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HB 1757, SB 691 and the Lot vs Millennials (advantage young people)

By: Andrew K. Boyle

We certainly are living in interesting times, in the mode of that famous Chinese curse sort of ways. The news of the day (note: the actual day is completely irrelevant) is overwhelmingly bizarre and nothing if not farcical. Pajama-clad nuclear tyrants, Russian strongmen, filibustering senators, a border wall, election hacking, an ever evolving presidential cabinet – all eminently worthy of singular national attention, is currently morasses into meaninglessness by a New York Times photo showing fewer football players at the White House than in years past. Were this a dystopian novel, no publishing house would touch the script – too unbelievable.

To make things more strange yet, our nation seems to be quite peaceful and prosperous. While any one of the aforementioned headlines should hijack a society, the cacophony of doom almost seems to be self canceling. Our populace is becoming ever dismissive of the above apocalypse, opting instead to change rapidly, in new birth of freedom sort of ways. Our politics are becoming a schizophrenic and lagging indicator of society. Lets explore.

Readers of this paper, myself included, have always found distinct interest and pleasure in the small working of politics. As such, conservatives have always found respite in places like Oklahoma. Though the world may be mad, the Sooner State demonstrates the reasoned and practical virtues necessary for self government. Sorry to report Sooners, I find few comforts in you anymore.

The formula for writing an article for publications like this is simple; find an event or particularly interesting piece of legislation and either extol its virtue or cast it as vice. In Oklahoma, it has always been easy to distinguish between the two, and the vice inspired legislation rarely went anywhere. The front half of this paper lists House and Senate bills in copious detail and I get to bombastically and humorously focus upon the one which is most interesting. Rather fulfilling and noble work. Apparently my job is being outsourced, for this formula no longer works.

I read through a long list of events in the Sooner State, they are mostly reflective of big national stories or very hackneyed tales of local corruption – very dog bites man sort of stuff. Phase II, reading through legislation. Here I found two bills of interest:

- HB 1757 which would allow mail and internet sales of hearing aids

- SB 691 which would permit training for Child Care workers to be done online

These causes currently making busy the Legislature caught my attention, not for their republican virtue, of which they lack nothing, but in the “I can’t believe its still illegal to chew gum on Sunday” sort of way. Both of these proposed acts would free a person to insert a compact disk to their PC and allocate several of their 55 monthly AOL hours to act on the world wide web in a manner similar to being in a doctors office or at their place of employment. No this isn’t an H.G. Wells novel, the future is actually here – and it is rad.

I’ll admit that mocking legislation for it’s comically lagging nature is traditionally the fallback of desperate columnists, but this is something more. This is much more than laughing at Jeb Bush trying to appear young by “hailing an Uber” or Hillary Clinton claiming she did not wipe her server “with a cloth” or any of the countless times our politicians pretend to inhabit the same world we do. These acts demonstrate the chasm between the governors and the governed. It’s not that the Legislature is stifling the people of Oklahoma with their archaic laws and minor attempts to change, its that the people haven’t cared for a long time. Hearing aids, glasses, contacts, medical braces, insulin, supplements and a whole vast array of medical products have been purchased across state and national lines utilizing the Google-machine for a great while now. Though it was technically illegal when I lived there, the UPS truck had no issue delivering the glasses I purchased in 2008 from my out of state online retailer (side note, a decade later I am still using the same company for glasses and still paying a flat $95 per pair – take that inflation!). Though it may be illegal to train a child care worker in a similar fashion, I guarantee that most facilities utilize the web for CPR training and many other small facets required to become a licensed child-care worker.

The people have stopped becoming frustrated by legislative actions that would have historically captured their attention because they quite unknowingly blow right past inhibiting regulations. We are living in a time of wildly expanding freedom, such that our interest in the politics is becoming limited to big national stories. The list of chewing gum style laws grows furiously.

As a traditional conservative I mourn this transformation. When reading Tocqueville, I see this shift of attention away from HB 1757 as poison being introduced into the stream of liberty. As an increasingly libertarian former conservative, I can’t help but notice a similar virtue in this legislation being farcically unimportant that I used to find solace in similar legislation. It used to be I would cling to hope that this or that legislation would pass and small mists of freedom would cool the face of on overheated populace; now I see a people cliff-diving into vast pools of freedom in defiance of government sanctioned heat in the atmosphere (insert climate change joke here.)

I have long argued in these pages that the GOP is long past dead stage. While many of my detractors held up the Trump movement as proof of my insanity, it is now looking like Trump is breathing life into conservatives in a way much more reminiscent of “Weekend at Bernie’s” than Lazarus coming out of the tomb.

It is quite freeing to be less burdened by the great war between Republicans and Democrats. While that skirmish rages on in newspapers and Facebook newsfeeds (with Republicans doing poorly – as always) it is clear that something fundamentally transformative is taking place outside of politics. Our concept of freedom is being reshaped by a host of forces in an Overton Window style that severs huge swaths of us from politics.

Readers of a certain age are very down on Millennials, with good reason – they did vote enthusiastically for crazy uncle Bernie. If you look past the cheap trappings of youthful participation in soviet style politics, you will see an entire generation of persons unknowingly being champions of freedom, more “give me liberty or give me death” than “read my lips, no new taxes.” It may not look like a Republican revival, but it is very freedom minded. Eventually these young people will realize the virtues of low taxes, because liberty has been their only experience. Their politics will eventually resemble the way in which they live.

For now, the millennial will be absent papers like this, but kid yourself not – they are the inheritors of Republican virtue. For now, HB 1757 can keep our legislators busy, but someday HB 1757 will be the answer to a strange laws trivia question – freedom will be just fine.

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