POSTED ON NOVEMBER 5, 2008:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
Black and White Only
Once again, just as in 2004, I [was] forced to either vote for the lesser of two evils, or abstain from voting. I [could] vote for Barack Obama of the Democrat party, or for John McCain of the Republican party, but I [couldn't] vote for Libertarian Bob Barr, Independent Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, Constitution Party candidate Charles Baldwin, Independent Alan Keyes, nor any of the other, lesser known candidates. No Oklahoman can. In fact, Oklahoma is the only state that will not have any other presidential candidates on the ballot. Oklahoma doesn't even allow write-ins.
I must say, I find this very frustrating. Why am I and others to be denied a candidate who truly represents our views? Other states have eased their ballot access requirements, so why not Oklahoma? Is Oklahoma really such a restrictive and exclusive state when it comes to politics?
I know that you're very zealous of the Two-Party system, but remember that two is only one more than one. As issues like the Iraq war and the financial crisis should make clear, the two major parties really aren't offering us much in the way of policy differences. If democracy is really about the freedom to choose, then why are you restricting our choices so dramatically?
Clearly, having the vote isn't nearly as powerful as being able to select who or what the people are allowed to vote for.
As children, we are raised to believe that we live in a free country, but excessive restrictions and regulations do not constitute freedom, no matter how free one is to complain about them. This is never more obvious than when the restrictions apply to the electoral system. The state constitution promises Oklahomans free and open elections, and every election cycle, you break this promise. The pre-1974 restrictions were tolerable, although they were still restrictions on elections. Since 1974, you've deliberately gone out of your way to make it excessively difficult for third parties to gain ballot access. With tremendous efforts, they have sometimes been able to get on the ballot, but the resources wasted on gaining ballot access ensure that they have little left to spread their message to the voters.
This is nothing but a protection scheme for tired, failed policies that offer nothing new to the voters. Have you not wondered why more and more Oklahomans are registering as Indepedents, instead of staying with the "protected" major parties? Voting in a primary election is no big deal unless you actually care about who the candidate is for a particular party.
I like Oklahoma. I was born and raised here, so it has enormous sentimental value to me. It also has a relatively low cost of living without sacrificing too much in the quality of life. But I fear that your restrictive policies are holding us back, and keeping Oklahomans from being all that they can be.
There is no good reason for Oklahoma to be the worst state in the union for ballot access. It is too late for this election cycle-2008 is practically history, now. But it is never too late to make improvements for the future.
Michael A. Clem
Roger Miller sang a song many years ago entitled "You Can't Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd." Miller's song described one of many things that are not practical. I would add to the list cleaning streets when cars are parked upon them.
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking to work and noticed that DTU's crew was out with a street sweeper and a pickup cleaning up Cheyenne and 5th Street. Cheyenne had cars parked on it from 4th to 6th. One of DTU's guys was using a leaf blower to blow debris off of the sidewalk and onto the street and the cars parked along the street on the east side of the 201 West 5th Street Building. I suspect that some of the owners of the parks parked along the street did not like having dirt and debris blown on them.
I have been and obviously continue to be critical of the amount of effort that DTU expends to keep the downtown streets and alleys picked up and clean. Because I live downtown and work downtown, I often walk to work. I also walk for exercise downtown. As a result, I have a pretty good idea of when and how DTU expends labor to keep the downtown streets and sidewalks clean. I know that DTU has two or three of its employees cleaning up around One Tech Center a/k/a City Hall about every day. Why it takes two employees walking side by side with trash cans with wheels and brooms to clean a sidewalk is a bit of a wonderment to me.
The real problem I see with DTU's discharge of its contractual duty to keep the streets clean is that all of the effort is expended when the street are populated with parked cars. As a result some parts of the downtown streets never get cleaned. This is true on the Boulder from 4th to 6th and Cheyenne from 4th to 6th. As a result, DTU sweeps those streets where daytime weekday parking is not allowed.
Mr. Norton has been reported to have claimed that DTU sweeps the streets downtown at night. In the last 15 years, I have seen a street sweeper sweeping Boulder at night and that was more than a decade ago. It was a large unit with a City of Tulsa logo on its side. Because I live on the 9th Floor of a building located at 7th & Elwood and regularly look out of my living room windows in the middle of the night and never see a street sweeper sweeping the downtown streets at night, I am dubious. If I am correct that DTU does not, if fact, sweep the streets are night when most of the cars would be gone, our downtown streets are never as clean as they could and should be.
Wise Beyond His Years
I thought it was time to update my "looks like" list of politicians. Here we go:
- Sarah Palin looks like the librarian in a porno movie.
- Barack Obama looks like a basketball referee.
- John McCain looks like the guy who passes around the collection plate in church on Sunday morning.
- Joe Biden looks like a semi-successful televangelist.
I'm "Old Guy" and I approve this list.
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