partisanship

Enemies of Our Enemies

Enemies of Our Enemies - June 23, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

The ancient idea that “The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend” is widely attributed to the Arabs. But in truth, it is much older. The proverb can actually be traced to the military strategy writings of an Indian named Kautilya who is often referred to as the “Indian Machiavelli.” Kautilya’s 4th century B.C. treatise on warfare and economic policy is named the Arthashastra or the “Science of Politics” but has a much broader scope and actually addresses the collective ethics that hold a society together.

It includes books on the nature of government, law, civil and criminal court systems, economics, markets and trade, theories on war, the nature of peace and the duties and obligations of a king. It addresses public projects and advises that the king, in times and in areas devastated by famine, epidemic and such acts of nature, or by war, infrastructure should be reinforced and tax policy should reflect the needs of those regions.

Interestingly, while Kautilya’s work contains powerful messages regarding the common good, the most enduring concept of the Arthashastra is that, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” an idea that fuels the partisan divides in our nation and in our state. Unfortunately, activists on the left and right leave little room for lawmakers to overcome that political chasm.

The most recent case in point involves the couple of dozen Democratic candidates for President. Last week when one of the candidates, a former U.S. Senator, pointed to his ability to work across the aisle, he was chastised for cooperating on legislation with Republican Senators who were known segregationists. It did not matter that the common legislation had nothing to do with segregation.

Another recent article involved elements in the Oklahoma State Democratic Party who had urged party activists to chastise or blacklist current or former elected officials who were known to have endorsed a Republican in a political race. While such bi-partisan endorsements are unusual, the alternative is rigid, unbending partisanship that gives rise to the existence of rules such as the GOP’s 11th Commandment, “Thou Shall Not Speak Ill of Any Republican” that has existed since the 1964 California Republican Gubernatorial Primary when Ronald Reagan was accused by a fellow Republican candidate of having been a “member of several communist front organizations.”

Today, it is not unusual for Republicans who work across the aisle to be called, “RINO’s,” an acronym for “Republicans In Name Only” and Democrats are often called “DINO’s.” However, it is not unusual for members of one party to work with another. In fact, during the hard fought 2017 Oklahoma legislative session, the Democratic House Caucus had one goal and that was to increase state revenue for education and state services that had endured a decade of cuts.

The most obvious source of revenue was to increase the Gross Production Tax on oil and gas. Oklahoma’s rate on horizontal wells at that time was effectively in the 2% range while the rest of the nation ranged from 7 to 12%. With only 26 members in a 101 member body, there was not much that the Democrats could do until Democratic leadership recognized a split in the Republican caucus where one group did not want to increase the GPT at all and the other group had bought into the oil and gas industries plan to cap GPT at 3%.

Democrats took advantage of the GOP schism, siding with a faction of the GOP that refused to increase GPT to the paltry level sought by oil and gas and the state chamber. Then, when negotiations yielded not 3, not 4 but a GPT increase to 5%, Democrats unanimously shifted their votes to complete a bi-partisan bill that provided sufficient revenue to make education funding that year and this year much easier. Frustratingly when the dust cleared, the oil and gas industry chastised Republican legislators for caving to the demands of Democrats and Democratic Legislators caught flak from constituents for not getting the GPT set at 10% or at least the national average.

Sometimes, in the end, it is tough to tell who your enemies are and who your friends are. Thank you for allowing me to serve Oklahoma. For questions or comments call me at 405-557-7401 or email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

We Needed The Eggs

We Needed The Eggs - August 20, 2017

State Representative David Perryman

There is the joke about the man who thought that he was a chicken. He acted like a chicken. He sounded like a chicken and sometimes he even tried to look like a chicken. It literally drove his wife crazy.

Finally one day she took him to a psychiatrist and begged for a cure. The doctor examined the husband, sat them both down and explained that this was the most serious case of identity psychosis that he had ever seen. When he asked the wife how long her husband had thought that he was a chicken, she broke down in tears and said, “Three years, and I would have brought him in sooner, but we needed the eggs.”

The dictionary defines expediency as “the quality of being convenient and practical despite possibly being improper or immoral. While this story illustrates an extreme example of personal expediency, political expediency runs rampant in America and Oklahoma is no exception.

One phrase that often denotes political expediency is “Politics makes strange bedfellows” and describes the phenomenon of two people or two groups of people who are diametrically opposed in terms of philosophies  but who may be brought together to reach a common goal, good or bad.

A Latin term that defines a related concept is “Hostis, Hostis, Noster.”  The English translation is, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Whatever the verbage, the concept is the same…political expediency routinely results in one faction overlooking distasteful or even repulsive characteristics of another faction to form a majority coalition.

While most Oklahomans are begging for their elected officials to work together, it is important that voters understand that, in times of deep division, political extremism runs counter to civility in government.

Both Oklahoma Democrats and Republicans have long been considered conservative when compared to other parts of the country however, the ability to define political philosophy using the term conservative or liberal no longer exists. Today, many Republicans who consider themselves conservatives are scorned by a purist wing of their own party who refer to them as Republicans In Name Only (RINOs).

While both parties have purist wings, extremism tends to disrupt the ability of a government to function in the best interest of its citizens. Governments tend to be more stable when the moderate elements of both parties exercise greater influence than their wings.

In fact, when a wing of either party becomes more influential than that party moderates, the instability that results is often similar to the current national scene. Thus, it becomes incumbent on the party moderates to either distance themselves from extremist elements or to concede control of the party to the extremists because the party can no longer exist without the wing.

Democrat or Republican, any party seeking to lead our state must strive for stability in government by working across the aisle and realize that partisan political expediency is the reason that Oklahoma is in the shape that it is. Until then, the egg on the face of state leaders does not come from some guy that thinks that he is a chicken.

Thanks for allowing me to serve in the Oklahoma legislature. If you have questions or comments, please call 405-557-7401 or write David.Perryman@OKHouse.gov.

It Isn't Nice to Fool Mother Nature

It Isn’t Nice To Fool Mother Nature - May 4, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

In Oklahoma City on August 1, 1904, three brothers-in-law, Frank E. Anderson and William Lockhart Clayton, cotton merchants, and Monroe D. Anderson, a banker, formed Anderson, Clayton and Company (ACCO), a partnership for the sale of cotton and cotton products.

Through the years ACCO diversified into feed and food products and by the 1960’s had long since moved to Texas to gain access to international markets through the Houston shipping channels.  ACCO’s food line included Seven Seas salad dressings, Mrs. Tucker’s shortening and controlled about 15% of Brazilian coffee exports.

But perhaps ACCO’s most famous merchandising line related to a product that it had sold in Mexico since the early 1950’s.  The product had simply not taken off in the U.S. until a series of commercials hit the airways in the 1970’s starring Dena Dietrich as Mother Nature.

In the television ad, Mother Nature, true to the 70’s was dressed in flowing white chiffon with crown of daisies.  When given a taste of ACCO’s Chiffon margarine, she likes it and remarks that it is her “delicious butter.”

When the narrator tells her: “That’s Chiffon margarine, not butter…Chiffon’s so delicious it fooled even you, Mother Nature,” the tone suddenly changes. 

The previously smiling character that exuded love, peace and all things harmonious, angrily responds with her signature line: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature,” and for unmistaken emphasis underscores her displeasure by creating a flash of lightening and a loud peal of thunder.

While Governor Fallin is not Mother Nature, she emphatically and vocally directed her displeasure at the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Speaker Jeff Hickman this week by using the power of her pen to veto 15 house bills that were on her desk.

Some of the bills that the Governor vetoed honestly had little impact; however, some did address serious concerns and merit more consideration than being made pawns in a political spitting match.

House Bill 3417 was an important bill that had passed both the House and the Senate with NO dissenting votes.  It contained necessary legislation to protect the civil rights of citizens by preventing the outsourcing of law enforcement duties to people or companies that do not hold commissions or are not CLEET certified.  Oklahomans deserve to be secure in their homes and to know that if they are stopped or detained, the person stopping them is truly a qualified law enforcement officer and not a “hired gun” that is being paid through a commission based on how much property or money he can seize.

House Bill 2609 was legislation to help college students and other young persons clear their record by obtaining expungement of minor and non-violent convictions that might interfere with them obtaining a job or supporting their family.

 House Bill 3457 was a bill to enable counties and municipalities to contract with each other for better efficiency on joint projects such as road and street improvements.

House Bill 3158 relates to restricted driver’s licenses for applicants under 18.  Currently, the application must contain a number of signatures including the notarized signature of a parent or guardian.  This bill would allow the parent or guardian to sign an alternative affidavit in the event it is not possible for the parent to sign the actual original application.

Finally, the Governor vetoed two House Bills, 3026 and 3027, because they were “exact duplicates” of Senate Bills that she had signed a week earlier.  The veto message and the Daily Oklahoman’s opinion page attempted to ridicule Speaker Hickman and the House of Representatives for sending the Governor bills that had previously been signed into law and had “apparently not been read” by Representatives.

What the Governor and the editors at the Oklahoman did not realize (or wanted to conceal for political purposes) was that while the Senate passed the Senate Bills over to the House on March 10 and the House had passed the House legislation over to the Senate on March 11, the House had actually approved the Senate Bills on April 10 and they had gone to the Governor on April 14 and were signed on April 16, six days before the SENATE approved the House Bills that had the identical language.

Consequently, while the Governor sought to curry political gain and make the House of Representatives appear reckless, it was actually the Senate that sent unnecessary legislation to the Governor.

The bottom line is that the veto power of the Chief Executive is a powerful tool that enhances the checks and balances in a democracy such as ours; however, it is a power that is intended to prevent bad legislation from becoming law.  It is even a power that may be used when an engrossed and enrolled bill is sent to a governor and the bill contains legislation that the chief executive is fundamentally and philosophically at odds with.

Unfortunately, the veto actions of Governor Fallin were calculated to embarrass Speaker Hickman and the House of Representatives and to send a message that the Governor wanted HER agenda to advance.

Under a representative democracy, it is the job of each legislator to vote in the best interest of his or her legislative district in a non-partisan manner.  Speaker Hickman is a qualified leader who is doing his job well.  His decision to allow the House to vote to override the Governor’s veto was a reflection of his principled character.

He is to be commended for his courage in the face of angry lightning bolts and the thunder he hears may be the bipartisan applause of the House of Representatives.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, call me at 405-557-7401 or email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.