I attended the OU Daily hosted event of “From Red to Blue: The Evolution of Politics in Oklahoma.” The event was a panel composed of 3 politicians and 1 reporter that reports on Oklahoma politics. The members of the panel included former Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, Oklahoma Republican National Convention chairperson Pam Pollard, and Journal Record reporter Catherine Sweeney. Two proctors from the OU Daily asked the panel members various questions about current Oklahoma politics and the future of Oklahoma politics while audience members could participate and ask questions when they wanted too as well.
Most of the discussion was about the current state of public education in the state of Oklahoma. To no surprise to anyone, a lot of the audience participated in this part of the discussion with the teacher walkout ending just a week ago. A lot of the panel gave really good answers and had very well-prepared responses to all the questions from both the proctors and audience. I believe they were all expecting questions about education and prepared well to answer them effectively to satisfy the audience. That is where the problem lies with me, I believe they were all just kind of telling us what we wanted to hear but no real progress was made on education even after the teacher walkout.
The panel also discussed how the state of Oklahoma used to be overwhelmingly Democratic and how it transitioned to Republican. However, as of recently, the state has been transitioning back to Democratic, and the panel shared their viewpoints and thoughts on why this is so. The entire panel agreed on the main reason people have a lot of disagreements with the current status of Oklahoma politics and that is because not enough people go out and vote, especially the younger generation meaning college and high school kids. They really stressed how important voting is and how much of an impact one little vote has on the future of Oklahoma. An example Pam Pollard made was that Democrats have won every single special election in the state of Oklahoma since 2011 even though the state is predominantly Republican. She stressed this is so because in the smaller districts all over Oklahoma, those communities are extremely active in voting while the bigger cities like Norman, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City are not as engaged or involved in the voting process. Another great point was made by former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating when he said it gets us nowhere as a state when a representative that will be representing over 25,000 people is voted into office from only 2,500 votes.
The discussion was extremely informative and interesting. I am not very huge into politics, but this panel helped spark some interest into politics for me. They did a great job of inspiring and wanting us, the younger generation, to go out and vote because we are the future of this nation and our votes matter. I enjoyed listening to the panel and their experience and wisdom and I learned a lot more than I knew on the state of Oklahoma politics and the direction we are headed in as a state.