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On Tuesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the most restrictive abortion legislation in the nation, a law that will undoubtedly be contested before the U.S. Supreme Court. While signing his name to this odious attack on the state’s women, Stitt issued some vast generalities about the people he thinks he represents.

“As governor, I represent all 4 million Oklahomans and they overwhelmingly support protecting life in the state of Oklahoma. We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the State of Oklahoma,” the governor said.

No, we don’t. According to recent polling, a slim majority of Oklahomans favor at least some access to abortion, but Stitt loves to make blanket statements about his constituents, especially when trying to sell his unpopular policies. 

OPINION by George Lang

In 2020, when he tried to nominate an evangelical homeschooling advocate to the state Board of Education, Stitt told Carmen Forman of The Oklahoman, “When the governor’s elected by all four million Oklahomans, the people think that he or she’s supposed to be able to go in and make some different moves on education to get outcomes.” 

I did not vote for Stitt. That fact alone means he is wrong, but wait — there’s more. 

Stitt won with 54.3 percent of the vote in 2018, which means that 45.7 percent of voters cast a ballot for Democrat Drew Edmondson or Chris Powell, the Libertarian candidate — i.e., someone other than Stitt. Also, only 1,186,385 people voted in that election, which means we can prove beyond much doubt that Stitt had the support of 644,579 Oklahomans in 2018. 

Stitt tries to imbue Oklahoma with the traits he wants it to have, ignoring the plurality of attitudes his state’s residents hold. These include wildly varying opinions on the sanctity of life. 

In October 2021, the conservative political strategy firm Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates released a poll of 500 Oklahomans reporting 64 percent support for the death penalty. 

Now, we can argue about Republican strategists and the efficacy of their polling practices for days, but the immutable fact of that poll is that more than one-third of Oklahoma respondents do not favor the death penalty. If a 500-person poll is truly representative, then about 1,440,000 Oklahomans oppose Stitt’s death penalty stance. 

Furthermore, Stitt constantly takes anti-life stances. 

His plan to defund Oklahoma’s public schools would have altered the futures of children all over the state, especially the rural areas that support him most. 

He opposed the Medicaid expansion provided by State Question 802, which will unquestionably save or extend lives. He is resolutely anti-mask and anti-vaxx, both of which save the lives of those exposed to COVID-19, and the first bill he signed allowed anyone 21 or older to buy and carry a gun, a device designed to kill people. 

Several years ago, I was interviewing comedian, actor and podcaster Marc Maron, a committed progressive who was preparing to play a show in Oklahoma City. Toward the end of our conversation, he expressed worry over performing in such a conservative state. 

I told him, “Sure, two-thirds of Oklahomans voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008, but that also means you have more than 1 million people in this state who won’t heckle you.”

We, as Oklahomans, are not who Stitt tells us we are. Our state contains multitudes, not just people with Trump flags flying from their pickup beds. Stitt would do well to remember that, but Stitt does not do well. 

And when life hangs in the balance, Stitt is pro-life — except for all the many ways he is not. 

George Lang is the professional opinion columnist for Oklahoma City Free Press. 

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Last Updated April 14, 2022, 12:15 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor