Progressives and conservatives have more in common than we care to admit (in public, at least). We desire efficacious and transparent government, we expect our elected officials have an understanding of the Constitution (or at least be able to spell “constitution” ” with a few notable exceptions), we desire less governmental intrusion in our personal lives and both embrace free speech. Progressives and conservatives share yet another thread: single-issue pontificators whose alligator mouths are much larger than their mockingbird posteriors.
Some more vocal progressives would argue that they are at the top of their game and poised to gain coveted ground because of the perception of the war in Iraq as well as alleged scandals with Republican leadership. But the most recent Oklahoma City school bond issue would contradict such delusion. The holy grail of progressives is education (read: education funding), and with some of the lowest voter turnout in Oklahoma history, the progressive base either has forgotten why it came to the dance in the first place or, more likely, stayed home altogether.
Sure, the school bond issue received the overwhelming support of 78 percent, but only about 14,200 eligible voters broke away from “America’s Next Top Model” reruns to hit the polls. It’s rather like boasting of being class valedictorian at your home school. Sorry, but as we like to say around deer camp, “that dog don’t hunt.” The only thing “staggering” about the victory is how few people made the decision to give Oklahoma City Public Schools an additional $248.3 million.
Progressive and so-called conservative elected officials have betrayed the electorate and the aggregate result is voter apathy, and no amount of screeching and caterwauling will change that fact. Progressives ran as fiscal conservatives in the last election cycle and defeated Republicans who had broken previous campaign promises, but the tab has come due and the progressives have come up more than a little short. They too will feel the wrath of the electorate ” all 12 of those voters who actually will show up at the polls.
And before we forget, the much maligned House Bill 1804 saw elected officials of both parties support it, and the immigration-tied measure certainly was not vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry.
The extremes on both sides of the political spectrum are in for a significant surprise in the next election cycle both in Oklahoma and on a national battlefield. The presidential candidates have become aware of voter angst and are adjusting their positions appropriately. Hillary Clinton has moderated her stance on the war; Barack Obama has shifted to the right on his position on earmarks. Bill Richardson has shifted on illegal immigration, Mitt Romney has moved to the right on abortion, and the biggest laugh is Rudy Giuliani trying to appease my Second Amendment-supporting brethren.
Progressives need to put away their “mission accomplished” banner or they will find themselves in the same rhetorical position as the neoconservative talk show hosts who preach the administration talking points memo as though it were penned by the apostle Paul himself.
Black is host of Wild Oklahoma radio and television, the recipient of the 2007 Oklahoma Rifle Association’s Mike McCarville Media Award and a consultant living in Edmond.