Oklahoma State of the Parties

Analysis: While it is likely Will Rogers, Oklahoma’s Favorite Son, would be a Republican today, his quote from back in the day on party politics declared, “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat.” He might enjoy that both parties now question their own organizations.

What is the primary goal of a political party? Is a party’s mission to represent membership in public debates or to increase the numbers of registered members and level of participation? Are party goals better accomplished from the top down or grassroots up? How can members ensure county and state leadership represent their views? Can any party remain viable with competing, if not contradictory, agendas? Are “establishments” in parties working against their own majorities?

Bruce Niemi, Chair of the Tulsa County Democratic Party, in an interview with this writer said, “People are getting into politics for all kinds of reasons. They used to be just lawyers. Currently I think it is mostly preachers and teachers.

“There is not so much of a party establishment in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Democrat Party seems to be progressive in a very liberal way, particularly on identity issues. The party used to be labor and blacks and other minorities and big city [political] machines. Back in the Roosevelt days, it had southern whites but that has all dissolved into Wallstreet Interests and Technology Democrats, then the AOC (Alexandria Ocasio Cortez) Progressive Wing with their high emphasis on minorities, feminists, and the LGBTQ community.

“I was a Bernie Sanders Delegate to the National Democratic Convention eight years ago and he wasn’t given a fair hearing. Sanders was cut out by what I would call the establishment or DNC group, which I believe is dominated by your big contributors and national movers and shakers of the party,” Niemi continued.

“Back in the 80s people like Gary Hart and another guy from Colorado were called techno-democrats and got the ball rolling. Certainly, in the 1990s, when I was active as an elected official, that group was emerging especially among left-of-center moderates. I don’t really think the Progressive Wing has much of a following and is considered off-the-wall. President Joe Biden would be a centrist or one step to the left.

Question: Centralist is not how the Biden Administration has executed policy. How does that fit?

“He can build consensus and get things done and, in this case, it has been very progressive issues having to do with job creation, infrastructure, that kind of thing,” Niemi said.

Question: What about the Biden Administration not providing Secret Service Protection to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.? Isn’t that evil, given the assassinations that killed his father and uncle?

“Technically, I would agree with you. I think that any serious presidential candidate should be protected and Bobby is polling around 15% now if not more in some swing states. I think that is worthy of Secret Service Protection. I would give Jill Stein, the Green-Rainbow Party, the same kind of protection.

“Where I am in leading the Tulsa County Democratic Party is growing the group to build membership and participation. I am trying to ignore the ideological divides and intersectionality and all that stuff which can immediately turn someone against someone else,” Niemi concluded.

Significant, but not mentioned, is the increase of radical Islamists and Communists within the Democratic Party and the exit of Jewish and other voters of faith.

With the Oklahoma Republican Party Convention set for this coming weekend, many anticipate disputes on policy, personnel, and points of order. As a former-Communication Chairman for Tulsa County Republicans, this writer is not now directly engaged in those disputes. However, there are a few points for consideration.

All party affiliation is voluntary and self-selected. Less than .003 percent of registered Republicans participate in party organizations. While national issues dominate national media it is important that every local organization focus on leadership to see that local voices are communicated to the national level.

We don’t need to elevate those who are more concerned for their own fame and position than loyally representing the people that elect them. Elected officials represent constituents in policy debates. If they get it wrong, we elect someone else next cycle. Party organizations must be less confrontational and more inviting.

Currently, there appear to be four different “swimming lanes” in the Oklahoma Republican Party.

·   Republican Establishment: Otherwise known as RINO Republicans often aligned with existing “money talks” structures, including but not limited to Chamber of Commerce and Nonprofit Organizations. They practice a top-down or authoritarian management style.

·   Conservative Establishment: Conservative on all topics, this group shares the top-down authoritarian style. Think pastors and preachers presenting “my way or the highway.” Many in this group have delusions of grandeur falsely equating fame with accomplishment and/or “chosen by God” empowerment of their leadership.

·   Conservative Grass Roots: This populist style of conservatives are rowdy rule-followers and expect each voice be heard. They typically question the authority and motives of leadership. Texas Senator Ted Cruz would be a national example.

·   Traditionalist: These believe in the Declaration of Independence (why America), the U.S. Constitution (how government should work), equal application of the Rule-of-Law (how courts should work) and the Bill of Rights (as individually owned rights from Nature or Nature’s God which preexist government). They believe there are only two genders, accurate history and, as conservatives, don’t want to know what others do in private. They believe in the traditions of western civilizations and see this election as a choice between Tradition (as represented by Trump) and Chaos generated by Leftists and Communists that never detail what is the intended beneficial results of their so-called “progressive” policies shown historically to result in poverty, totalitarian rule, and despair.

All Oklahoma Republicans are publicly united in support of Donald J. Trump. They also agree on faith, family and apple pie. To be sure, some Oklahoma Republicans may cross lanes and consider others of various divides differently. This writer holds opinions on party personalities, but this presentation asks how to get the parties to best represent the people? By principles and platform, parties should detail, defend and ensure their plans for our people individually and as a nation. The upcoming Oklahoma GOP Convention should be fun.

OK Rep. Jared Deck D-Norman offered, “Oftentimes, Democrats struggle in wrangling the big tent approach. My mentor growing up said, ‘Public service is a catch-22. Just when you think you’re doing the world a ton of good, you’re screwing over somebody, and sometimes you gotta choose who it is.’ I still harken back upon those words.

“What’s important to me is putting actions before words. Words are important, but I’d rather show you I care than tell you. I sometimes am frustrated by social media warriors who choose not to show up on days we serve the poor and indigent. We don’t need careless commentary; we need people who care enough to act,” Deck declared.

“I feel it’s my role to set an example of doing the work rather than making a lot of noise. It doesn’t mean I don’t speak up in necessary moments, but I believe that doing the work builds rapport and relationships that help us accomplish more than one person can do alone.”

Deck is also a songwriter and musician recently launching his first national album. (Click here for that music online.)

“As a songwriter the job is to tell stories in a relatable way. As a legislator the job is similar. I listen to what my constituents are experiencing and tell their collective story through my votes, debates, and bills I write. The story of blue-collar struggle is what both my music and my public service seek to communicate and elevate.

“Two-party politics has become increasingly unpopular among younger voters. The fastest growing registration is ‘unaffiliated’ because young people aren’t seeking a concrete platform that matches them wholly, but a place to belong that provides the independence to grow and change over time. We’ve created the most indebted generation of 20-somethings in the history of the planet, and the party who renews their American Dream in a tangible way will have the best opportunity to win the future,” Deck concluded.

The “American Dream” is about equal opportunity and it is the core of American Tradition, not forced equal outcomes. Is it possible both parties can agree on that to save the nation? We can hope so.

Editor’s Note: This analysis was first published on the author’s Straight Up site here on Substack and distributed to over 3,100 subscribers primarily in Oklahoma by email. Readers of Tulsa Today are invited to subscribe free to Straight Up to get the latest news first.

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