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Washington Should Heed Oklahoma's Example

June 6, 2008
Weekly Columns

When I think about the contrast between the condition of our state and the condition of our country, I am reminded of the famous line from Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."           

Like most Americans, I recognize that Washington is broken right now and people are demanding fundamental change.  And the contrast between the government of the state of Oklahoma and that of the United States Congress could not be more striking.  Washington would do well to take a page from Oklahoma's book and begin to work cooperatively for the best interests of the country rather than engage in pointless partisan posturing.

While things aren't perfect in Oklahoma, times are good.  Our economy is strong, jobs are plentiful and the quality of life is high. We have our political differences, but we manage to work them out in a spirit of give and take.

In our nation's capitol, however, things are not good.  Nationally, our economy is going through a rough patch.  We know we have serious challenges like high gasoline prices, illegal immigration, a budget out of balance and a looming entitlement crisis.  And the Liberals who control Congress today have either failed or refused to act on these challenges.   They have failed to pass meaningful energy legislation.  They have refused to even discuss the issue of illegal immigration.  They have repeatedly attempted to increase rather than lower spending.  They have avoided addressing the spiraling costs of health care and entitlement spending.  And when funding measures for our troops in the field are advanced it is usually layered with unrelated pork, ill-conceived time lines and artificial withdrawal dates.
The difference between how things are going in Oklahoma and what is happening in Washington DC is not accidental.  It stems from the values held by the average Oklahoman and those of the leaders of the liberal majority that currently controls the Congress of the United States.  The average Oklahoman believes that if hard work is to be rewarded, taxes must be kept low.  They know you cannot spend more than you make.  They know that problems must be confronted and not postponed.  And they believe spending must be prioritized so that precious dollars are directed to the most pressing needs.  These are values that seem to be forgotten in our nation's capitol and that is why Americans are so upset with our current Congress and so anxious to see change in Washington. 

Unfortunately, the current leadership of Congress is unlikely to change the way they do business.  I strongly share the prevailing opinion amongst most Americans that Washington must change if America is to move forward.  And when that change finally occurs, our country's leaders should look to the Sooner state to see how elected officials can debate the major issues of the day, disagree without being disagreeable and take care of the peoples' business all at the same time.