“It is not the critic who counts;
Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
Who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
But who does actually strive to do the deeds;
Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
Who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
And who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
So that his place shall never be with those cold and
Timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I’m often asked why I’m running as a candidate for the Oklahoma House District 45 seat, especially as an Independent. I understand the concern behind their question. I also understand the questions behind that singular question.
Why would anyone intentionally choose to run for a political office of any kind in today’s highly charged climate? The very nature of politics has changed over the past few decades, creating a climate of distrust, dismay, and absurdity. Both parties, Democrat and Republican have fractured into multiple different factions that are vying for power and attention. As a result, voters are becoming apathetic about the entire process.
As an Independent, my objective seen as that much more absurd. An Independent has never won a State-level office in the State of Oklahoma. On the national stage, an Independent is seen as a utter lost cause and strictly only as a spoiler for one party or the other.
And why would I want to subject myself to the unusual nature of today’s voting public? The questions that are asked come from a wide variety of personal interests and opinions. There never seems to be that “right answer,” whatever that really means. Then there are the trolls who populate social media and see their sole objective as holding the candidates to some level of authenticity even if it’s only their own definition of authenticity.
Given these challenges and concerns, why in the world am I running?
Because change happens, as President Theodore Roosevelt so eloquently writes, “in the arena.” He writes, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…” In spite of the odds, in order to be part of helping to bring great change to the challenges we face today, it must be fought in the midst of the arena. While there is a platform for elevating the conversation, the fight cannot truly be fought outside the arena on social media. While our voices can be loud, proud and exquisite, the fight must be brought to the floor of the Capitol rather than just in the streets.
The legendary stoic and Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, writes, “The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” To run for any office, one must truly maintain an untroubled spirit in the midst of the storm, otherwise known as a campaign. It will be filled with fits and starts, with success and failure. But a steady head and heart are required to endure to the end.
Most of all, however, we must face the nature of the challenge squarely in the face and know the challenges for what they are. And the challenges that Oklahoma faces simply don’t scare me. They don’t intimidate me. Certainly they require a bold and audacious effort to address them, but, no, they don’t frighten me.
What scare me? When people choose to not dare greatly. It concerns me that we have created a culture in Oklahoma where we appear, at least on the surface, to be “fine” and “okay” with how things are. It’s as if we’re resolved to the fact that this is just the way Oklahoma is; love her or leave her, Oklahoma will just make do.
Oklahoma, we aren’t fine; we aren’t okay. The challenges facing us are diverse and multi-faceted.
- It isn’t okay to pay our teachers less than a livable wage.
- It isn’t okay to underfund education to the point that basic resources such as text books and teaching materials are not available to every child who attends school.
- It isn’t okay that we pay extremely high health insurance rates causing families to choose between the light bill and the health insurance. For business owners to put off expansion opportunities or hiring new additional staff because the escalating cost of health insurance premiums might put them out of business.
- It isn’t okay that our revenue base, as a State, is limited and our opportunities to recruit new talent to Oklahoma are primarily limited to the Oil & Gas sector.
- It isn’t okay that our economy hinges on whether oil is selling for $51 a barrel versus $49 a barrel.
- It isn’t okay to be the number one State in America in terms of per capita population in our prison system. Seriously? Out of State of 4 million people, one of the smaller States in the country and we’re number one in prison inmates? That alone should piss you off!
- It isn’t okay that the Legislature has consistently stripped money from our Department of Transportation minimizing the affect this department can have on improving our State’s roads and bridges. We are one bridge away from disaster and when, not if, when it happens, it will be our State government that is at fault for the deaths that occur.
- Lastly, it’s not okay to have a leadership team in the Department of Human Services that apparently can’t read an accounting spreadsheet to know how much funding they actually have. Or they are so disorganized they can’t get accurate information. Regardless, it’s a lack of leadership in the DHS of Oklahoma that has left our children hungry and sick due to cuts in Sooner Care and our elderly unsure about tomorrow because of unending threats to the State’s Advantage Program. To cause harm and to bring fear to the youngest and eldest of our citizens is simply immoral.
The arena is the Oklahoma State Capitol. The fight is expansive and it will be fierce. There is a clarion call for citizens to dare greatly, rise up to take the fight to the arena and battle for change in Oklahoma. And trust me, daring greatly is not said nor written lightly. It is a risky proposition and certainly not for the faint of heart.
So when I’m asked why I am running, the answer is clear and the choice is succinct. We are far better and far greater then our current leadership has shown us to be as a State. I truly believe in the tremendous tradition of the Oklahoma Standard that has shown time and again that when our people are hurting and need help, we rise up. And we rise together. Because we are far greater and far more powerful as a State when we rise together and dare greatly to do amazing work.
I am running because I know what we’re capable of and I intend to fight on our behalf to help elevate Oklahoma to greatness.