Happy New Year, everybody! As 2008 winds down and 2009 arrives, we will see one of democracy’s miracles repeated in capitols across America: the peaceful transfer of elective office.
In America, elective office is not a position of power; it is one of service. The power belongs to the people. Here, hope is more powerful that hate; faith in the future carries more value than the consolidation of raw power.
In Washington, we will watch the peaceful transition of the highest office in the nation from one political party to the other. Clearly, that is a miracle that is a mystery beyond comprehension to much of the world.
In Oklahoma, the changes will not be as dramatic. The governor is mid-term and still has two years before he is term limited and must leave office. The partisan split in the House of Representatives remains the same, now with 40 Democrats in the House of Representatives to 61 Republicans.
The Senate, after two years tied with 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans, now will have a slim Republican majority of 26 Republicans and 22 Democrats. While we have yet to see the new Senate rules, it has been the tradition of the Senate that members of both the majority and minority parties have extraordinary abilities to make their voices heard.
Regardless of the partisan make-up, each senator represents about the same number of people. As such, each senator has the same responsibility and right to make the voices of their constituents heard. That will not change regardless of partisan changes occurring after elections.
The fact that both parties worked together during the two-year tie shows that both sides, despite deep and honest differences, can and will find some areas of common ground. On those areas of honest disagreement, expect vigorous debates – and that is not a bad thing.
The 48 senators represent more than 3.5 million Oklahomans. Our constituents are urban and rural, young and old, and from just about every ethnic background you can imagine. The differences in viewpoint are a given; there will never be agreement on every issue. The challenge we have is to be honest in our debate and fight hard for the issues about which we care.
For those of us fortunate enough to serve in public office, nothing should be more important than to fight for the best interest of those we serve; anything else is simply unacceptable. As we enter this new year of change, that will be an unchanging goal of mine as I stand for you on the floor of the Senate.
As always, feel free to contact me with your comments, questions or concerns about our future. You can reach my Capitol office at (580) 924-2221 or (405) 521-5586. You also can reach me through my website at www.gumm.us or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a very Happy New Year’s Holiday, and may God bless you all.