The Elephant in the OK GOP’s Living Room

Elephantmary

Officials in the Oklahoma Republican Party are still in denial about the September loss of a perpetually GOP-held seat in a special election for House District 85. At recent county and state GOP meetings, I heard the often-repeated mantras that the Democrat “outworked” the Republican, that more “liberals” are moving into the district, and that the Carter campaign thought they could just cruise to victory in this “safe” seat. They either don’t see, or don’t want to address, the real issue, the elephant in the living room.

My perspective on HD 85 is unique. I ran for the seat twice, once losing as an Independent in 1976, and again winning as a Reagan Republican in 1982. I received 63% of the vote in a district with a majority of registered Democrats. I’ve kept a watchful eye on that district since. Subsequent GOP Reps in that seat were Mike Hunter, Mary Fallin, Odelia and David Dank. All did a good job representing their district.

So what happened? Is it really so simple that Cyndi Munson, an energetic, personable liberal Democrat just “outworked”political veteran and insider, conservative Republican Chip Carter?

Let’s look at some facts.
HD 85 Voter Registration:
R – 12,159 50%
D – 8,870 37%
I – 2,920 13%

2014 Munson vs. Dank General Election:
Munson (D) – 5,135 – 43.7%
Dank (R) – 6,635 – 56.3%

2015 Republican HD 85 primary:
Carter 1,027 – 37%
Crawford 806 – 29%
Jackson 536 – 19%
Palumbo 400 – 15%
Total: 2,769

2015 Munson vs Carter Special Election:
Munson (D) – 2,656 – 54%
Carter (R) – 2,272 – 46%
Total: 4,928

2015 Munson vs Carter Composition of Voters by Party Affiliation:
2,674 – Republicans
2,029 – Democrats
225 – Independents
4,928 – Total

What conclusions can we draw?

1. By party registration, this should be a safe GOP seat. It has been Republican for at least 50 years.
2. In 2014, Dank won with 56%, well over the 50% Republican registration. He was unopposed in 2012, won with 58% in 2010 and 55% in 2008.
3. In 2015, if ALL Carter’s general election votes were Republicans, then 402 of Munson’s votes were Republicans. A minimum of 15% of the Republicans voted Democrat.
4. There was a significant drop off in Republican voters from the primary to the general election, with 497 fewer primary-voting Republicans bothering to vote. Since Carter probably got some Democrat and Independent votes, there were even more Republicans who voted Democrat.
5. So, many Republicans who voted in the primary, either chose NOT to vote in the general, or they crossed over and voted for the Democrat. That is the elephant in the living room. The question is: Why?

As a rule, Oklahoma Republicans have to have good reasons to vote for a Democrat, especially in the “reddest of the red states.” What might those reasons be?

Munson is apparently a personable, hard worker. She was able to concentrate her efforts on converting Republican and Independent votes, while doing the basics to secure her Democrat base. She received almost 44% of the vote just six months prior to filing. But that doesn’t explain the crossover. In normal times, Carter should have been able to secure the Republican base and concentrate on winning over conservative Democrats and Independents, as all previous Republican candidates have done. But that didn’t happen. Why?

The truth is that the Republican crossover vote was less a vote FOR Munson and more a vote AGAINST Carter, and what he represented in the minds of the crossover voters. It was a vote against politics as usual by the Republicans.

The Carter campaign seemed to be state-of-the-art for a well-financed Oklahoma campaign. Ethics Commission reports show the Carter campaign spent $189,000 to Munson’s $107,000. Beyond that, at least four “dark money” groups, directly or loosely affiliated with the State Chamber, spent over $73,000 in the primary for Carter. I don’t have reports for after June 30, so the figure was likely much higher to finish the primary, and then the general. Nor do we necessarily know all the dark money groups involved. I have no dark money figures for Munson.

I’ve seen more than 20 mailings, door hangers and push cards for Carter, as well as large ads in the Oklahoman and Friday newspaper. Most have the mandatory photos with family and constituents, with lots of conservative catch phrases and buzz words. Carter also picked up unprecedented primary endorsements from Governor Fallin and Senator Inhofe, as well as by Senator Lankford, Congressman Russell and Mayor Cornett in the general. But the tried and true formula failed.

What turned the tide against Carter was the negative campaigning in the last ten days before the primary. Post cards, flyers, robo-calls and whispers on the doorstep slandered Ralph Crawford and tried to portray him as an Obama-supporting, budget-busting union goon. This was a deliberate misrepresentation of who Ralph Crawford is. At least one negative postcard came from the Carter campaign, while several others came from dark money groups. Indications were that Carter was trailing Crawford before his campaign went to the gutter, creating fear and doubt in the minds of enough voters to get some Crawford voters to switch or stay home.

We also heard reports of a whisper campaign slandering Crawford’s wife, Laura, a two-time Teacher of the Year, in two different school districts. The slander was that she received that prestigious recognition because she was in the teachers’ union. The truth is that she had never been a union member, contrary to most Oklahoma teachers.

While “going negative” is politics as usual, in this case, hundreds of people who knew, trusted and voted for Ralph Crawford, took it personally and supported Munson as a protest vote. I’ve heard many stories of people who were so offended, they chased Carter off their door steps while he campaigned. Many even had Munson signs in their yards, replacing the Crawford signs that were there just weeks before. Munson took full advantage of Carter’s negative campaigning. (Crawford did nothing to add fuel to the fire. He didn’t have to.)

My speculation is that protest votes were also fueled by a combination of disgust with politics as usual and disappointment with the GOP at both the state and local levels. At home, we have a GOP-dominated legislature whose results seem little different from the Democrats who controlled the state so long. Nationally, 62% of Republicans are upset with their own party, helping to account for the Trump phenomenon. Voting for a Democrat is a good way for a Republican to cast a protest vote.

It is worth noting that the reason many qualified men and women choose NOT to run for public office is the treatment that Ralph and Laura Crawford got. Most people are reluctant to subject themselves to the rigors of campaigning, especially when they can expect members of their own party to tear them down rather than run on their own merits. As a result, people more inclined to be politicians rather than principled statesmen run and are elected. Special interests contribute tens of thousands of dollars and expect a return on their investment.

In conclusion, Oklahoma GOP leadership is publicly in denial about the loss of HD 85. The elephant in the living room is numerical: at least 402 Republicans voted Democrat in the general election; moreover, 497 Republicans who voted in the primary stayed home for the general, the opposite of normal behavior. Those are the numbers that need to be explained. Protest votes against the Carter campaign specifically, and the GOP more broadly, is the best explanation.

In my next article, I’ll discuss what the GOP can do to fix this problem, as well as to come together to move Oklahoma forward to a better future.

Disclaimer: I’ve never met or talked with Chip Carter or Cyndi Munson. I met Ralph Crawford in the last few weeks of his primary campaign and have become a good friend. So I have had access to information not otherwise available.

A Realistic Plan to Restore Liberty to America

Eighteen months after the plug was pulled on Ron Porter DavisPaul’s campaign, the Liberty Movement is in disarray. Without the unifying focus of a national campaign, the high level of activism ignited by Paul’s candidacy is gone. Scattered efforts to supply this vision have yet to gel into an effective political force. What follows is a simple, yet powerful, plan of action.

Simply put, the activists in each State need to set a goal to transform their own States into Free States.

This is in line with New Hampshire’s Free State Project, without the need to pick up and move there. With the seeds planted by the Paul campaigns, we have thousands of activists and millions of supporters who can “bloom where we’re planted.” We have family, friends, jobs where we now live. We can start today! (By all means, if you want to move to beautiful New Hampshire, do it!)

The original concept was called the Gold State Initiative. For my own state, Oklahoma, I have distilled these ideas into a vision I call “OK 2.0.” Please feel free to recommend improvements, or to take any, or all, of these ideas and put them to work in your own State. What I’d like to see is a friendly, cooperative competition to see who can transform their own state in to a Free State first. Your comments below are appreciated.

* * * * *

OK 2.0 is a plan to fundamentally transform Oklahoma governments to help the State become an economic, cultural and spiritual oasis. History and theory teach us that humans will reach their highest potential in a condition of Liberty. Real freedom has two fundamental requirements: that individuals live self-responsibly and treat other people according the the Golden Rule. Non-aggression is the legal axiom of such a political-economic system, giving individuals maximum choice while not violating others’ rights to similarly pursue their own interests. Such a system enables and rewards human creativity and initiative, leading to an abundant, fulfilled life. This was the intent of America’s Founders.

With this vision, we can view Oklahoma government much like a real estate developer sees a decrepit, dysfunctional, tear-down building in a marvelous location. Incremental reform is not enough. Rather, we need a rapid, fundamental restructuring based on the principles of Liberty. The current system is unsustainable. The ongoing, accelerating collapse of the national government, is unstoppable.  The States need to reassert their independence, according to the Tenth Amendment, and work for their own economic recovery. The transformation of Oklahoma could spark a national renaissance.

Our task is five-fold:

1. Create a Plan to make Oklahoma the most free State in the nation. OK 2.0 is a bold, easy to understand vision to make Oklahoma a free State. Develop an ever-refining, comprehensive Plan to achieve this goal. Utilize decades of theoretical and historical research by numerous free market think tanks. Enlist the talents of Oklahoma’s best and brightest citizens. We will define what are, and are not, responsibilities of a government funded with tax dollars. Work to efficiently achieve those aims, returning other functions to the private sector.

2. Derive a political Platform from the Plan, and recruit candidates to the Platform. Publicize the Plan and the Platform statewide. Use it to recruit qualified candidates for every political office — state, legislative, county, municipal and schools. Provide political services to help candidates easily learn and execute the basics of getting elected. Be non-exclusive of party affiliation. Rather, based on adherence to principle, encourage candidates to run in the party affiliation that best suits their situation. As a blend of think tank and political operation, OK 2.0 can achieve the goals many want for a third party, without the many obstacles. Use existing party apparatus for expanding Liberty.

3. Develop and execute a strategic marketing plan to shift the political debate toward our objectives. Rapid, fundamental change depends on shifting the way we view government and what is possible. People sense our system is broken. Yet, they have no confidence in Congress or State governments to solve the problem. Our Big Vision is simple to understand, yet bold enough to excite the imagination with a People-serving, Liberty-based government. We will motivate, and empower, a critical mass of awakening people to manifest a better future. OK 2.0 should generate great interest.

4. Restore the Precincts as vital centers of community life. Living in freedom works best when people know their neighbors, living in community of voluntary association. We’ve lost that sense of community in today’s era of mass urbanization and technological solitude. We will implement basic community organizing that goes beyond politics. People need help with gardening, security, benevolence, education and other important areas. Restoring the Precincts as vital areas of political and community assembly is basic to the plan. Ten activists in each precinct could have a major impact on local politicians and community preparedness.

5. Share what we learn with other States. We can leverage our investment in Oklahoma by challenging the other States to follow our lead. A wiki-type database for policy issues and political action will allow us to share what we are learning with others, while we can learn from their efforts. Decentralized action, implemented by activists across the States, can cause rapid change.

Initial Steps to Plan Implementation

Begin Plan and Platform development. Identify the “low-hanging fruit” issues that offer the greatest savings and improved outcomes.  Open up plan development to interns and college students doing directed research. Encourage input.

Start the marketing and recruitment campaign. At the appropriate time, announce the project, its vision and scope. Invite public participation.  Start recruiting and equipping candidates as early as possible. Develop a statewide speakers bureau to take the ideas to Main Streets statewide.

Begin Precinct development. Provide vision and tools for activists to revive and energize their precincts. The effort is non-partisan.

Publicize the project nationally. Challenge activists in other states to a friendly competition to see which States can become most free in the shortest amount of time. Set up a forum and database to share and discuss what works and what doesn’t. Seek maximum leverage of everyone’s efforts.

Staffing. The ideal situation would be to have an effective paid staff to advance and coordinate the efforts of volunteers. A Research Director and a Political Director would develop the Platform, recruit and empower the candidates. Marketing could easily be a full time position. The most likely source of funds would be farsighted entrepreneurs who understand the Crisis and want to give their children and grandchildren a chance to live in Liberty. However, an all volunteer effort can work. Each situation is different.

This Plan will Work! This Plan offers a realistic way to restore Liberty to America. It is of highest importance that we commit to the goal of making our states Free States, with just as much fervor as we committed to Ron Paul. Once that commitment is made, then our creative energies are loosed in pursuit of this noble goal. When we worked in our States for Dr. Paul, we experienced the excitement of working together  to advance Liberty. Transforming our precincts and electing our Liberty Platform candidates to office offers that same possibility, with a high degree of success.

If you want a way to focus the efforts of the movement in your State, I know of no other plan as comprehensive, and simple, as this one. If you do, please let me know, so I can join your efforts. Either way, it’s show time, folks. Time to get going!

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Precinct Leaders Are Community Organizers

Porter DavisWe in the Liberty Movement need to focus  on becoming community organizers in our own neighborhoods and precincts. Grassroots organizing is essential to help us survive this crisis and restore a free society.

Let’s transform our own states into Free States, establishing the principles of Liberty in our metro, county and state governments. Enforce the 10th Amendment. The parties are but a means to an end.

Yet, while Democrats were mobilizing the community organizers who have transformed presidential politics, Republicans were still playing the consultant-driven ad-buy game,” Michael Carnuccio at OCPA, “Saving the GOP.”

 

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The Precinct Leader Mission

“So, what’s your plan, Porter?” Porter Davis

I’ve been challenged with those words often over the years in response to blogs, emails and Facebook posts I’ve written chronicling the deteriorating state of America. Economic collapse, the emerging police state, failed foreign policy, assaults on our health, collapsing morality and internal division threaten our national survival.

We can’t avoid these problems. Their consequences can’t be ignored. We must confront them with effective actions that restore Liberty to America. This website is my answer to the question.

What is the Plan?

We need to do what Americans have always done to survive hard times: We have to come together and organize our neighborhoods and precincts to help each other through this crisis and successfully emerge on the other side.

Our mission is to be proactive change agents instead of helpless victims. We want to influence the outcome toward our founding values – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Intentional, transformational change needs only a dedicated, small percentage of the population to accomplish this goal. The Precinct Leader intends to help you become an active participant in this process.

The Precinct Leader is not primarily about electoral politics. Rather, we intend to help develop your leadership and organizing skills to empower effective local action for mutual aid and support. In a time of social chaos and economic breakdown, providing food, water, medical help, communication and security are important. Political change will flow from those relationships.

Real change starts first with the individual. Gandhi admonished us to “Be the change you want to see.” The basis of liberty is the self-responsible individual living his or her life with integrity, according to the Golden Rule. On that base we each need to take four basic steps.

Get prepared. Hard times are here. The systems we take for granted may be severely disrupted. Store enough food, clean water, medicine and supplies to take care of your family for at least three months. Six months’ supply is even better. As you are able, get extra, because many of your neighbors won’t be ready.

Get organized. Get to know your neighbors and your precinct. Seek kindred spirits. Help wake others up. Each precinct should become a place for education, equipping and fellowship, like the town hall assemblies of old. Monthly meetings with pertinent topics  start the process. Make the meetings non-partisan and open to everyone, even if this is a party effort. People distrust political parties almost as much as they do the politicians.

Get political. Take every opportunity to engage your local politicians. If we take care of business with those offices closest to the people, where we have the most influence, the Federal offices will tend to follow suit. Stop regarding your favorite political party with a religion devotion, blind to its shortcomings. Rather, use the parties to your own advantage to expand Liberty. If you control the precincts, you control the parties.

Be active in non-violent resistance and non-compliance. Learn how to punk the system. Drop out any way you can, while working also to change it.

Transforming the system is not rocket science. But it will take work and commitment by those called to action. If done well, your life will be deeply enriched with a wealth of new relationships and success beyond your imagining.

This site is the beginning of a work in process. I don’t have all the answers, just a vision for what is necessary. Your suggestions and contributions will be helpful. I hope to be sharing many of your stories about what works, and what doesn’t, in the future.

More to follow!

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