“Nattering Nabobs of Negativity … ”

Oklahoma City – I am sure we all agree that the break in political commercials for a few weeks before the November General Election is a welcome reprieve from the unrelenting negativity.

The persistent negative ads by candidates and special interests on their behalf seemed to reach new heights … or lows, depending on your perspective. It was honestly shocking and disappointing to see so many negative ads.

Even Republicans forgot President Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. This was to prevent intraparty attacks from being used in the General Election against the other party.

Today, political candidates use negativity to incite their base for votes and financial support. No doubt it will be even worse as we approach November 8.

This negativity is not limited to politicians; it spills over to how people view others who hold different political beliefs, even family members. This pervasive rancor has elevated the hostility among friends, neighbors, countrymen, and complete strangers.

Social media has made it worse.

I say this after a fellow Oklahoman, someone whom I consider to be a well-informed and astute individual, decided to brand me a “Socialist” based on my political registration.

This individual has tried to get me to change political parties, but this time I detected that they really believe this wholly inaccurate statement is an accurate description of my political beliefs and not merely an offhand comment.

Those who followed my political career know how wildly off-base such a claim is. In fact, I was often criticized by fellow Democrats for not following “the party line” enough. Some even took to calling me a “DINO,” or Democrat In Name Only.”

I try to find the good in various positions in both major party platforms. The truth is neither side has a monopoly on good ideas.

Personal attacks do not bother me. I fielded far worse when I chose to seek office, even receiving a death threat at my Capitol office, which the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations examined. I am grateful to them for the work they do.

What does disturb me about that inaccurate description now that I am out of politics is that comments like this could hurt my organization’s fundraising ability and efforts to do our job.

The fact is we collaborate extremely well with members of both parties at all levels of government.

I know that one person, no matter how wealthy and connected they might be, likely will not be able to harm our work, but it did give me pause to consider where we are in the world right now when so much relies on reputation, perception, and the concerns about being “canceled.”

None of us should “judge a book by its cover” when it comes to how others are registered, feel on an issue, or which policies they support. Look at the issues candidates champion, the work they do, the quality of their character, and their ability to make decisions based upon merit.

Even if you disagree with someone on an issue, you might agree with another. Look to their motivation and see if your representatives are making choices based on their sincere desire to achieve the greater good.

Having the ability to disagree agreeably as we search for common ground, rather than giving in to the powers of toxic and divisive factionalism, is what we need if we are to make this a better state and nation for future generations yet unborn.

About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. The OICA mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action, and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”