Engaging in our democracy

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

Independence Day serves as a reminder of the democracy we are fortunate to have in our nation. Our founding fathers fought for a government that is by the people and for the people. Based on this premise, our democracy is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation. Making our voice heard every year through elections is both a privilege and a responsibility. In recent years, studies show that rural Americans’ voice has dwindled at the poll. To boost rural voter registration and turnout, America’s electric cooperatives have launched a non-partisan initiative, Co-ops Vote, with the goal of strengthening rural representation during elections.  

In Oklahoma, electric cooperatives serving in the state’s 77 counties also champion rural voter participation. We embrace Co-ops Vote because we understand the value of having our voices heard. While more voters show up at the polls every four years to pick our president, turnout in non-presidential elections is generally lower. The great irony is that these lower-profile elections typically have a greater impact on our day-to-day lives and in our local communities. Local and state elections are vitally important, and they are often decided by a small fraction of our citizens. Over time, that leads to a well-organized minority dictating outcomes, which can be harmful for our democracy, our government and our communities. Truly, our democracy is at its finest when our citizens are most engaged.

I encourage you to honor our nation’s democracy and the sacrifices of our forefathers by making your voice heard. Visit www.vote.coop to access resources and information on key issues that impact rural America, such as the importance of rural economic development and the continuing need for safe, reliable and affordable electricity. Show your support for rural communities and help make our future brighter by engaging in elections, not just this year, but every year.

 

Freedom comes at high cost

Larry Hicks
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

Let freedom ring” is a phrase that we have heard many times. Freedom is not cheap; it takes people working together at great cost and sacrifice to achieve. Looking back in the history of the United States, the famous “Declaration of Independence” –   approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 –  announced the separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain and celebrated the United States in setting the 4th of July every year as a national holiday. Many projects of public interest have been initiated on July 4th such as the digging of the Erie Canal in 1817 and the building the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1828. In 1818, Congress ordered that a new star be added to the flag on July 4th following the admission of a new state. On July 4,1884, the United States received the gift of the Statue of Liberty from the people of France. The height of the statue alone, the figure of a walking woman with a torch in her raised right hand, is 151 ft, 1 inch with a pedestal of 305 ft,1 in. Cradled in the left arm is a tablet bearing the date July 4, 1776 in Roman numerals. On a bronze plaque inside the pedestal is inscribed a sonnet “the New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus. The last one-half of the poem reads: “’Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she, with silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’” I love America and what we stand for: the freedom that we have to work together and achieve great things. With cooperation and collaboration, we can correct the things that are wrong and improve on the things that are right. My research for this article came from the Encyclopedia Britannica; it made me realize that we should refresh our memory of the true cost of our freedom. Our country has provided the freedom for thousands of people to have a new start in life, having a better place to raise families and enjoy quality of life. I am reminded of that freedom every time we pledge our great flag. May God bless each of you through this 4th of July celebration.