Rekindling Rural Oklahoma: A Democratic Path to Community Revitalization By David Roberts
Rural Children in Southeastern Oklahoma (Present Day)
As a social scientist, former political operative, public servant, and historian, I've spent my career immersed in the ebb and flow of American politics. And, as I gaze uponthe political landscape of my home state, Oklahoma, it's clear that the Democratic Party faces a unique challenge in rural areas. Yet, it's a challenge we're ready to embrace, not merely for electoral gains, but more importantly, to enhance the quality of life in these communities.
In rural Oklahoma, politics is as much about kinship and community as it is about ideology. The voice of rural communities has often felt stifled, with legitimate concerns overshadowed by urban-focused agendas. To address this, the Democratic Party needs to foster genuine, long-lasting relationships rooted in understanding and respect for rural Oklahomans.
We must prioritize local community engagement, listening to the people’s needs, hopes, and fears. This strategy requires patience and dedication, but I firmly believe that a bottom-up approach to politics is more fruitful than a top-down one. Local party officials should be immersed in these communities, participating in everything from county fairs to school board meetings.
Next, let's address the economic plight faced by many rural communities. Years of shifting economic tides have left scars on rural Oklahoma. We must champion innovative economic policies that create opportunities, such as supporting entrepreneurship, small businesses, and sustainable farming.
Additionally, expanding broadband access is crucial. In today's interconnected world, it can offer rural communities an equal footing, providing access to e-commerce, remote work opportunities, and telemedicine services.
Education also deserves our keen attention. The success of rural Oklahoma is directly tied to the success of its schools. Improving funding, retaining quality educators, and investing in trade and technical education will be instrumental in empowering the next generation.
It's important that we build our platform to emphasize policies that are beneficial to both urban and rural communities. Climate change, for instance, affects us all, and although it's popular to deny its existence in rural areas, doing so is flat out failed leadership. True leadership provides its people with what's best for them and not necessarily what's popular. Accordingly, we must. E brave enough to commit to environmental policies that mitigate its impact while fostering job creation in industries like clean energy.
Healthcare is another area where our party's policies align with the needs of rural Oklahomans. Expanding access to affordable healthcare and addressing the shortage of rural healthcare providers are issues that resonate deeply within these communities.
As we endeavor to revive the Democratic Party's influence in rural Oklahoma, it's crucial that we don't view these communities merely as voting blocs to be won over. Instead, we should see them as vibrant communities, steeped in rich traditions and values, yet eager for progress and growth.
The Democratic Party can and should be the party that champions the needs of rural Oklahoma. Let's not solely focus on winning elections, but rather, on making a tangible difference in the lives of the people. This approach will not only bring about a Democratic resurgence in rural Oklahoma but also foster a future where every Oklahoman, regardless of their zip code, feels heard, represented, and cared for.