The rise of the reasonable majority 

For 30 years, Americans have watched " or supported " a march toward larger military budgets, deregulation of banking and finance, support for global trade and the exodus of tens of millions of American jobs to poor countries, relaxing of corporate responsibility to the environment and workers, tax cuts for the rich and budget cuts for programs helping the vulnerable and a series of foreign military adventures.

In Oklahoma, the drift has been toward government controlled by narrow religious and political perspectives. Gone are mental health facilities and drug and alcohol treatment centers, resulting in greater costs as addicts and the mentally ill wind up in prison.

Oklahoma incarcerates more women per capita than any other state in the world. Our public schools, once excellent, and teachers' salaries, are cut to the detriment of our children's education and future.

Our state had laws prohibiting gay marriage but passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage " a strategy that turned our Legislature over to radical right-wingers. They have now passed half a dozen laws thrusting government between every woman and her personal reproductive decisions.

The reasonable majority reels before this small vision and mean politics. We seek a world in which nations collaborate to protect the planet and government exhibits concern for all people; where the rich graciously pay their fair share to support a civil society; where everyone has reasonable access to health care and a dignified retirement; where people of all races, cultures and religions are welcomed; where corporations meet responsibilities to the environment and workers; where banking and finance are regulated to prevent economic meltdowns that destroy savings and retirement hopes.

The reasonable majority is realizing that participating in the care and oversight of government is essential to shaping the world they envision. They are taking heed from the words of Benjamin Franklin after the Constitutional Convention in 1787. To a questioner he said, "It's a Republic, if you can keep it."

"Nathaniel Batchelder
Oklahoma City

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