You All Look the Same to Me

Kaye Beach

May 19, 2011

This is what two ladies who were collecting signatures for a petition at the capitol were told by an irate Republican Representative yesterday.

It also recalls the treatment of a variety of petitioners for the discharge of another bill earlier this session.  Many were treated to rude remarks by legislators who lumped them all together regardless of whether or not they had anything to do with other activists that the legislators were irritated with.  It was clear to me then the “us against them” mentality.  This attitude is very concerning as most people want to work reasonably with their legislators and do not deserve this kind of response.

Yesterday, Rep. Don Armes, upset over calls to his office made by the Sooner Tea Party’s Al Gerhart unleashed his fury on the two women in the House Lobby in front of a large number of astonished onlookers consisting of Capitol staff, lobbyists and visitors.  The tirade lasted for several minutes and despite protests from the pair of signature gatherers that they have no control over the actions of other activists,  Armes continued with his finger in the face tirade against Gerhart saying  “You all look the same to me!”

One petitioner gave up and walked away from the scene while the other calmly tried to bring the outraged Rep’s attention back to the issue at hand to no avail.  Full disclosure-I was the one that walked away from the  abuse.

I think  that this eruption actually demonstrates one of the reasons that HR 1004, dubbed the Key open government rule, is so necessary.

Rep. Armes later apologized to me and explained that the legislators are operating under a great deal of pressure.   I do understand that our Representatives are under an enormous amount of pressure.   Is it possible that some of this pressure I believe could be relieved by a simple change of rules?

(read more about the Key amendment and the discharge petition effort here and here)

As it stands now, bills are denied a fair hearing before legislative committees prior to ever making it to the floor of either House often because a few people in leadership positions simply don’t want them to.

The people of Oklahoma elect their representatives well. . . to represent them. The current process denies representation to thousands through the voice of their elected representative which leaves pressure tactics as one of the few avenues open to get a bill unblessed by leadership to a fair hearing.

This legislative session has been marked by unprecedented bitterness in large part due to minority members’ legislation being shut out.

HR 1004 seeks to remedy this by providing a process by which bills can all be offered before a committee for consideration before being delegated to the legislative waste bin by the opinion of one.

The insult to Oklahoma voters committed  by Rep.  Armes yesterday is by no means the only contentious event that Oklahoma taxpayers have been treated to this session and until our legislators correct their rules to make them more evenhanded and transparent, it certainly won’t be the last.

9 responses to “You All Look the Same to Me

  1. latitude38

    kaye, great article, whether it’s oklahoma or california they” all look the same” to me as well

  2. Roy N. Chester

    tell me again why we need a govnment

  3. Doug Blaine

    Kaye, sad to say you experienced the political spoils system of government. As a former political science instructor/observer and government administrator I can relate first hand to these types of tactics. The legislators , local, state , federal seem to forget how they arrived at the lofty position , and why. Actions such as these only perpetuate the concept of throw the bums out. By the way I do not support mandated term limits except on executive offices. I reserve the right to elect or oust my representatives according to performance. The issue of power in our legislature should be controlled by rules in the respective body, ie all bills should be heard in committee!!!!!!!!!!! Just may require legislators to read them at least one time!!

  4. Keep up the good work…

  5. Thanks for all your work!

  6. Pingback: You All Look the Same to Me | don't tread on cat

  7. Doug,
    Thank you for your comments. I think it is interesting that you used the word “tactics” which would imply that rather than a momentary lapse of reason it was, if not purposeful, then at least directed. I have always considered myself to be pretty good at getting a read on people and maybe in the real world I am….in the political one? I’m out of my league.

    You are not the only one who has suggested as much though.

  8. We have a name for political philosophies in which everyone is the same, there are no individuals, people are just ciphers helplessly turning the wheels, obeying the laws of history, government must treat them as objects and not subjects — we call them “socialist”. What does Mr Armes call them? “Democratic?”

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