Those ‘in the Arena’ – Citizens in a Republic

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

This is an excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on April 23, 1910 by then-former President Teddy Roosevelt, commonly referred to as the Arena Speech. I believe it goes to the heart of the work done by Oklahomans for Health with their efforts regarding two petitions to change Oklahoma laws ( 
Their first proposal would alter the initiative process to make it easier to submit ballot questions initiated by the people. The Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office concluded their count of that petition last week and it fell short of making the ballot by about 6,000 signatures.
Many were disappointed by this outcome, but I am proud of the effort achieved by the volunteers.  No volunteer-driven petition has achieved making the ballot in our state’s history, but this did not dissuade their dedication. The fact this group came so close speaks volumes to their commitment to see improvements in our system of government by the people. The Oklahomans who spent many hours and quite a bit of personal money to collect signatures are to be applauded for their work to implement a change in the law to allow more input by the general public.
The second petition, the use of marijuana as a medical treatment under the care of a doctor, was trending significantly more on signatures. The reason it was ahead was that not all volunteers were circulating both petitions and the other was an issue not impacting people directly. The count officially began on the second petition last week and the outcome should be determined soon.
No matter the conclusion, I am thankful for the thousands of supporters who signed the petitions to allow Oklahomans the chance to vote on these issues. I am also proud of the hundreds of signature gatherers who worked to see these changes made to our system of government.
I applaud those who are willing, as President Teddy Roosevelt said, to climb into the arena to champion an effort. If we had more fighting the good fight, the outcomes we expect of our government would be significantly better.

Editor’s Note: Joe Dorman served House District 65 as a State Representative for 12 years and was the 2014 Democratic nominee for Governor of Oklahoma. He currently is a board member for Oklahomans for Health. Dorman is an occasional contributor to The City Sentinel newspaper and, an independent online news website covering primarily the government(s) of Oklahoma.