I think there’s a real chance for some progressive gains this election season in Oklahoma for a variety of reasons, but it’s probably not going to happen if liberals spend money and energy supporting The Oklahoma Observer in its present form, or The Oklahoma Policy Institute in any form whatsoever.
One reason for the “chance,” and, yes, it’s just a slight chance, is that the national Republican Party is a real mess right now with the Trump and Cruz spectacles. Many conservatives are bewildered and confused. This confusion may trickle down to minor, local elections in which Democrats and liberals—in Oklahoma, folks, they aren’t the same thing—are speaking out boldly and sensibly about, say, funding for schools or trying to prevent elderly people from getting kicked out of nursing homes.
The other reason for the chance is that Oklahoma conservative leaders have absolutely broken this state with their careless, reckless fiscal policies. The economy is sinking here, the state is in a revenue failure, and we’re facing a $1.3 billion budget shortfall in a tiny overall discretionary budget of less than $7 or $6 billion or so. I know there are some not-so-smart people in the Oklahoma leadership pool, such as David Blatt, but it’s so so obvious the conservatives have damaged this state in a major way. Everyone gets it even if they relish it, like they do at the conservative Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and The Oklahoman. I bet Blatt loves it, too.
But progressives and Democrats—again, these words are really exclusive—face two major obstacles in bringing about change. One is The Oklahoma Observer, which needs to immediately modernize its corny hard-copy layout and web site and start really speaking truth to power. Editor Arnold Hamilton, a nice enough intelligent guy, has dropped the ball and made a mess out of Frosty Troy’s legacy. People have approached both of them about modernizing The Observer cornball approach in order to attract a younger audience, but they are reluctant. I’ll give Frosty the benefit of the doubt because he deserves it as the founder of the publication many, many years ago. I grant no such concession to Hamilton. What does the guy even do each day? He writes about three pieces a month, including the ancient, outdated Observerscope. Dart: To Arnold Hamilton for laziness. I write many more words than you, and I teach FULL-TIME and direct a graduate studies program in my academic department. I feel like you’re lazy and arrogant. Certainly, lazy, folks. I get it that “arrogant” is subjective. I get it that you might think I’m arrogant, too. The truth is arrogant. Miss Truth, she don’t play well with others.
So here’s Miss Truth having a nice feel-good shoutout: Four of us in the Oklahoma City community—two active local working journalists, a technology expert and a tremendous line editor, approached Frosty Troy in the early 2000s and offered our services for FREE to get The Observer online. See, we wanted to do something for our state and make this a better place. We were summarily dismissed as ridiculous and outlandish people. By cracky, we’ll see if this here Internet thing is going anywhere says the great Frosty Troy, who later anointed Arnold Hamilton to destroy his and his late wife’s legacies. We weren’t even given the time of day to make our case. Three of those people live in much better cities than Oklahoma City right now and are highly successful. I’m stuck here facing state budget cuts that affect me greatly trying to get Arnold Hamilton to write more and modernize his cornball publication. Yes, I would trade places with them, and, no, I don’t hold out much hope Hamilton will up his game. Who knows about Frosty? Maybe Hamilton is keeping him behind the pay wall. Has anyone checked recently?
So let me make it a public proposal: I will assemble a team of people to modernize The Observer. If this doesn’t fit Hamilton’s archaic business and old-fashioned model, which we would work around at his SAME or MORE level of pay or income, then fine. I will then urge everyone to stop supporting the cornball publication financially as much as I can. The publication is a joke, a compilation of cornball humor and three-week-old Internet articles, all for only $40 a year. Yeah, right. The problem is that The Observer wastes financial resources and has zero street credibility. Give that $40 a year to a real progressive site, and, no, I’m not talking about Okie Funk. This is my personal intellectual territory, my mind and body. Let’s start a real, modern site that might attract younger people and give us some momentum. I will help as much as I can, but there’s only so many progressive dollars here, and Hamilton is taking a lot of them and producing a really bad product. It’s shameful and immoral.
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