To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Friday, May 24, 2024

Observercast

The Enduring Power Of The Patriarchy

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Tax cuts, smaller government, free enterprise, quality education and other myths were discussed at the Capitol this week by the dozen disciples of White Makes Right.

True, there are only about 25 women out of 149 legislators. Some are lawyers, a number are teachers, earned advanced degrees, have run businesses, non-profits, are daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, wives, thinkers, organizers, developers, smart, experienced, committed and admired.

What they are not is involved – because the good, but so good-old-boys don’t have the sense to bring them to the table to genuinely participate.

The picture of Gov. Kevin Stitt and the lawmakers is sickening when you see two incredibly talented women lawmakers – Sens. Kay Floyd and Julia Kirt – sitting in folding chairs on the side as though they were there to get coffee and rolls for the deciders.

Years ago, legislative leaders I served with made the same mistake with tribal equals. Treated them as second-class citizens. And guess who is running the state today? Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby and Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskins Jr., for examples.

The least the legislative leaders could do would be to play like they cared about the opinions, values and experiences of women lawmakers of both parties. Let them speak, offer ideas, be recognized as equals and then, if you must, vote them down. But don’t treat them as props to be smiled at, even hugged and then sent along home as they are not allowed to utter even one logical or helpful sentence.

How shortsighted. Penny Williams, Bernice Shedrick, and Carolyn Thompson Taylor created the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. Carolyn single-handedly developed the merit scholars program at OU; Sen. Maxine Horner, the Oklahoma Promise Scholarship initiative that has sent tens of thousands of youngsters to college. OU-Tulsa was the work of former senator/representative Williams and others; HB 1017 the detail work by Sen. Shedrick and Rep. Taylor plus Williams.

Sen. Angela Munson’s work at the OU Health Sciences Center in diabetes was important especially for minorities who are affected more than Caucasians. Sen. Vicki Miles-Legrange later became a prominent federal judge. Rep. Jari Askins is now to be interim president of Cameron University. Nancy Virtue, Reps. Vicki White, Linda Larason and, back in the day, Cleta Deatherage did good work in health care and education; Rep. Hannah Atkins a future ambassador.

But they were all at the table, in the room, allowed to speak, chaired the meetings, offered wise and meaningful amendments. They were fierce debaters who knew their stuff and how to use it.

So, SNAFU continues at the Capitol and is only destined to get worse between now and the end of May, partly because much of the real talent in the Legislature atrophies on the side lines and all four million Oklahomans are less well served because of it.

Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson, a Lexington Democrat, served in the Oklahoma Legislature from 1978-2006, including one term as Senate President Pro Tempore.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.