On Nov. 4, 2020, I suddenly saw with my own eyes the depth and breadth of the political corruption myself and others had tried and failed to prevent for so many years.
I am angry. It’s not a passing emotion brought on by a single circumstance. This anger is a deep, painful, abiding anger created by a mix of frustration, despair, hopelessness, and injustice. For decades I have been told to trust American institutions and if I have grievances to work harder to improve them. I have done so, far more than most Americans, and my reward has been watching corruption and ineptitude only increase.
As a public school science teacher in the late 1990s, I watched parents disengage from their children and students gain more power over my classroom every day. I saw administrators allow it to happen and even excuse bad behaviors: “She has a very hard home life; she just needs to blow off steam and we need to give her a safe place to do that. You don’t want her to feel unsafe, do you?”
I saw good teachers leave the profession rather than fight the brewing storm on the horizon that would make them constables instead of instructors, rely more on technology than instruction, and remove their classroom autonomy. So I quit to begin a family.
Concerned about the way the Obama administration was taking control of public education, handing out stimulus checks, and pushing for government-run health care, I helped start a local citizens’ group. I helped bring in candidates for public office to interview and study bills and legislation. I worked with legislators to develop a bill to improve civic understanding by mandating study of U.S. founding documents in high school.
I watched legislators talk to me and my fellow citizen lobbyists as though we were little more than gum on the bottom of their shoes and explain to us why they knew better than we. A legislator told me voters sent him to the capital to make laws, and I watched a scowl darken his face when I told him, “No, voters send you to the capital to protect their liberty, which often means repealing laws.”
I watched legislators lie to my face about the status of bills and why they wouldn’t vote for them. I became frustrated and disillusioned with legislators and the entire civic system and quit.
On Sept. 12, 2009, I went to our nation’s capital for the Taxpayer March on Washington. It was amazing to flood the streets of Washington D.C. with hundreds of thousands of other human beings, knowing I wasn’t the only person concerned about the state of the union, its history and trajectory.
Although we left the Washington Mall cleaner than we found it, we came home to hear that not only had corporate media downplayed and lied about the numbers of participants, but according to them we were all middle-America yokels who knew little beyond what we could dig up in our corn fields. We were called disgusting names, criticized, denigrated, and smeared by even President Obama himself.
After all my efforts, I watched nothing improve. I watched the state department of education continue to find ways to propel Common Core into classrooms with no way to stop it from happening. I watched teachers use social media to tear myself and other parents apart personally for having the audacity to care about our kids and other Oklahoma students, so I quit.
In just a few short weeks I’ve seen the results of all the efforts I’ve ever attempted to uphold my tiny little corner of the world crash into a million pieces. I can never trust a single elected official again. How can I when public officials should have but have not been falling all over themselves to ferret out every single way public trust was violated during this presidential election, knowing that without fair and secure elections in this country, nothing else matters?
Without the assurance of fair and secure elections, the people are not represented. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people cannot be legitimate if the people can’t be sure their representatives were elected in accord with duly passed and equally enforced laws. How is it in the best interest of any state to simply “move on” from an election that has been fraught with as many questions, concerns, and outright unconstitutionalities as this one?