The world wept for joy; Oklahoma spat defiantly. The glory train of history pulled out of the station; Oklahoma waved goodbye and said “good riddance.” Dr. King’s dream came true; Oklahoma slumbered on, curled up on the hearth of racism and addicted to the mind-numbing power of the word “conservative.”
Whatever the rest of the country is up to, it must be wrong. If the American voter wants to send five new Democratic senators and 19 representatives to Washington, Oklahomans will respond by not electing a single Democrat running in a statewide election. If Obama wants to redraw the electoral map, turning red states blue, we will hunker down and become the reddest of all red states ” the only state in which not a single county went for Obama.
The candidate that Gen. Colin Powell called “transformational” did not transform the Sooners ” he made us even more recalcitrant. The opportunity to break down old walls instead of propping them up again passed us by. The chance to prove that race has nothing to do with it passed us by. The chance to support the next generation of young people, born again to a passion for politics, passed us by.
While almost everyone in the world celebrated this stunning about-face in the image of our tarnished nation, the majority of Okies proved once again that nothing has to make sense to make us proud, and God must find something endearing about ignorance.
Jim Inhofe’s campaign unleashed the hounds of hell against Andrew Rice and then claimed “Jim Inhofe is Oklahoma.” Are those conservative values? The gay card was played against Jim Roth and Dana Murphy won a narrow victory. Are those family values? End-time Oklahoma preachers spread rumors about Obama being Muslim or the Antichrist and did it in the name of Jesus. Are those Christian values?
We may be thumping our suspenders and smiling over our red-blooded patriotic Oklahoma values, but the sad fact is we have become a national embarrassment “¦ again. We are addicted to words that nobody can define without committing a grand fallacy: The “moral” presidential candidate is the divorced man who met his billionaire bombshell second wife in a bar. The “socialist” candidate is the one who wants to stop redistributing all the wealth to the already wealthy.
The man you can “trust” in the White House was a member of the Keating Five, but the one you can’t was, like Jesus, a community organizer (Pontius Pilate was the governor). The “crazy” preacher is the one who dared to say that America’s actions of late have been damnable, but not the one who speaks in tongues and casts the demons of witchcraft out of a woman who would be vice president.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out how we are supposed to impress upon our kids the importance of education when we consistently vote for intellectual mediocrity over someone who graduated Harvard at the top of his class. As for “Joe Six-Pack,” why would we confuse someone we’d like to drink beer with someone we’d want to be president? As for being an elitist, what is more condescending than the supposed moral superiority of the Christian Right?
Standing in line to vote, I met an elderly black woman who had her eyes on the prize. She said, “Rosa Parks sat down so that Martin Luther King Jr. could walk. Martin walked so that Obama could run. Obama ran so that our children could fly.”
Meanwhile, back at the red-dirt ranch, Oklahoma fell flat on its face. We are on the wrong side of history again, and we’re damn proud of it.
Meyers is minister of Mayflower UCC Church of OKC, and professor of rhetoric in the philosophy department at Oklahoma City University.