Earlier this week, James Mitchell of Oklahoma City had a letter to the editor published at NewsOK. in that letter, James advocated for better alternatives to the current two parties in Oklahoma. In this letter, James calls for more qualified Independent candidates as well as open primaries. He also laments the current voter mentality that has led to where we are today.
Here is James’ letter in full:
I agree with E. Zachary Knight (Your Views, Feb. 3) that there needs to be an alternative for voters other than Democrat, Republican and the tea party for state and national offices. However, in today’s political environment anyone who dares to be an independent thinker who’s not walking in lockstep with party ideology and who has the audacity to put the welfare of the state or nation ahead of the honorless party machines immediately commits political suicide. Voters have helped to create this environment with our excessive thirst for the extreme.
Getting independent candidates who are actually qualified to hold the offices and getting them to run is another major challenge. The Republican presidential primaries of 2012, for example, were a clown show. Fortunately, the only one of that group who was actually qualified did get the nomination. If independents are going to seriously challenge the established political machine, the candidates must be truly qualified to hold the offices they’re seeking.
Allowing open primaries in Oklahoma would be a major feat. In Oklahoma, change to what we’ve always done is hard to accomplish. Even when the benefits of the changes are as bold as the sky, there are still those who would attempt to take us backward. The Oklahoma City mayor’s race this year will be a good example.
In the lead up to the 2014 Legislative Session, we sent in a letter to the editor of NewsOK calling for more Independent voters to run. We highlighted why that is important for the state and for Ballot Access Reform efforts. Today, NewsOK published our letter. Here it is:
Oklahoma needs more candidates to run for office. In recent elections, fewer state legislative seats have received challenges. This means more legislators are getting too comfortable in their seats. When legislators get too comfortable, they stop thinking about what’s best for Oklahoma. Many people are upset with the direction Oklahoma is going, but no one has as much a right to complain as do the independent voters in the state.
Oklahoma has made it extremely difficult for independent voters to make their voices heard, form their own political parties and run their own presidential candidates. We’ve not had an alternative party with an alternative presidential candidate in more than 12 years. The Legislature refuses to rectify this problem. If the current Legislature refuses to alleviate the grievances of independent voters, then those voters need to force their hand.
Independent voters need to become independent candidates for the Legislature. Only by becoming candidates for office and running against comfortably seated incumbents will we see a change in the laws blocking alternative parties and candidates. It doesn’t take much to run for office, but by doing so, we can get many issues in front of voters that the major party candidates refuse to address in public. We can become a force for change.
We really hope that Independent voters read this and our other messages and make the choice to run for office.
A copy of this letter was also published at the Tulsa World.