Stand up, speak out' 

Tea Parties all over the country are calling for change.

At some of the Oklahoma rallies, I asked people: "What specific things, besides rallying, are you doing to bring about change?" The most common response was, "I voted and I e-mailed." Very good, but then I pushed harder: "Did you do anything else?" All I got were blank looks. Then I asked, "Would you be willing to run for office?" Every person had a reason why that was not possible.

Interesting. They say they want choices, but their inability to run limits choice and maintains the status quo.

One way to get more choices is to have new political parties and new, more interesting candidates. We need people who can think both in and outside of a new box. Unfortunately, the "establishment" doesn't want a new box. Neither do most folks who are calling for a return to the old-time principles of the Constitution and a smaller government.

Since I also want a smaller government, people suggest that I join the Republican Party. I reply that I have problems that party. They tell me, "Join anyway and change the party from within." It sounds good, but I know too many who joined a major party and found only frustration. They left and reported that the party is more concerned about protecting itself than serving the electorate.

Maybe this general attitude of protecting the party is why ballot access reform bills have failed to pass for the past 10 years. Pioneering Republicans introduced reform bills but were unable to move the bills forward.

Why? One reason could be because the old Republicans are afraid new third political parties might disrupt the current balance of power. And actually, their fears may be valid.

The bizarre shapes of many political districts as they were gerrymandered 10 years ago were supposed to protect the parties. Now, too many independents are in the districts. Today, it is possible for independents to upset the old balance of power in elections in 29 different House Districts.

For example: in House District 9, 44 percent of the voters are registered Democrat; 44 percent Republican, 12 percent independent. District 30 has 44 percent Democrat; 45 percent Republican; 11 percent independent. The independents could actually swing the election.

This year's election is also extra important because whoever controls the Legislature controls the upcoming gerrymandering of districts that will follow the 2010 census. Those who decide the district lines can thereby continue to protect both their incumbents and their party now and for the 2016 elections when term limits will result in open seats in one-third of House districts.

Somehow, elections have turned into a raw contest for the balance of power between two parties rather than addressing the real issue " the voice of the individual voter and the unalienable rights endowed by their creator.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. Stand up, speak out. Filing dates are June 7 to 9.

"Richard Prawdzienski

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