I Don't Care Who You Vote For (For President)
This year’s Presidential Elections demonstrate historic clusterfoolery, no doubt. Passions run high on all sides, and while your options are certainly not similar, all are severely flawed.
I’m asking you to look past that for a moment. Something more important needs your attention.
In Oklahoma, as in most states, every single seat in the State House of Representatives is up for grabs. There are even fewer incumbents than usual due to term limits instituted 24 years ago which restrict individuals to 12 total years in the state legislature.
Unless you’re Preston Doerflinger, the math is obvious.
Half of the State Senate seats are being decided as well. In Oklahoma, Senators serve four years, with half up for election every two. That means this November 8th, somewhere in the area of 125 legislative positions across Oklahoma will be decided.
It matters to you, your kids, your communities, your pocketbook, your workplace, and your state’s reputation across the rest of the globe.
Most of you are unhappy with the way our state is being run. We’re not all unhappy for the same reasons, and we don’t share the same ideas as to solutions, but I meet very few people who think the economy is rolling along just swimmingly, that earthquakes are awesome, public schools are doing great, overall health and happiness is hitting a zenith, and they wouldn’t so much as tweak it if they could.
I know of virtually no one hoping our legislators ignore the economy even better this coming session, or roll out even more legislation clearly designed to burn through hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal challenges before being overthrown due to blatant unconstitutionality. Again, I realize we don’t agree on the solutions. We may not even see the problems the same way. But most you recognize things aren’t going well.
That’s why I need you to vote.
Go to the Oklahoma State Election Board website and make sure you’re registered. If not, you have until Friday, October 14th to GET REGISTERED. And dammit, get registered. Quit crybabying about the system – or worse, ignoring it altogether – and do your part.
A few simple clicks will tell you your State House District and your State Senate District, as well as your Polling Place - the location at which you will vote on November 8th.
If Sample Ballots aren’t posted, they will be soon – usually about two weeks before the actual elections. That means you can preview them online or print them out so you can research or clarify anything of which you’re not certain ahead of time.
I promise you this is time well spent. However cynically you may be feeling about politics, wondering if you actually influence anything or whether or not your voice can possibly matter, please understand that - at the state level - YOU DO and IT DOES. I do not accept that most Oklahomans want things to be going this way. I contend that we have irresponsible, ideology-driven government because of voter ignorance and voter apathy. My solution is not to tell you what to think or how to vote, but to insist that you DO think and DO vote.
If democracy works even a little, that should improve things considerably.
Take 15 minutes to research your options for the state legislature. The Facebook Group “Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education” has a complete list of races and their recommendations on Facebook. On days the interwebs are happy, you can even access it directly with this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxK1BFvY6f0KM1YtWDFUMFVqSHc/view
I’m covering as many races and issues as I can at #OKElections16. And of course you can always visit candidates' campaign websites and Facebook pages or Google them all by your lil’ self.
If public education isn’t your main priority, search for information on each candidate related to whatever is. If they don’t address your issues, that by itself probably tells you something. And don’t forget YouTube as an option. Not every candidate has a speech or a promo video posted, but you’d be surprised what you come across searching local politics there. Good times, to be sure.
By which I mean hours of boring hell broken up by moments of great insight or entertainment.
If you’re still feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, that only means you’re paying attention even though you maybe haven’t so much before. Welcome – we need you, and we’re glad you’re here now. For serious. Have a cookie.
There are, of course, many other things on whatever ballot you’ll see on November 8th. They won’t look the same in every district, but you can get a very good idea what to expect with this 2016 Oklahoma Voter Guide, put together by the League of Women Voters and a variety of other informative entities across the state. It’s non-partisan and full color!
PLEASE DO NOT VOTE STRAIGHT PARTY TICKET when it's time to fill out your ballot. I'd not presume to tell you who to vote for nationally (well, I would - but not right this second), but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pay attention to individual races and individual names at home.
Politics in Oklahoma aren’t the same as politics everywhere else. An Oklahoma Democrat isn't necessarily the same creature as a California Democrat or a Massachusetts Democrat. Our 'lefties' often have strong approval ratings from the NRA, conservative social values, or other traits which would count as 'crazy right-winger' in other parts of the country.
Even Oklahoma Republicans cover quite a range. Some of them are the sorts of bile-spewing demagogues who brand the entire party as haters and nut-jobs, but many are smart people genuinely trying to guide the state along the right path as they see it. I’ve been hard on the state GOP, but I like more Republicans than I don’t. You may feel differently, but that’s the whole point – you simply must educate yourself a bit ahead of time.
If you’re voting for Trump in November, please be thoughtful and educated about the rest of your options on the ballot. It’s not always safe to assume everything will have an (R) or a (D) next to it, or that everything with an (R) will automatically support what you support.
If you’re voting for Clinton in November, please be thoughtful and educated about the rest of your options on the ballot. It’s not always safe to assume everything will have a (D) or an (R) next to it, or that everything with a (D) will automatically support what you support.
If you’re voting for Johnson in November, please be thoughtful and educated about the rest of your options on the ballot. Few of your remaining choices will have an (L) or an (I), so you’ll have to know who and what comes closest to the positions you support.
Finally – and this is a biggie – you may not be planning to vote for President at all come November 8th. You may be one of those so disgusted with the system or your choices that you’ve chosen “a pox on all their houses.” That’s fine – I won’t argue with you about that right now.
Please register, show up, and vote on the other things. Just leave the Presidential part blank. If you write anything in on that part, it will invalidate your entire ballot – a crap law, to be sure, and one I vigorously abhor, but that’s the current reality.
You CAN, however, just not choose a Presidential candidate, and skip to the stuff that matters – the State Questions, your State Legislators, etc. Those races matter, and in those races, every vote matters. For realsies.