Fear and Loathing in Oklahoma

Ok, the Republicans took the House. Media worldwide are busy analyzing the consequences of this national shake-up. Yet some of most interesting trends can be found in the less publicized election results on local and state level.

Take the ballot measures in Oklahoma. Apart from voting for the Senate, House and Governor (all but one House seat overwhelming victories for the Republicans), voters were asked to give their opinion on no less than 11 specific proposals. And they did. The people of Oklahoma voted against mandated health care (64.7%), in favour of making English the language of official state actions (75.5%) and to forbid use of international law or sharia law in state courts (aka the “Save our State” amendment) (70.0%).

So this is what “taking back the country” looks like: trying very hard to keep out any federal or foreign influences. What could be consequences? If states can indeed reject the federal health care bill, which is still an open debate, many poor Oklahomans will likely lose their insurance, again. Making English the official language of state actions will make it more difficult for non-English (read Spanish) speakers to access government services. And prohibiting courts from looking “to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures” will not only complicate the work of judges, it might also deter international business from entering the state, as it creates uncertainty about the enforceability of international contracts or judgments of foreign courts and tribunals.

Some other states demonstrated similar tendencies. In Kansas, voters found it necessary to guarantee the right to bear arms (88.6%). Arizona joined the protest against mandated health care (55.4%). On the other hand, the rally against “Obamacare” seems not to have been successful in Colorado (with 88% of the votes counted, 52.8% voted against prevention of mandated health care). Hopefully, these remain local outbursts of paranoia – listening to the ads and speeches of Republican victors last night, they might not be.

 

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