Note To Liberals: Take A Break But Then Stay Engaged

Image of mum, pumpkins and gourds

I don’t have much in me after Donald Trump’s election Tuesday as president of the United States so this will be a short post.

There was some good news in Oklahoma on Tuesday. State Question 790, which would have removed specific language separating church and state in the Oklahoma Constitution, was defeated. Voters here also started a movement to modernize liquor laws by passing State Question 792. Criminal justice reform got a huge boost when Oklahoma voters passed State Questions 780 and 781 to help relieve prison overcrowding and hopefully started a trend to treat rather than punish drug addiction. The bogus, corporate-sponsored “right to farm” State Question 777 was rejected. Our precarious water supply is somewhat safe, at least for now.

On the negative side, the rejection of State Question 779, which would have raised money for education and teacher raises, is a clear sign for most state educators at all levels here to try to escape Oklahoma as soon as they can if it’s not too late. I feel I have a moral duty to state the obvious.

So to all educators:

Get out of Oklahoma if you can as soon as possible. Other states will welcome you with welcoming arms and pay you a lot more money and give you the respect you deserve. Now is the time for you to start making your move. If you have a decent gig, sure, by all means, ride it out and keep your options open, but a basic college-educated, trained and certified classroom teacher in a public school in Oklahoma needs to start applying for jobs elsewhere. The Oklahoma legislature is not only NOT going to give you a raise or any significant raise next session because of another huge budget shortfall, it’s probably going to even reduce your health insurance benefits.

But the big story, of course, was Trump’s victory. I’ll let the bigwig corporate pundits proclaim their botched narratives for a few days before I weigh in on all of that and also discuss more about the Oklahoma election results. Right now, I’m politically exhausted and, like many of you, I’m extremely discouraged. But I’m not defeated. I’m not giving up.

Right before I sat down to write this, I looked out a big bay window in my house and saw a beautiful mum in a planter on my porch basking in the sun on one of those few perfect weather days in Oklahoma. The leaves in the trees fallen in my yard have turned into magnificent, extreme colors. It’s a beautiful day here despite all of the madness of Trump and this last presidential campaign, despite Oklahoma’s continued descent.

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It Matters: Please Vote Tomorrow

There was apparently heavy turnout in the recent early voting in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area with some folks on social media reporting they had to wait in line for more than two hours to vote Saturday.

But now it’s on to the big day. Tuesday, of course, is general election day. If you haven’t already voted early or absentee, tomorrow is your chance. Here’s the Oklahoma State Election Board Online Voting Tool. You can use it to find your precinct and a sample ballot. Take some time to go through the ballot before you show up at your polling place.

I’ll go over my recommendations one last time.

Vote “No” on State Questions 776, 777 and 790. All these questions do nothing but create opportunities for lawsuits. They can’t even qualify as “but-it-makes-me-feel-good” measures for some right-wing people because defending the ensuing lawsuits will drain taxpayer money that could be better spent on education. Even The Oklahoman editorial board, a bastion of conservative dogma, urges voters to reject SQs 776 and 777.

Vote “Yes” on State Question 779, which raises the state sales tax by one cent to increase education funding and give teachers raises. Vote “Yes” on State Questions 780 and 781, which aim to reduce prison overcrowding. Vote “Yes” on State Question 792, which would modernize our archaic liquor laws.

Here is my earlier post, which discusses the questions in more detail.

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Yes On SQ 779

I urge everyone to join me in voting yes for State Question 779 in this election.

SQ 779 will raise the state sales tax by one cent and generate more than $600 million annually that will give Oklahoma public teachers a much needed $5,000 raise. Some of the money will also go to public colleges, early childhood education and career training.

It will protect education funding at the state constitutional level, ensure accountability through regular audits and absolutely none of the money will go to salary increases for school superintendents.

Here’s the breakdown on how SQ 779 will work. If you’re still unsure about this question take some time to go through the site. The SQ 779 site is the absolutely best and most thorough political website I’ve ever seen in Oklahoma, and that’s because it’s operated by highly educated people who care about the state’s children and want to see progress.

I know this is a generalization but most of the people opposed to SQ 779 are the ultra right-wing here, such as the creepy and bizarre Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), which advocates nonsensical “trickle down” economics, and my well-intentioned fellow liberals, who believe righteously and honestly that sales taxes are regressive and impact low-income people the most.

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