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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.

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.

I beg to differ. Or more accurately, I differ whether you like it or not.

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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Pretty much. (6+ / 0-)

    Though, to your point about Oklahoma having elected Democratic governors: that's true, but I'm not sure those were any sort of liberals.  I don't know too much about the political history of Oklahoma, but here in Texas, Democrats ran the state up until the 1970s but they were usually conservative.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 08:07:54 PM PDT

  •  The Harlem Renaissance began in Tulsa. (9+ / 0-)

    Where do you think all that culture came from all of a sudden in Harlem? Before the Tulsa riot, the African American community was thriving and expanding culture.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 08:08:34 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary (10+ / 0-)

    As a fellow Oklahoman, I appreciate you taking the time to make these important points. Brad Henry was a great Democratic Governor and Mary "Failing's" being challenge by a popular local dem state senator.

    It would be great if the anti oklahoma prognosticators on the site quit bitching about how "we" elected Mary and voted for mittens by a 2-1 margin, put their efforts and money where their goddamn mouths are and contributed to Joe Dorman's campaign. Even if all 77 counties went for mittens by a 2-1 margin that still means 1/3 of the electorate voted for Obama. There are more registered dems than rethugs in the state, per the election board, we have just been abandoned by the rest of the dems in the region and country. With a decent candidate (which we have) and a mobilized base we could give the governors mansion back to the correct party.

    And yes I have donated and will volunteer for Joe Dorman AND Constance Johnson. It's simple, should we just give up because were down in the state currently or should we keep working to change minds and elect democrats? But hey, were all just dumb, conservative, racist, ignorant bigots so fuck it. Let the tea party have the state unopposed.

    •  exactly (5+ / 0-)

      after 2012 election, a Kos member pointed out that Obama wouldn't have won the popular vote without Dem voters in Red States. lazy and inaccurate to pretend that the blue states need not give a f**k about the red states. We're all in this together, peeps. (Will update with link to that diary if I can find it...)

    •  I would love to donate to Joe Dorman (0+ / 0-)

      Oh, wait. I forgot. I don't have a fucking job. Laid off three years ago and went eighteen months without a job. Finally got a job which lasted eighteen months and got laid off again.

      Livin' the dream in the great state of Oklahoma.

  •  Is Oklahoma really poor? (5+ / 0-)

    I live in Houston; my parents both grew up in Oklahoma. I still have relatives I visit there, mostly in Oklahoma City. Some are Republican and some are not. They all seem reasonably well to do.
    I had a cousin who taught school there. She seemed to enjoy her job, working in a good school system. I have known teachers elsewhere who seemed to think they had a thankless job.
    Yes, President Obama lost every county in OK both times, and the state is definitely Republican. Not totally so, however.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 08:53:36 PM PDT

    •  Not that poor (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brooklyns finest, RJDixon74135

      State GDP is in top half of all states I believe. Mississippi and Louisiana ensure we aren't at the bottom of anything. Lot of work to be done here but we all aren't uneducated, poor farmers.

    •  And I have relatives in Alabama (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alypse1, bluenick, jedennis

      who are very well-to-do, but that doesn't mean Alabama is a rich state.  Most of the South has high levels of inequality; if you happen to know somebody who's near the top, then you'd think the South is rich.  It's not.

      29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

      by TDDVandy on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 09:01:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, it is. You should get out of your relative's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      neighborhood next time you visit. I doubt you'll have the time required to get out into the country and see their reality, but the demarcation and segregation in OKC of/by class is both striking and typical.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 05:01:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The haters are out in force. (5+ / 0-)

    There was a diary yesterday bashing Detroit and it made the Community Spotlight. It seems that denigrating and despising other Americans has become the new DKos sport.

    If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

    by edg on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 09:08:39 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for this. Call me crazy but... (13+ / 0-)

    I believe in a progressive vision that doesn't denigrate or abandon any part of this country.

    People everywhere deserve justice, equality and the chance to live a life with dignity. Yes, even in states where the majority of voters elect leaders with disastrous policies.

    Even if you've decided to personally hate everyone who votes Republican (and think about what it means if you do), what about their kids? Don't they count? Don't you at least want good things for them? Or do you figure they're just gonna grow up to be people you hate, too, so screw them?

    50 state strategy? Damn right I support it.

    "Republicans Vote To Repeal Obama-Backed Bill That Would Destroy Asteroid Headed For Earth." 2/2/11 The Onion

    by brooklyns finest on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 09:11:58 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, thank you, thank you! (5+ / 0-)

    I am so glad you wrote this, and I wish I could recommend it ten thousand times.

    As I stated in another diary, Oklahoma is my home. The politics may suck, and people may wear religion on their shoulder, but it's still a great state. It also has one of the most colorful histories of any state in the Union. There's a lot of neat things about our state, but outsiders won't research them because they're too busy calling us ignorant, redneck, backward, hillbilly, etc.

  •  It's a hobby (4+ / 0-)

    of some to be punitive to Oklahoma, Nebraska, et cetera.

    Yet, they don't do a damn thin to change the political landscape.

    I have no use for 'em.

    Huey728 "I'm not really big on calling strangers on the phone, but I felt this election was too important to just sit back and watch." Elections are decided exactly this way; every damned election! GOTV counts... the votes!

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 10:27:05 PM PDT

    •  Oh geez (0+ / 0-)

      It's a hobby of some to be punitive to NYC, NJ, Mass, CT.  Even my son asked me why I didn't warn him that saying he was from NJ would lead to derision out west.  But, I agree.  There are good people and lunatics everywhere.  

      Let's see how Hunter frames this

      by voicemail on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 11:40:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  From the other side of the Red River, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    thank you!  I could no more describe Oklahoma to some of my California family than fly. My sister who has visited here in Texas and spent a Thanksgiving in Beavers Bed knows differently, but she will take experiential evidence. Others not as much.

    But I get where you're coming from.

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 01:36:56 AM PDT

  •  And where do the Gap Band come from? Tulsa. (0+ / 0-)

    (Can't seem to muster embed codes on a smartphone)

    No Oklahoma means no "Outstanding", no "You Dropped a Bomb On Me", etc.

    Real Democrats don't abandon the middle class. --John Kerry

    by Lucy Montrose on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 01:42:03 AM PDT

  •  So why did OK change so quickly? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've always liked Oklahoma, admittedly without visiting it, so I am a little curious about that.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 04:04:10 AM PDT

    •  it didn't (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bluenick, Sam Hill

      Oklahoma voted with the exact same popular vote margin in 2008 as it did in 2004: 31.2% Republican, while they kept their Democratic governor. In 2012 it crept up to 33.6% Republican, but in truth they haven't had a popular vote go for a Democratic in a presidential race since Lyndon Johnson. Who came closest? Jimmy Carter, 1976, reducing the margin to 1.26% Republican.

      OK doesn't generally vote for Democrats for president, even when they do for state offices. The margin matters because in terms of % they didn't go mad over Obama. They voted along the same lines as the previous presidential election.

      What you are seeing now in Oklahoma is a change in the REPUBLICAN PARTY, and it looks like wholesale change in Oklahoma because Democrats aren't lifting a finger to fight back, unlike in Wisconsin, Ohio where they expect to win electoral votes.

  •  Old joke is why is the TX-OK border so windy. (0+ / 0-)

    Because TX sucks and OK blows. (Not that ther's anything wrong with that). (That's four sensitivities pooped on)

    Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

    by OHdog on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 04:29:42 AM PDT

  •  Not much going on in that state I'm afraid (0+ / 0-)

    I think that's the problem. Young people with opportunities are always going to move out of a state where there isn't much to do. Perpetuates the problem. Those who can make money take  it out of the state.

  •  As a local, I will have mixed feelings about this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unfangus, Expat Okie


    Yesterday I was looking at a Dem's voting record, who plans to run against Mary Fallin. It was disappointing to say the least.

    The guy voted for so many wands for okie vaginas, I woke up this morning and thought I was Annie Sprinkle.

    He also voted yea to teach creationism in schools. sad.

    Brad Henry seems like a genetic throwback and he's no longer serving. Now all we have are the usual, and what appears to be DINOs.

    I cannot think of a day that has gone by, when I haven't encountered someone locally talking about Obama conspiracies.

    The fact that we have to have a protracted legal battle about putting storm shelters in public schools doesn't bode well for our collective state IQ.

    And every day I watch construction companies fill in wetlands to put houses on. When these seeps are gone, what  happens to our wells and our aquifers?

    On the other hand, I also meet a lot of people who are growing their own food, who are trying to do the local bit for saving the environment, because it sure as hell isn't going to happen at the state level.

    But we still don't have good sidewalks that connect the urban sprawl. Bike lanes are in rich areas like Edmond and no where else.

    So walking or biking any significant distances is dangerous. I see lots of disabled people in hoverounds riding ON THE ROAD, with traffic having to cross sometimes without even cross walks. One was hit by a bus recently.

    Recent funds will pave wild areas in parks for people who are disabled, but not apparently install sidewalks in town, so that these people can get off the road, and do simple things like go to the store.

    Last night one of our big name reps was on the tee vee, talking about how he didn't believe that the fracking and the recent collection of quake swarms were connected and that people opposed to fracking will use any scare tactic they can to stop it. As if I didn't live here as a child and my dad--and so we know the truth of that. The quakes are new and the result of fracking and injection wells.

    This is the same guy that doesn't "believe" in global warming.

    I can see why Oklahoma looks so grim to outsiders. It looks grim to me living here most days.

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 05:36:21 AM PDT

  •  Although you talk about... (0+ / 0-)

    the politics, you really didn't disprove what was quoted in the first box.

    Oklahoma is in the bottom ten in many categories (healthcare, teen birth rates, education).

    Like a previous poster said, Oklahoma doesn't stand out as much thanks to places like Mississippi.

    •  Oklahoma is in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Expat Okie

      the bottom ten in many categories but as a resident of the state it is very annoying to be painted as uneducated, poor and conservative with the broad brush that is usually followed by "fuck oklahoma" it's super red. I have a masters degree, and make a wage that would be well above average in any state (no I don't work for an oil company).

      Please don't think that everyone here is  an ignorant republican (redundant). OKC is a vibrant metro area with an NBA team and many infrastructure projects in progress to the tune of around $1 billion dollars over the last five or so years. It also boasts the countries lowest unemployment rate.

      It's true their is poverty here and many people without access to a decent education. But we also have a fine research university in OU and GE is currently building a massive research labratory which will spur even more infrastructure growth. With it, GE is bring high paying jobs to the area.  With some work and demographics on our side, OK can be turned a lovely shade of purple as the urban metro area continually grows and will eventually have more population that the rural areas of the state ( see Maryland  or Virginia)

  •  So why do Oklahoma residents allow them- (0+ / 0-)

    selves to be exploited like this?

    •  Excellent question... (0+ / 0-)

      Guess many of them have bought into the "gubmint" is bad and wants to take our guns away. Most oklahoma voters are very socially conservative. Any candidate railing against abortion and whatnot can get elected by he evangelicals. Doesn't make much sense to me, but either do the people voting against their own self interest election after election.

  •  my personal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alexandra Lynch

    idea about oklahoma was formed in about 1968 when I was hitchhiking out west and got spotted in Ponca by a deputy. At that time the Vagrancy requirement was $30, and my own personal $22 didn't make it. During my 30 days in jail I met some good people- looking back, all of whom were in there for "not enough money" type misdemeanor crimes.
    I guess my impression is that the working people there are just fine but the people in authority, from top to bottom, are  vicious hateful opportunistic dogs.
    As a hobby I kind of follow in the media about how poor people are treated there- not much has changed.

    I buy and sell well trained riding mules and American Mammoth Jack Stock.

    by old mule on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 11:08:25 AM PDT

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