A recent Kos post claims to have the answer to why "Oklahoma Will Always Be a Poor State". I think it's a gross misrepresentation of Oklahoma, its people, and its politics. Here's why.
If we are to believe bink's post, Oklahoma is "just one of those places."
It doesn't provide for its residents.I beg to differ. Or more accurately, I differ whether you like it or not.
It doesn't invest in an infrastructure for jobs.
It doesn't help its people get training for the jobs of the future.
It doesn't ... do anything.
Oklahoma's early history ran red in a different direction. "DURING THE first two decades of the 20th century, the state of Oklahoma boasted the largest section of the Socialist Party of any state." Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz published a personal account of this history in the first chapter of her autobiography Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie.
Oklahoma's political history is overwhelmingly Democratic. Out of 27 governors, there have been 22 Democrats, and only 5 Republicans. The first Republican wasn't elected until 1963.
During Bush's two terms, Oklahoma elected and then re-elected a Democratic governor, Brad Henry, who gave sanctuary to Texas Democrats denying their Republican counterparts a quorum over redistricting, vetoed abortion legislation mandating ultrasounds, raised the salaries of state employees, supported a lottery proposal to benefit education, and halted the sale of water from single-source aquifers.
The bottom line is Oklahoma is currently suffering from the same 2010 red tide that continues to swamp more liberal states like Wisconsin in a barrage of conservative legislation. It's pretense to be shocked that states that lack a tradition of progressive politics are having a harder time fighting against these forces.
According to bink, Oklahoma is poor and "you should probably just move away" because its "government thinks its duty is to punish people, rather than cultivate prosperity." If that's the case, 22 Democrats will be in line for the lashing. But in fact, that isn't the case. Mary Fallin's actions as Governor fall in line with national trends anywhere that Republicans hold both houses and the governorship, which they do in Oklahoma. Three years of a hard right turn isn't the single or even the main cause of Oklahoma's struggles with poverty.
But the facts aren't the point. Pissing on Republicans (and those "morons" who elected them) is the only point.
To wit, the comments section, which is also a quick tutorial on how quickly Kos can turn into a mirror image of the Fox community. The ignorance and vitriol of these comments would sit comfortably with the radical right:
"When they finish emptying the Ogallala aquifer, the place will dry up and blow away."
"...Basically, the land of Will Rogers, which had benefitted from the new deal and rural electrification, was now a vast Teabagger shithole."
"For the most part all white Oklahoma people treated the Native Americans just terrible. Maybe that nastiness got in their blood?"
"Since Doplahoma is such a shit hole I think it would be a great place to incarcerate all the convicts in the country. It could be our own Australia. We just fence the whole damn state off and voila. Doplahoma, the fun park for Rethuglicans."
"They didn't ask the sodbusters or the hillbillies if they wanted the 20th Century, because both of them would probably have said no ... you'd be a fool to give ignorant people a say."
"The fundamentlist white folks in Oklahoma had seventy five years practice at ignoring social justice, education, etc. because a huge component of their population could not vote and were the "wards" of a Federal agency. That's not the only reason for Okies social backwardness but it sure helped."
"Morons - Why Oklahoma Will Always Be A Poor State"Let's acknowledge that it's emotionally gratifying to be smug and superior, to pretend that republicans -- or an entire state -- or twenty entire states -- are the incomprehensible Other, devoid of reason or complex motivations for their behavior. But let's also acknowledge that this kind of commentary makes it harder to argue a case for progressive politics.
In part, because it's abusive: it uses the poor - republican or not - to make a punching bag for pretentious disdain.
In part, because it's ignorant: it flatly ignores the history to frame an easy target for lazy intellectual blows.
But more importantly, it obscures the real and varied local history that progressives could claim in order to make their case a native one in Oklahoma and other states afflicted with poverty, corruption, resource theft, wholesale demolition of public education, etc., all issues with histories of their own.
Better angels, anyone? Or at least some facts and pragmatism.