A lot of folks, myself included, have commented on the lack of leadership among our state legislature and other statewide elected officials. That deficiency has been highlighted repeatedly this year by the legislature's fledgling attempts to fix the budget. From the Governor's highly unpopular plan to tax services to the recent communication break down among legislative leaders, the people responsible for guiding our state's financial well-being have left the public feeling, well...honestly, pretty scared about the future.
That's not leadership
Leaders shouldn't make you feel scared about the future. Real leadership is making others feel confident and inspired. Leadership is being able to clearly articulate a vision for the future, identify the objectives necessary to make that vision come to life, and encouraging others to join you in the pursuit. True leaders pursue that vision relentlessly, and their legacy is defined by their achievement.
Be thou my vision
Oklahoma needs a new vision. We need something to believe in - something bigger than ourselves, bigger than this perpetual budget hole, and bigger than our reliance on the oil and gas industry. We need to believe that we're better than being 49th, that we're not just some flat, one-party, "flyover state" who can't do anything right besides play football, survive tornadoes, and try to overturn Roe vs Wade every other month. Oklahoma needs to get its groove back.
Oklahoma has a diverse population, a diverse economy, and a diverse ecosystem. We have a rich, storied past of hard work and overcoming hardships. We're a unique blend of rugged individualism that formed strong communities. We're smack in the middle of America's compass, right at the crossroads of where East meets West and North meets South. Far too often we act like that means we don't know where we belong, but I think it's time we recognize that the middle is a pretty cozy place where many Americans want to be. Oklahoma has got to stop comparing itself Texas and get out from under the shadow of the Lone Star; we need to recognize our own self-worth and embrace our Oklahomaness. Once you realize you're not the ugly duckling; being a swan is a whole lot easier. We need to embrace the vision that Oklahoma is successful and desirable, and the sooner we start believing that, the sooner we'll all be acting like it's true.
What do you want your legacy to be?
What happens in the next two weeks will define the legacy of Oklahoma's 56th legislature. I can guarantee their legacy won't be how many abortion resolutions they passed or how many times they vowed not to support something Obama said or that they voted to allow us to hunt wild hogs from helicopters. It will be this moment, right here, right now, when they choose to either pursue a vision for healthy, growing, thriving Oklahoma, or when they choose to do nothing, turning their back on their fellow Oklahomans in harmful, cold neglect.
Oklahoma's state leaders need to decide what kind of legacy they want to leave behind. If they're simply content with being known as the ones who cut corporate income taxes or filled up the Rainy Day Fund, then folks - we need to elect better leaders. We need leaders with a passion and vision for the future. Oklahoma deserves leadership that will inspire us and unlock that greatness that we all know is living deep down inside. We need leaders who want to leave a legacy of prosperity, of greatness, of success. Not for themselves, but for Oklahoma.