Forty Years of the Oklahoma Constitution
By: Constitution Staff
With this issue of the Oklahoma Constitution, we celebrate our 40th year of publication. We wish to thank our many subscribers who have been loyal since the creation, and all of you who have joined us along the way.
On a November night during the dark days of Jimmy Carter, four young conservatives met at an all-night restaurant in Oklahoma City and plotted a revolution. A peaceful transformation of the Oklahoma political landscape was the goal.
The 1978 elections had not gone well. The Republican candidate for governor had lost, the Oklahoma Legislature had barely more than twenty Republican members in the House of Representatives. Senator Dewey Bartlett had not sought reelection, battling the lung cancer that would soon take his life. Oklahoma’s other U.S. Senator was Henry Bellmon, the Republican who had voted for forced bussing and had sided with President Carter’s shameful giveaway of the Panama Canal.
Conservative political philosophy was looked upon with disdain even by the Republican Establishment. The state chairman of the Republican Party had supported Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan. Mickey Edwards was the lone Republican representing our state in the U.S. House of Representatives.
As grim as things looked, the four decided to fight. They vowed to launch a conservative newspaper, which they chose to entitle the Oklahoma Constitution.
Alas, of the four, only one is still with the newspaper. Your present editor joined within the first year of publication.
But the idea conceived in the dark of night did not die. An Oklahoma Conservative Index was the planned cornerstone of the effort to change the direction of Oklahoma politics through a conservative newspaper.
One of the first legislators ever rated by the Index was state Sen. Don Nickles, who won a U.S. Senate seat in the first election after the paper’s creation. In our first year, Nickles boldly wrote an article favoring nuclear power generation. As the Index began to expose the liberal voting records of many state legislators, the Republicans trended more conservative and eventually took control of the Oklahoma Senate for the first time in state history. Republicans later won control the Oklahoma House of Representatives, for the second time in state history, having controlled the lower house only two years following the 1920 Harding landslide. Republicans now dominate the Oklahoma Legislature, holding 77 of the 101 seats in the Oklahoma House, and 39 of the 48 seats in the Oklahoma Senate. Republican gubernatorial candidates have won six of the past nine election contests since the newspaper was created. Eventually, Republicans would comprise the entire Oklahoma Delegation to Congress (one seat has now turned back), and in 2010, 2014, and 2018, Republicans won all statewide secondary offices.
But, our work is not over. We now have a new struggle. A growing number of Republican office holders are RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) who block the efforts to advance conservatism. Some Republican legislators have lower scores on the Oklahoma Conservative Index than their few remaining Democrat colleagues. We are now in a battle for the heart and soul of the Oklahoma Republican Party.
We sincerely believe that our presence in Oklahoma over the past 40 years has made a positive difference, thanks to a dedicated and loyal readership. Others have tried, in vain, to imitate us as “Oklahoma’s Conservative Voice,” but they now live in the ash heap of history.
If you would like to help extend the reach and influence of the Oklahoma Constitution, buy some gift subscriptions for all those who could benefit from our unique conservative political perspective. An annual subscription for four quarterly issues is just $15 per year. Just send check, money order, or federal reserve notes in the amount of $15 to The Oklahoma Constitution, P.O. Box 53482, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Be sure to include your own address!
We hope you are still reading the Oklahoma Constitution for years to come.
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