Oklahoma is ranked 5th Worst State for Women to Live.
▪Oklahoma gender pay gap is worst in our region, 48th in the US.
It's hard to believe that 100 years after the 19th Amendment, Oklahoma women are still literally laboring under a system that fails to take full advantage of their talent, skills, and perspectives, and, at its worst, suppresses women's wages and opportunities in business and politics.
We must make Oklahoma the kind of place that puts real value on ALL our young people and makes it possible for them to live, serve, and raise their own families here. We’re sick of being at the bottom of every list.
OKUnited is watching our Legislators. We’re gathering the data on who is supporting the solutions we all really need, and we will be posting and updating that information on our website.
Don’t worry, we’ll be at the polls next time.
(Click on image for Wallet Hub Report)
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Ross Swimmer: In Congress, your job is the lead, not to test the wind
The events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were horrifying.
The Capitol is a place I often have visited during my time in the Cabinets of two presidential administrations, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
The Capitol was always a place that stood out as a symbol of our democracy.
It was and still will be a beacon to guide other countries toward the kind of democracy that is possible for them.
On Jan 6, this beacon was severely dimmed. Everyone who reached the Capitol steps should be prosecuted.
Our own congressional delegation was as disappointment. Thank God for Sen. Jim Inhofe, the only one who demonstrated common sense and constitutional duty.
I am reminded of a conversation with Sen. Henry Bellmon many years ago, when he was being pilloried by his Oklahoma constituents for his votes on the Panama Canal treaty and the use of busing to integrate public schools.
He told me that being a senator would be an easy job if all he had to do was make decisions by seeing which way the wind was blowing in Oklahoma. But that was not his job.
He said we are a republic in which people elect representatives to go to Washington. The representatives are to give matters the attention necessary and then vote the way they believe is in the best interests of the United States.
Oklahoma members of Congress said they were just listening to their constituents when they refused to accept Electoral College votes. They were not doing their constitutional duty. Their job was to review the facts of an election in which Joe Biden received 7 million more votes nationally than Donald Trump, then confirm that election.
There was little or no fraud in the election. The real issue was that some states of an election with the COVID-19 virus rapidly spreading. Many people were not going to vote if they had to stand in line for hours in close quarters, risking their lives.
These states enacted laws to allow voting by mail, which allowed many more voters to participate. This was not wrong!
Voter suppression is real, and allowing more people to vote should be our priority.
That is why Trump lost the election, although there were many other reasons why so many people who voted did not choose to vote for him.
Ross Swimmer, an attorney, is former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and former assistant secretry of the interior for Indian Affairs. He lives in Tulsa and is a member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board.
The Honorable Merrick Brian Garland has served in the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit since 1997.
Recently, he was nominated for the post of US Attorney General and testified this week at a Senate confirmation hearing.
At the hearing, when asked why he wished to serve as US Attorney General, Judge Garland became visibly emotional, and divulged that his grandparents fled anti-semitism and persecution in Nazi Germany, finding protection in the United States.
Judge Garland said that he feels the best way to pay back Americans for taking in his family and quite literally giving them a future, is to give whatever skills he possesses, in the best way he knows how, in service to our country. To us.
We Oklahomans have a unique tie to Judge Garland, who coordinated the successful investigation and prosecution of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols for the Oklahoma City bombing.
Garland is a true public servant, smart, measured, balanced, and methodical in his work.
His testimony yesterday shows us at our best.
Appointments like this will begin to help restore our pride in our country and its legal system.
Thank you, Judge Garland.
Known for his stance above political parties and his passion for fair play.
Keen adventurer with international wanderlust.
Aviation and polo among his passions, Will Rogers was a great reader, and, obviously, a talented writer and gifted communicator.
Born in 1879 at the family home in Indian Territory, The Dog Iron Ranch, his father, Clem, was a prominent Cherokee leader, attorney, and judge, and delegate to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention.
Near the end of 1901, when he was 22 years old, Will and a friend left home hoping to work as gauchos in Argentina. They arrived in Argentina in May 1902, and spent five months trying to make it as ranch owners in the Pampas. Rogers and his partner lost all their money, and he later said, “I was ashamed to send home for more.” The two friends separated and Rogers sailed for South Africa. It is often claimed he took a job breaking in horses for the British Army, but the Boer War had ended three months earlier. Rogers was hired at James Piccione's ranch near Mooi River Station in the Pietermaritzburg district of Natal. His first entertainment act was with "Texas Jack's Wild West Circus", in South Africa, doing rope tricks with his pony.
From that point, Will Rogers achieved unsurpassed popular fame in radio, film, newspaper journalism.
During the depths of the Great Depression, angered by Washington's inability to feed the people, he embarked on a cross country fundraising tour for the Red Cross.
Will Rogers continued the tradition of Mark Twain as America's conscience, beloved for his sharp wit, common sense, and character. No doubt we would have had many more years of his gifts if not for the tragic plane crash in Alaska in 1935.
Something Will Rogers wrote in 1928 that rings strangely true nearly 100 years later:
"I hope there is some sane people who will appreciate dignity and not showmanship in their choice for the presidency"
HERE'S TODAY'S MESSAGE: NOW IS THE TIME TO DOUBLE DOWN
It's been a draining 2 weeks for all of us. An intense and dispiriting Impeachment Trial Deux, polar vortex, broken water pipes, lack of heat, horrific highway accidents, falls on icy steps and streets, power grid failures, deaths from exposure, delayed vaccine distribution, and confirmed Covid-19 variants in Oklahoma. And our schools and businesses can't seem to sustain any momentum at all before another epic setback grinds them to a halt.
But Pandora's Box (a jar, technically) also contained Hope. We may debate whether Hope is a gift, or the cruelest possible curse on humankind, or whether it was actually Pandora's husband who actually opened the lid, but Hope keeps us all going one way or another. Another striking parallel to politics today, as we argue over who is responsible, but all believe we must move forward.
Will Rogers, cynical as he could be, still believed in the strength of the ordinary. He spread a message of hope and trust in the common man and woman, and natural suspicion of disconnected, professional politicians. This during the Dust Bowl, the Depression, and the New Deal.
Even though it's tempting to fall prey to fear-mongering pundits, are things really worse now than the 1930s?
We will continue to help each other, delivering food, fixing pipes, taking in strangers in need, encouraging our children.
We must also dig deep and double down, and support the elected officials who stand up for the center, the backbone of America. We must do whatever we can to keep politicians like those who put Country over Party:
WITH YOUR DONATION. GIVE $25 TO ANY OF THESE MEN AND WOMEN OF CHARACTER, WHO HAVE SPOKEN UP FOR US, AND ARE BEARING THE WEIGHT OF THE THREATS OF THOSE WHO STORMED OUR CAPITOL AND DAMAGED OUR STANDING IN THE WORLD.
WOULD THAT WE WERE AS WELL REPRESENTED.
Who doesn’t love The Boss and Jeep?
We’re singing off the same sheet of music here in this tremendous Super Bowl ad.
As John McCain might say, “My Friends”:
It’s important to believe in character, generosity, and calm reason, but we must walk the talk and preach the gospel of The Middle.
We must get out there tomorrow and every day forward to engage and lead by example.
You already know that unfounded opinions and reports fan the flame of “us versus them”.
You’re already well aware that it’s a false narrative designed and targeted by various entrenched special interests to pit us all against each other in a zero sum game. It leads inevitably to the Capitol riots and ludicrous claims and rumors seized and propagated by the vulnerable fringes on both sides of our political spectrum.
We have to do something about it.
OUR PITCH IS THIS:
1. DROP any donations that prop up the partisan-fringe, conspiracist fear-mongers. Do not support the Republican Party as an organization.
2. DO a little homework, find officials you like, but stop feeding your hard-earned money to a beast interested only in perpetuating itself. If an official loses your support, he or she will start wondering why, and at least the loss of funding makes it harder to spread fear and lies. The harder they scream and antagonize, the more you must look for positive alternatives that move us forward.
3. DONATE anything you can TODAY to a Centrist political movement or elected official of choice, and make sure you tell them why you’re doing it. Voter registration, local school board, non-partisan election reform. US Senators who understand that consequences must follow incendiary language and lies. Politicians who believe, like us, that there’s no place in our country for double standards or for miscarrying justice by conveniently sweeping mistakes under the rug.
4. CALL AND EMAIL your Representatives and Senators. They are nothing without you. They claim every day to speak for you. They COUNT every one of those calls and emails. The fringes are highly motivated to make noise. We must do it too.
What unites us is so much bigger than invented, artificial, tribal divisions. Let’s shed all that and focus on what needs fixing!
Tell your friends to join us at OKUnited. We need every voice!
30 April 1920 – 2 February 2021
This lifelong competitive motorcycle racing enthusiast and wartime motorbike dispatch rider and tank driving instructor raised over $45 Million for British health care workers and hospitals in April 2020 by walking 100 lengths of his garden for his 100th birthday while in pandemic lockdown.
Proof that character, persistence, and generosity always win.
Our problem-solving standard-bearer and the ONLY non-partisan American President. Eerily smart guy, and an authentic Winner to emulate. Here are his thoughts on political parties, directly from Mount Vernon.