There they were on Wednesday. The three arch conservatives seated in a perfect row, facing a crowd of true believers. Former state senator Randy Brogdon, Congressman James Lankford, and former Oklahoma house speaker T.W. Shannon all want to be the guy who moves into Tom Coburn's seat in the United States Senate this fall--and they know what they have to do to win.
The Oklahoman reported, in a story written by, Silas Allen all of them appeared in front of a bunch of tea party types yesterday. Each one in turn claimed he was the most right wing sonofbitch in the entire state. Yes, any sort of move to the center in Oklahoma is down right suicidal. You have to go all Ted Cruz and then some if you want to win a GOP nomination here. That's right baby. Blame the federal government and Barack Obama for everything up to and including the disappearance of Malaysian flight 370. Howl to the moon about the masses on welfare stealing from the hard working few and how we're being overrun by illegal immigrants who don't believe in democracy. And--if the lazy bastards don't earn enough to pay for a hospital stay--fuck 'em--let them die in the streets.
Allen quoted Shannon as saying, "I fundamentally believe we need to get the federal government out of health care." In addition he wants to cut everything except military spending, which he intends to increase. It is a position possibly motivated by the fact, Ft. Sill is the largest employer in his home town of Lawton. Proving he is quite the diplomat the former speaker claimed military cuts have, "...created a situation where the U.S. has lost the trust of it's allies and the fear of it's enemies." That would confirm what we all know, fear is a true democracy's greatest asset. He also said some things about communicating, because--you know--the reason conservatives got their asses kicked twice by Barack Obama is because of a lack of communication, not their politics.
Lankford babbled on about restoring state's rights, which is pretty much the same argument used by Nathan Bedford Forrest in 1861. He has the support of the daily paper and much of the GOP establishment which makes him suspect in the eyes of the far right edge. Despite the inherent mistrust he leads in polls taken of republican voters both in OKC and Tulsa.
Of course mainstream and establishment are relative terms when it comes to guys like these. The Congressman, along with the other two candidates, says he wants the United States to withdraw from the United Nations. Brogdon went further in this exercise of one-upmanship by saying he not only wants us out of the U.N. but the U.N. out of America. According to him, "I think we should shut the United Nations down, run them out of New York City." Then, in an appeal to the elusive Hispanic demographic, he also advocated closing the border with Mexico--entirely--rather like that fine line which separates the two Koreas. He added, "at least until it can be made secure." He didn't go into detail on what his idea of, "secure" is, but the imagination runs wild with the possibilities.
Brogdon is the third place horse in the race. He has a lower statewide profile than either Lankford, or Shannon and probably far less cash. It means he'll have to scream the loudest and play to the fringe by saying things like the federal government wants your first born child for satanic purposes.
Lankford is from Edmond, which is an OKC suburb. If he can win big both here and in Tulsa and stay close in the outback he will probably move to the senate.
Shannon, who is African American and part Native American, has the backing of Chickasaw Chief, Bill Anoatubby and a couple of out of state superpacs which means he should be able to hang with Lankford when it comes to campaign spending. Oklahoma has sent a black man to Washington once before, but it was in the house and he had formerly played quarterback at the University of Oklahoma. Shannon doesn't have that particular credential.
The brutal truth is we're going to be stuck with whichever one of these clowns wins the republican primary. There isn't a democrat alive right now who can win a state wide race in Oklahoma. A decades long right wing media blitz, the rise of the evangelical movement, and an innate, if fuzzy fear of change, has rendered state democrats, real democrats, as relevant as the Woolly Mammoth.
Such is the cruel nature of evolution. It doesn't, however, mean all of us who live here have to like it.
sic vita est