How about this simple analogy:
Republicans, with super majorities in the House and Senate, are like children who suddenly find themselves in a free candy store. They’re gorging.
“Will it eventually make them sick?” ask hopeful progressives.
Democrats call it a whole lot of crazy going on. “Excuse us,” argue Republicans. “Aren’t we simply fulfilling the crystal-clear mandate given to us by voters?” However it gets defined, it’s difficult not to note the contradiction.
House Republicans, for example, have formed a States’ Rights Committee. Members have passed bills aimed at stopping the intrusion of that terrible federal government and other outside entities into state affairs.
The committee has passed a measure that would nullify so-called Obamacare
in the state, but that’s not even its most extreme point. The bill would
also make it a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, for
any federal agent or corporate employee to even try to enforce the
Affordable Care Act. Okies get a break. State employees would only face a
misdemeanor charge and up to two years in jail.
Another committee-approved bill would prohibit any political subdivision in the state from implementing aspects of Agenda 21, a nonbinding United Nations initiative to fight poverty and promote sustainability. Let’s just forget that the initiative has been around since the early 1990s and has absolutely no authority.
Another piece of legislation would prevent Oklahoma courts from using foreign law to determine cases — as if the state’s judicial system would ever do such a thing.
The point with these bills seems to be that no one’s going to tell us Oklahomans what to do.
By contrast, Republicans have also introduced bills to allow insurance companies to opt out of providing coverage for contraception and open the door for the presentation of creationist ideas about the beginning of life in the state’s science classrooms.
In other words, conservatives want to intrude into private lives and the state’s long-standing educational curriculum at the same time they want to fight supposed intrusion by the federal government, the U.N. and international law.
Most conservatives see Obamacare as extreme government intrusion. That’s not hard to get, but don’t they think many Oklahoma women will view the obsession with reproductive matters as extreme government intrusion, too?
All these bills are in various states of consideration at the Capitol, but this isn’t all the extreme ideological legislation that masquerades for lawmaking these days.
One measure would prohibit the federal government from regulating guns in any manner in the state. Another would prevent teachers from penalizing students for submitting religious content in their work. There are bills allowing the slaughter of horses in Oklahoma and the sale of their meat overseas, an extreme proposition to many Oklahomans.
With the continued dominance of Republicans in state government, the contradictions and extremism — at least by progressive standards — won’t disappear soon. This series continues. Stay tuned to the state’s ongoing reality show.
Hochenauer is an English professor at the University of Central Oklahoma and a political writer.