By DALE DENWALT
Don’t talk. Don’t even think about it.
While you’re at it, don’t even show up.
If I had to summarize the actions of Republicans in the Oklahoma House of Representatives this year, I would only have to write those 18 words. In just three short months, we’ve seen several attempts to diminish freedoms of ordinary Oklahomans. Here’s their gameplan:
Step One: Constrain yourself. The very first day of session saw the passage of the House Rules, which should be a rather innocuous action. Those in charge, however, slipped in a clause that allows a single committee chair to kill a bill until after the next election. That way, even if a good bill like Nick’s Law finally gets support of Republicans, they can’t hear it.
Step Two: Lock the courtroom doors. Despite failing to show one case of lawsuit frivolity in Oklahoma, the House GOP keeps spinning the ol’ broken record of tort reform. Their “reform” would grant immunity to corporations that hurt consumers by making it harder to bring a lawsuit to court.
Step Three: Keep registered voters from voting. In what I can only assume is a tactic to keep Democratic voters from the ballot box, Republicans approved a state question that, if passed by Oklahomans next year, would keep citizens from voting unless they bring along a photo ID or their registration card. The most ludicrous thing about this resolution is that the government, which is supposed to protect the minority, would allow a majority to limit the right to vote. Again, there is absolutely no evidence of voter fraud in Oklahoma.
Step Four: Refuse the people’s choice. I’d be laughing if this wasn’t so sad. Voters picked The Flaming Lips’ song “Do You Realize??” as the official state rock song, but 39 Republicans on the House floor thought a controversial T-shirt and dirty words were enough to override the will the people. Last I checked, rock ‘n’ roll is all about controversy and dirty words.
A 19th Century politician said, “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” The quote is 150 years old, but it applies even today.
– Dale Denwalt is the executive vice president of Young Democrats of Oklahoma and a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer