Okla. legislators’ crimes result of citizens’ negligence

Oh what a year we’ve had. The year began with the resignation of Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa), who was accused of sexually harassing two staffers, demanding nude photos from one and paying $44,000 in hush money at taxpayers’ expense.
A legislative committee sanctioned Will Fourkiller (D-Stilwell) for allegedly making inappropriate comments toward a high school page.
Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City) was hit with federal child pornography and child sex trafficking charges after being accused of meeting an underage male prostitute in a motel for sex.
In April, Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) resigned his Senate seat after accusations he embezzled his own campaign funds.
Then Wednesday, Sept. 6, Senator Bryce Marlatt (R-Norman) was charged with sexual battery of an Uber driver.
Four-fifths of the charges are sexual in nature, but all five share an even more common theme.
They occurred in the context of presumed obscurity.
Research in the “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt indicates that nearly everyone, psychopaths excluded, base their morality and actions in large part on how they think others will react to what they’ve done.
When we believe we are not being watched, we are more likely to lie and cheat in our own favor, to the extent that we will not personally be morally repulsed by our actions and can still justify our own self-righteousness.
Integrity is not an innate trait of mankind. Integrity is a virtue, requiring explicit intent on the part of the actor to be virtuous.
This is a pessimistic view of human nature, but psychological studies seem to keep confirming it.
While the actions of these lawmakers are morally repugnant, the citizens of Oklahoma share part of the blame.
When we don’t tune in, we encourage a culture of secrecy, negligence and corruption.
Given the alarmingly low voter turnout rate, and the ever diminishing readership of newspapers, which routinely make public policy readable, it should come as no surprise that nondisclosure is the norm.
Government is boring, and most of us are way too busy to tune in. That is why we have a representative democracy and the fourth estate.
However, our lack of attention is what breeds the idea that lawmakers can act without being in the public view.
If we want the people making our laws and leading our state to act with more virtue than the common man, then we should be holding them accountable on a daily basis.
Legislating, like journalism, is a thankless job, and it should be. The goal of a public servant is to do what is in the best interest of the public. The best interest of the public can only be served by hearing from the public, and being held accountable by the public.
It is my job to hold my representative responsible for acting in my interest. It is your job to do the same.
And when our representatives know that they are being scrutinized, they will take the time to reflect on their actions both public and private.

Post Author: Kayleigh Thesenvitz