Oklahoma has cranky lefties, too

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A friend in the New York City metro area writes to congratulate me on Oklahoma's 66% support for President Bush. My correspondent expresses interest in relocating to such a solidly conservative state.

Well, look before you leap. You'll still find some angry, cranky folks in that remaining 34%. Sure, most Kerry-Okies will calmly resign themselves to this reminder of their minority status in a place where most folks are misguided but are nevertheless friendly. Oklahoma and its people may be weird, but Oklahoma is home.

But you have a minority of that minority who are stuck here against their will. NPR on the FM dial, home delivery of the New York Times, Borders, Utica Square, the museums, the opera, the ballet, and the coffee bars (local indies and national chains alike) all help to insulate these folks from the indignity of living in Oklahoma. And just like the most abrasive of the liberal majority in Manhattan, these beleagured Tulsa lefties assume that anyone who is intelligent, anyone who is hip, anyone who shares their love of high culture, good writing, and an expensive cup of coffee must be a liberal, too, like this woman my friend Richard Spears encountered in Starbucks the day after the election. Richard writes:

I met Charlie, our 15 year old, at the bus stop and wisked him to Starbucks for a spontaneous and way-too-infrequent hour of just talking: School, girls, the campaign, faith. Just as I launched into a quick description of a provisional ballot, the gal sitting 5 feet away from us leaned over a asked, "What are you, some sort of politician?" She was a 30 year old wife in a pullover sweatshirt who had been intensely studying her biology notes during the 40 minutes we chatted. I said no, my son and I just try to be informed voters with an open mind.

(As you know, Mike, I would define the right side of the political spectrum were it not for my very real interest in NPR, which drags me half a notch left.)

Then, with hardly a pause to breathe, this stranger, assuming we were fellow left-leaning Democrats (she heard the word "informed" and assumed we were Liberals, no doubt), launched into a diatribe that touched upon:

  1. The fact that the Republican govt assassinated Kennedy.
  2. "That retard, Bush."
  3. "That slimy idiot, Bush."
  4. The exporting of phone bank jobs to PhD's in India working for $6 per hour.
  5. How most Americans refuse to accept the fact of conspiracies throughout the Bush Whitehouse.
  6. How Bush manipulated Kerry into conceding before all the votes were counted - votes that would undoubtably show that Kerry won.
  7. How Jeb Bush stole this year's election by planting an extra million votes in Florida.
  8. How the "wealthy" have too much money and shouldn't be allowed to have any more.

And so on. I sat back with pride as my son quizzed her on her sources ("It's all over the Internet, if you'll just look."), asked how they snuck in the extra votes under the noses of all those Florida poll watchers ("Hey, they are brothers. They have the CIA in their pocket."), why there was no outrage over the Republican assasination of JFK ("The CEO's of the big corporations are running the news."). She said it was great to finally meet a father and son in Oklahoma who didn't adhere to the fundamental Christian fanatics running the state - that most sons simply do just exactly what their fathers do when it comes to politics. I responded, "Yes, I imagine that if I were an evangelical Christian Republican, my son would turn out just like me." "Amen," she replied.

Charlie and I finally extracted ourselves from her discourse and made our way chuckling to our car, which is emblazoned with "Coburn for Senate" and "W-04" stickers. Charlie laughed as he said, "Dad, if she had asked us one single question about what we believed, she would have found out we are exactly the opposite of what she assumed we are, but she never did!" Had she asked - or even paused to listen - she would have discovered:

  1. We are evangelical Christians seeking thoughtful debate in the marketplace of ideas.
  2. We are the wealthy Republicans she abhors.
  3. We, coincidently, employ through our investments several engineers in India (some with PhDs) and are helping them get rich by developing India's domestic oil and gas fields using American capital and Indian brainpower.
  4. We value all human life so much that we try to avoid calling a person a "retard" or an "idiot" who is neither retarded, nor an idiot. I do, however, occasionally use the term "slimeball" when needed.

Charlie also noted that her own points conflicted: How can a "retard" who is also an "idiot" run so silently and efficiently a global conspiracy organization? Mr. Bush would actually have to be a stunning genius to pull that off year after year.

So, enjoy your victory. The battle is won, but the war of ideas rages on. I marvel at the gulf that divides me from my political opponent.

May God have mercy on us all.

Imagine what the woman would have said if she had discovered that Richard once worked for Halliburton!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 5, 2004 5:48 PM.

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