I will freely admit disappointment over the election results this past Tuesday. It was not the outcome I wanted or expected. But, after some reflection I have come to realize the conservative ideology I believe in was not rejected by the voters. In fact, it was embraced. Further explanation is likely needed here.
Some readers of my blog may be unaware of the meaning behind the name I selected - OK Politechs. I received a message once asking if I thought that the politics of the day were 'okay'. No, the OK in my blog title is for Oklahoma, where I have lived all my life and where the true winner in Tuesday's election became clear, that being true economic conservatism.
On a national level it's no secret that the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, was no conservative. He's one of the liberals in the party who masquerades as something more palatable. Compared to Obama, he may have seemed like the next best thing to Ronald Reagan, but in reality his conservatism was as real as the Easter Bunny. The fact that Romney received fewer votes than John McCain is an indication that he did not excite the Republican base. The turnout, or lack thereof, cost him the election. I believe the reason for that is that too many people either weren't convinced of his conservative bona fides or just outright believed him to be a liberal in disguise. The result was the same - another four years of Barack Obama. Is Romney more conservative than Obama? Absolutely. But that isn't enough to get the Republicans to the polls.
It's a different story here in Oklahoma. Considered by many 'progressives' in the nation to be a backwards state filled with a bunch of bible-thumpers, the economic picture here in our state would indicate to me that the progressives are completely clueless about how to achieve true economic growth.
Before getting to the results of the election on Tuesday some background needs to be given. Since statehood in 1907, only four Republicans have been elected Governor and the Democrats had complete control of the legislature until 2004 when the Republicans took control of the House. The Republicans took control of the Senate in 2008 for complete legislative control.
The economic situation in Oklahoma is likely what shifted legislative control to the Republicans. Revenues were down, unemployment was up and there were a large number of state departments that furloughed employees because the state budget was in such a mess that there was no money for anything. With the Democrats in control of the legislature and Democrat Governor Brad Henry in office, there didn't seem to be any road to change.
After one hundred years of Democratic control state government had just become way too big, with 616 agencies, boards and commissions as of 2010. When control shifted to the Republicans a great opportunity was born and the Republican leadership set forth a plan for consolidating government agencies and cutting costs. As an example, the ambitious information technology consolidation alone, signed by Republican Governor Mary Fallin last year, has already saved the state $40 million and will eventually save the state $146 million, according to its proponents.
With help from conservative tax policies and efforts to make Oklahoma more attractive to businesses, Oklahoma has been a leader on the reforms that stimulate economic growth. In September this year only three states had a lower unemployment rate than Oklahoma and Oklahoma City's unemployment rate was the lowest in the nation among metro areas with a population of one million or more.
Now back to this week's election. On a national level the Republicans took it on the chin. But here in Oklahoma the Republicans made gains. All Republican held Congressional seats were kept and the Republicans snatched the 2nd District seat away from the Democrats, making Oklahoma's entire Congressional delegation Republican. In the state legislature the Republicans gained two more Senate seats for a 36-12 majority and two more House seats for a 72-29 majority. The election results for Oklahoma Republicans just added to the historic sweep in 2010 when the GOP won every statewide office up for election, including Governor, giving them control of all eleven statewide offices.
What makes these Republican gains even more noteworthy is the disparity between the registered voters for each party. The Democrats have 950,223 registered voters and the Republicans have 873,351. And yet somehow, the Republicans have garnered total control over the state government and the Congressional delegation. How did they do it? With a simple, easy to understand plan called economic conservatism.
When Mary Fallin ran for Governor in 2010 she pledged to "right size" government, eliminate waste and make government more efficient and effective. Governor Fallin and the Republicans in the legislature are doing that and the voters have made it clear they like what the Republicans in state government are doing.
The new Speaker of the House for the Oklahoma legislature will be T.W. Shannon, a black Republican. Upon being elected Speaker by the Republican caucus he said, "We’re looking forward to a great session where we continue our pro-growth, conservative policies that we’ve advanced for the last four years and continue to build upon the momentum that we have." He also said a plan to reduce Oklahoma's income tax is one of the items at the top of the list for discussion.
The Republicans in Oklahoma clearly recognize the path to economic prosperity for our state and are doing their best to make that happen. Economic conservatism includes making sure government isn't bloated and inefficient. Republicans at the national level should follow their example. Speaker Shannon also said, "If reform is going to happen in this country it will be at the state level." Apparently so, since even the Republicans at the national level have no interest in true economic conservatism.
For contrast, one need look no further than California, which is completely controlled by Democrats, who have amassed $103 billion in gross tax-supported debt. But here in Oklahoma, conservatism won big on Tuesday and as a result, our economic prosperity will continue to lead the nation.