Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” As an Oklahoman, I would define insanity as “electing the same officials over and over and expecting change.” Most Oklahomans express disapproval of career politicians like Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden, yet it seems as if that same sentiment disappears when the name on the ballot resides within the Sooner State. Officials like retiring Sen. Jim Inhofe and current Rep. Frank Lucas have respectively spent 26 and 28 years representing Oklahoma on the national stage. So how is it that many of Oklahoma’s representatives have decade long careers, when their constituent’s express disapproval of career politicians?
Upon discussion with many fellow Oklahomans, it boils down to a common answer: familiarity. Researching challengers can be a daunting task, especially when some primary elections can have as many as 5+ candidates vying for the same seat. Sure, many Oklahomans may disagree with many of their representatives’ views, but at least it’s a familiar face.
With the primaries just around the corner on June 28, I wanted to offer some tips to make the task of researching candidates a bit easier.
• Actions speak louder than words: Every candidate makes claims and promises on the campaign trail that sound amazing, but do their actions reflect that? Every politician who has previously served in office has a voting record. These records are how to find out if representatives have kept the promises they have made to their constituents. A great website to use is www.govtrack.us.
• Follow the money and see where it goes: The Federal Election Commission tracks every donation made to a candidate. Want to know who may hold power over a representative? Check the FEC database to see who is donating to campaigns. Special interest groups, corporations and political action committees wield great power over future legislation through financial contributions.
• How are things at home: The simplest yet most important action is self-reflection. In the time that your representative has been in office, have things improved in your state, district, county or hometown? If yes, then maybe it’s best if they win reelection. If no, it may be time to start looking into other candidates.
Overall, it is detrimental to the future of our state for Oklahomans to be uninformed when they step into the booth in a few short weeks. I pray that all Oklahomans will research the candidates on their ballots and be ready come June 28. Our brightest days still lie ahead of us. I hope to see you at the polls!
Cailby Perez is a resident of Cheyenne, Oklahoma.