All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Where is the party of liberty in Oklahoma?

Statue of Liberty National Monument
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

NORMAN, Okla. – "At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition."  So says Lord Acton, Amen.

As the dust settles and the rubble is swept away, following last Tuesday’s elections, one has to wonder just what was won and what was lost in the wake of it all. Oklahoma has affirmed its status as the Total Red State, but what does that really mean, if anything? The low voter turn out may mean that quite a few Oklahomans didn’t see a clear choice on the ballot, and preferred to spend their time in a more productive manner. The lack of any semblance of choice is due, many believe, to the fact of Oklahoma’s anomalous and highly prohibitive ballot access requirements.

Oklahoma’s ballot access laws are some of the most restrictive in the nation. This year, a new party would need to break a 66,000 signature threshold to become recognized in the Sooner State. According to Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform, signature gatherers have to collect 30-50 percent more signatures than required, due to the ease with which signatures can be invalidated. Retaining ballot access is just as arduous, the party having to retain at least 10 percent of the vote each election cycle. If the party receives less than 10 percent, it must again collect the 66,000 signatures. The 10 percent standard seems even more of a barrier than the signature requirement, since it allows no time for growth in popularity of a young party. OBAR advocates returning to the pre-1974 standard of a 5,000 signature requirement for ballot access, a far more sane policy toward third parties than the current scam.

Why is the two-party duopoly so afraid of voter choice? Is it because that, given a wider range of choices, voters may actually choose a candidate that is a threat to their power? The two parties in Oklahoma fear competition, as do all cronies who retain their power through restrictive legislation. 

The Republicans say all the right words, about “fixing Washington”, the Founders, Constitution, etc. But does it translate into anything tangible? They “support the family, life,” among other things. They are always “for the troops.” They weave their little web of slogans around their campaign with master craftsmanship, ensuring the right heart strings are tugged amongst the throng of voters. 

But what have the Republicans or Democrats to offer those of us that believe there are problems with our state and nation that oblige a response more substantial than a string of slogans? Does the Republican Party have room for a pro-liberty wing in this state, or is it time for liberty activists here to look elsewhere for a political home? 

Where is the party of liberty in this state? Where is the party that advocates the repeal of legislation rather than adding to the pile? Where is the party that advocates progression toward liberty rather than the edge of a cliff? Where is the party that gives Oklahomans a shield against the encroaching surveillance state? Dax Ewbank’s charmingly defiant campaign motto was ‘I’m not afraid of your liberty.’ Where is the party that codifies this sentiment? 

Some liberty activists believe the Libertarian Party is the true home of liberty, while others think that an influential pro-liberty wing can be carved out in the Republican Party. Tina Kelly, Libertarian Party of Oklahoma vice-chair, has this to say about third party ballot access, “Punitive ballot access laws and unreasonable petition requirements are used to shut people out of the political process. Without representation we are basically held captive by the system. We intend to voice the message of, “Let my people go!” until enough people hear it and connect the dots regarding its meaning.” 

Give the voters a real choice, rather than the same choice in either a red or blue package. Maybe it is that many potential voters see that the midterm candidates appeared all too willing to become cogs in the massive log-rolling, spying, warring, debt-increasing machinery of the state, and decided to stay home.  It’s not a far-fetched theory. 

In his seminal essay, ‘Why I Am Not a Conservative’, Friedrich Hayek asks a similar question: where is the party that “favors free growth and spontaneous evolution?” Although Hayek meant something slightly different by the term ‘party’ than how it is used here, the sentiment is the same. He differentiates between modern-day conservatism and modern-day liberalism, and sees the similarities between both. Both are willing to use the organized coercion of the state to achieve their ends. Neither is an option for those looking for the party that is advocating a reduction in coercion, the repeal of vast webs of legislation, the party of innovation and real change.

As long as you have only one real choice, red or blue, in the voting booth, the empty slogans will continue to flow, the establishment candidates will coast into office, and the welfare/warfare state will remain undisturbed and unchained. The permanent structure of unelected bureaucrats that reside in the myriad government agencies will see no alteration to their power or budget.

So if you stayed home and didn’t vote, you didn’t miss much. Liberty wasn’t on the ballot this time around.  

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Shane Smith

Shane Smith is an accountant and freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in economics from...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd
Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK