Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oklahoma, WTF?

I have written about some of the things I saw last week in Oklahoma. Now, I must say there are many things to like about The Sooner State, but their politics isn't one of them. Following the recent election, I was looking at state by state maps of how the counties went either for Obama or McCain. One thing became readily apparent; Oklahoma is the only state out of the fifty that did not have one single county that had a majority vote for Mr. Obama. Not one. Every county went red.

Now I can think of a number of reasons for this. The Oklahoma education system outside of the excellent OU and OSU is not the best. People tend to be less educated than the U.S. as a whole. Its two metropolitan areas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, are not among the largest in the country. This is a state that also re-elected James Inhofe to the Senate. Yes, the same Inhofe who questions whether or not Mr. Obama loves America; the same James Inhofe who thinks global warming is a scam perpetrated by The Weather Channel. This is the state where young student, Brandy Blackbear, was expelled for allegedly placing a curse on a teacher that put him in the hospital.

So now we clearly see that Oklahoma once again reinforces the stereotype that it is a backwards-thinking state. When America overwhelmingly went for historic change, Oklahomans decided to stick with the GOP. In browsing the web about this phenomenon, I also found that former Oklahoma governor David Walters wrote about this on his blog in an entry titled, What's The Matter With Oklahoma?

As a native Oklahoman, I would love to see the state of my birth become more progressive. However, I fear the culture of ignorance makes such a change unlikely for the near term. Okies are, for the most part, good, hard working, and honest folks, who have endured a lot of hardship. However the combination of lack of opportunities, inadequate public education, and the ever present influence of fundamentalist Christianity holds them in an intellectual death grip.