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Musings from Tom Joad Country

Musings from Tom Joad Country


By Sheila Samples

I've been reading about this "grass roots" phenomenon that's sweeping the country. It must not have "swept" down this far, because I scoured the prairies and plains of Oklahoma, and the only thing I came up with was a clump or two of Johnson grass, a few scraggly buffalo and some errant loco weed...

In fact, there's not much movement of any kind in Tom Joad Country. Maybe that's because Oklahoma has always been, or at least has had the reputation of being, not only poor but backwards both intellectually and culturally. If I were so inclined, I could probably debunk this fallacy, but I'd have to start in Tulsa and move east...

People west of Tulsa aren't too concerned with politics. We get involved and come alive for only a couple of things -- A six-pack of Bud Light and OU football. Tulsa denizens like to think of themselves as "cosmopolitan" and politically hip, but they have a tendency to look at issues through an oil prism. That's why we always end up with Stupid White Men like Don Nickles, Jim Inhofe, and Tom Cole. When you think about it, I guess it serves us right...

Okies are independent and "don't want the damned government bleepin' around in their business..." Their political ideology is based on this ONE issue -- Republicans want smaller government; ergo -- they vote Republican. They also have a tendency to believe whatever it is that the last person -- usually a preacher - -says to them. Since Democrats have no voice in Oklahoma, Okies believe Republicans and vote Republican.

I do not understand, however, how the elderly -- most of whom would have starved to death if it had not been for President Roosevelt and the Democrats -- could ever vote Republican. But in Oklahoma, they do, and are dadgummed proud of it.

I do not understand how any military -- and we have a large military presence throughout the state -- could vote Republican. Most military, especially lower enlisted, are in the services as a direct result of being unable to make a living anywhere else. The US military is the largest welfare program in the world. Lifers, such as Colin Powell, have never received a paycheck that wasn't drawn on the US government. Powell, and so many others like him, would not be where they are today if it had not been for government "affirmative action."

The same with civil servants -- government paychecks and retirement bennies come directly from Uncle Sam. I should know. Like Powell, I devoted my entire working life to the government and, although I don't make out like a bandit every month, thanks to Sam I can afford to put food on my family. But in Oklahoma, most of these retired military and civilian folks enthusiastically support programs that cut their own livelihoods -- literally foreclose on their children's future -- by voting Republican...

If we have a grass roots movement in Oklahoma, it is fueled by militant Christians -- mostly southern Baptists who have no clue about the intricacies of politics, but are told by their Christian right-wing brethern that Democrats are whoremongers who think every woman should have an abortion whether she wants one or not, and the gays are coming after their children. This is enough to drive them to the polls to vote Republican.

Okies love America, they love their born-again idiot president, and they are proud to be blind and brazen warriors in God's Very Own Army. Together, they and Bush are proudly in lockstep -- insanely marching to Zion...

But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

*********

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at: rsamples@sirinet.net. © 2006 Sheila Samples

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