DescriptionOne Small Step conversation partners Ron Marlett (72) and Chris Powell (49) both knew each other before being paired together. In their conversation they talk about their upbringings and about the political changes taking place in Oklahoma's legislature over the past several decades. They also discuss their experiences running for public office.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Ron Marlett
- Chris Powell
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00:01 I'm Chris Powell. I'm 49. Today is September 20th 2021. I'm having this conversation virtually from my home in Bethany and could be talking with [email protected].
00:19 Oh, 15 or 16 years. Something like that, maybe a little longer.
00:26 Okay, and Ron, go ahead and do your introduction there for you to ask Chris instead of sitting in the kitchen, dining room in Warr Acres, Oklahoma, during this interview with the owl.
00:54 Powell go. I'll put it in. It has like little cubes for you guys to help you.
00:59 Wilcrest. What made you want to do this interview today?
01:02 Well, it was a couple of things when one is as a Libertarian. I find a lot of people don't really understand what we're about. So it's an opportunity may be to explain that a little bit and I'm also somebody who is interested in hearing what other people are interested in and their thoughts and their perspectives.
01:30 All of us are are human and fallible and limited in our knowledge. And so hearing with somebody else has to say, he is always enlightening in one way or another.
01:43 So what made you want to do this conversation today wrong?
01:51 Very similar reasons.
01:54 I think America is divided by something. I called toxic tribalism and people get into this notion that my sites. Good, your side's bad. There's nothing in, there's nothing to talk about and I just think that's ludicrous.
02:17 And I've put a Chris's by when they are wrong for you to read. So what you'll do, as, you'll read it as it's written and then you'll ask any questions that you have about it. And go ahead and do you see Chris's bio? And then that's it.
02:31 First off Chris. I want to thank you for your service. I thank you so very much.
02:45 I was so surprised and learned. I was going to be talking to you having known you for that. I actually drove you around when you were dropping off the literature for your city council race. And
03:07 I want to thank you for your service there as well.
03:12 I agree with you that.
03:17 Personal autonomy is foremost.
03:33 Go ahead and read that read that as it's written and I ask any questions you have about it. No worries. It's okay. What makes you like by the Oklahoma City Police Department as evidence custodian.
04:05 Just a second.
04:08 I can't get it.
04:10 Have you started their resume 911 dispatcher?
04:17 Believe that the more people have a ton of me over their lives are better off. We are
04:29 Am I Chris? And Chris? Thank you for your service.
04:47 Want to be like a 911 dispatcher?
04:51 Well, that's an interesting story. I found myself looking around for. How long did you do that? For me? That's where I'll be kind of fun. And there was an article in the newspaper about the need for 911 dispatchers and that looked interesting. So I applied for that and it took them.
05:18 About nine or ten months to actually complete that hiring process so that I can get started. But it's a
05:28 It's not something that is that you have to do it to really understand it. It's and the TV shows and movies and stuff. It's so they can get some things right, but they get a lot of things. It's an environment into itself.
05:54 An Evidence custodian. I was there for six years and then then I was about six years ago that I moved over to handling evidence.
06:10 Okay, so I'm going to put Ron's bio and there and Chris. I'll have you read that as it's written and ask him any questions you have about it.
06:21 Okay. So Ron Marlett, my name is Ron. I'm 72 years old. I'm a native Oklahoman. I'm surrounded by a loving family, getting closer to people and understand where they are coming from is important to me. I'm sickened by the divisiveness and toxic political tribalism going on.
06:38 So I've known that about Ron that he's interested in your interested in other people, but I was one of the things that I was thinking, would be a good questions. And I'm always interested in, is, you say native Oklahoman, where exactly is that? And what kind of environment were you raised answer?
07:05 Oh, I was born in Binger, Oklahoma. That's the birthplace of Johnny Bench.
07:12 I was right, bitching Union City, Oklahoma, farming community.
07:20 Play, where, where is it at? West 10 miles, south of El Reno?
07:26 Yo, I didn't I didn't think much about politics and knew what I was raised to use that job.
07:45 I would speculate that.
07:48 I would say in some ways.
07:53 Things will change.
07:56 Oklahoma, can a reflection of America, think it's
08:03 What divisions are our can be pretty intense?
08:08 I know that they say that word on a deeply Red State.
08:17 Doesn't make people good or bad it just
08:29 So you would have been where your folks, what were your folks doing in World War II?
08:38 Cuz you would have been born right after that.
08:40 My dad enlisted.
08:44 Which has some physical problems was not shipped overseas. Ended up guarding, German pows at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
09:00 Currents move to Union. City in 1947. My dad was a lineman for the Electric Co-op there.
09:16 They built him a house to press to live in. It was a quonset hut.
09:32 I'm afraid, I answered your question.
09:38 Yeah, that's that's it.
09:45 I would think that being a lineman man working for the co-op. That's
09:53 Yeah, that would probably, you know, seeing his experience with that, probably ate some of some of your views.
10:05 Thanks. So it was really devoted to the work that he did. He was devoted to that. He later developed arthritis and was unable to climb any more.
10:27 Williams Plumbing career page, I saved a man's life and brought a man down.
10:38 And help get him. Revived.
10:43 So, I went with him many times on outages, and
10:51 Got got to help him. Do some work. It, it was really
10:56 An important part.
10:58 Am I like watching him with others?
11:07 If we could Ron, I put the second question in there for you to ask Chris and we'll move on to this section of the conversation to teach you.
11:22 Well, I think it might be kind of similar to you were just saying, my dad is probably more than more than any other single person most influential. He was a truck driver and I was fortunate enough to be able to go with him off the road, a lot, during every summer, and every once in a while, over Christmas holiday, something like that. And he, your first
11:55 He started out in the oil industry working fuel, hauling for Mystic Local Company here. And then he got to where he worked for several years for tg&y, which all of us who've been around long enough, but it is impressed. Upon me a lot about how things happen about how how good get to whether go with that doesn't just
12:35 Things don't miraculously appear on the sports shelves. Somebody has to get that there and if it's Unit B produce my dad. Also and we had we had five acres growing up and at one point he had about two acres, that's a guard. And so fiance to go along with the goods on the shelves, the stuff in the grocery store or anywhere else, you know that had to come from somewhere to. I need a lot of understanding about that things. Don't just magically happen from my dad, not Justin what he he told me, but why didn't he showed me?
13:30 If it's the same question for you.
13:32 Yeah, so what I had to return the favor, who would you say is on? Who would you say some most influential person in your life?
13:41 I'm already talked about my dad. I think he was so I live influential just in the end teaching me the importance of caring for the People by the people.
13:59 I've really come to appreciate the influence of my mother on my life. She has quite the political Firebrand Shady are yellow-dog number and
14:20 Imma, go to conventions with Earth and
14:27 Just got to watch roulette.
14:31 Live out her values and
14:34 And boys are passions for thing.
14:40 Both of my parents were children of the Great Depression and that experience talked to him.
14:51 Something more than I can for now.
15:00 Chris, can you describe in your own words, your personal political values?
15:08 Well, I like Lord Acton. I don't believe that Liberty is just a political priority. It is the highest political priority and a lot of that beyond that really comes from both that
15:26 It when, when people are
15:31 Course when they're, when they're forced to do things through being regardless of, whether it's by another individual, whether it's by government that restricts their their ability to live their life, the way you choose and it's junk origin. Is it is corrosive to me in a lot of ways and on the opposite side of that Liberty, the ability of each of us individually to you. Go about our lives and make our choices as we see fit. I think that creates the broadest range of ability to create prosperity and create happiness, and create growth and make the world a better place. A lot of people will you that kind of Liberty, Liberty, Focus, libertarianism,
16:31 As you know, it's all about me and and, and who cares about you. I don't I don't see it. That way. I see it much more as
16:40 It's the freedom, you know, sometimes for some people yoga, people use that freedom to be selfish. But most people, most of the time we'll use that freedom to be free to express and interact and be parts of communities and make the world a better place. If I, if I didn't believe that, it would be much harder to hold the political views that I do.
17:13 Brondes hearing it come from Chris. And that way. Does that surprise you about anything or did you learn anything new about a Noah a very sure about it. I know that it's not monolithic that there is a wide diversity in libertarianism.
17:43 10 question for you. And what do you think that is different about Democrats and libertarian?
18:03 I don't think that we differ that much in terms of the how much we value, Liberty, and personal freedom.
18:17 I was talking to my wife and I said, you know, you don't know.
18:22 Libertarians, have endorsed the right of people to marry, who they want to marry pretty much since the beginning. And then about personal Liberty. I was raised a Democrat. I still am.
18:42 I don't, I don't believe the government is here to solve problem.
18:52 For me, it would be nice if
18:59 If it's just that, we will have them would get out of the way and allow us to solve problems. Sometimes they don't and when I don't think the government can a soldier,
19:20 Stop people crashing each other.
19:23 So I don't, you know, I don't differ.
19:29 Are great. You're probably on.
19:34 Government intervention.
19:55 And send your guys is like you for knowing each other and everything. How do you think you guys do differ?
20:03 What I would say that most of the time most Democrats are going to be more find this with both establishment parties that there are some things were Democrats will agree with a lot of things that we say but strongly disagree with others and then and same with. Same with Republicans only know. You can almost flip flop. What those what those are, but even within that, I think there are a lot of people who know they consider themselves a Democrat or consider themselves Republican, but they agree with a lot of what we have to say.
20:52 And you might in a different situation where if it were more evenly divided, you know, they might be a lot more willing to consider consider themselves, a Libertarian rather than whatever they are.
21:10 And, you know, part of that goes back to the fact that we have electoral systems, that that kind of that, try to narrow everything down to just two choices, but most people are, are not
21:24 Any just anyone think they have everybody has their own views and you know, somebody you don't like Ron and as he's a Democrat, but there's there are a lot of Democrats that aren't like Ron, you get a bunch of people in 10 in each of these groups that are a wide range of viewpoints. So, you know, there's
22:01 That's kind of what I have seen from dealing with people all across the Spectrum and I don't know what to tell, Ron, probably that you've probably got a different perspective from being inside that and seeing some of the especially in Oklahoma, going from where it was in large measure a one-party State Democrats and is now, largely a one-party State Republic.
22:29 What is that ship been like, for you?
22:43 Give me. I'm looking at some question. Share with supposed to be asking these know. Did you hear Chris's question for you?
22:56 I was curious to know what your views on, how it's shifting from the from so much from democratic majority and everything to Republican majority in everything because you, you live through that entire change.
23:19 You know, I don't know that there is acceptable answer to that it.
23:28 I sink.
23:30 Want to go back. And I look at the 80s 1980s with talk radio, conservative talk radio and the times that it was very divisive.
23:47 Very insulting and
23:53 Thinking that may have.
23:57 Then the first warning signs that we were heading towards divisiveness. And
24:05 But I can remember, you know, I'm this sixties.
24:09 Until recently. I didn't think there could be more turbulent time than the 1960s and I guess I've been proven wrong.
24:20 So, I don't know.
24:31 That doesn't mean backward. It just means maybe a buck more conservative.
24:41 I know there's a lot of talk in.
24:45 IMAX Timber Kratts.
24:49 And sometimes Democrats throw Their Own Worst Enemy.
24:54 And in terms of how they, how to spend things, how they talk about how they talk about their back use.
25:04 I don't know. I mean, I honestly wish I knew.
25:13 How do you end in return? Chris? How do you feel about the change in our legislature?
25:19 I think a lot of it. Is it still the
25:28 You're very most of us are pretty traditional people. And when it when it was the Democrat, when it was largely along party, Democrats say they were still conservative Democrat. Oklahoma Democrats as if there's something, something different from you. And what you might find in California or New York, and I think that's true. And, you know, now, those are starting starting in the 60s. There was a move towards
26:11 Voting for Republicans, but it was always voting for conservatives of one stripe or another. In a lot of ways. I didn't you to have exceptions here and there like my Fine Art was definitely a bit of an exception but even today, you know, somebody like Mike cynar who at the time was viewed as quite liberal would be in the National Democratic party. He would be considered a definitely a blue dog and probably one of The Bluest Eye.
26:53 Yeah, I think I might add. I'm sorry.
26:58 I was just going to say that I think that the on the national level. I don't think Democrats do Oklahoma any any favors.
27:12 You know, by some of the reviews.
27:18 I am, I'm not a socialist.
27:26 But I think that that gets in, Oklahoma.
27:31 Those differences, get magnified.
27:34 And they get spawned rear. We're no different than Democrat anywhere else and been in the country, which is not true. I think it may work Chris.
27:50 So this is, this is off track from from the from the storycorps prompt questions, but I think this is something that I'm interested in. What's, what would you say? Was one of your favorite campaigns to work on?
28:09 Okay, you kind of broke up, you repeat?
28:13 One of you of the political campaigns that you that you worked on and been involved with what was one of your favorites and why?
28:25 I'm going to say is a kid picking up yard signs for Fred Harris.
28:33 Both presented a president.
28:40 There have been there been some good ones.
28:48 And I really admire people that put them nipples up there and do it. You and I are both done this. You want I didn't and it it's not a process. I'd ever want to repeat in it. And again, I'm grateful. You. What about for you? What has been your most memorable.
29:12 Well, I am in 2016 when I ran for a rub County Clerk. That was that was just me and it was an opportunity that I saw to get in an intuitive candidate race. I spent.
29:30 Counting the filing fee. I probably spend about 500 bucks and I put together these yard signs with bamboo skewers and color copies and and and a plastic plastic page protectors. They cost me about $0.38 each which anybody, who knows what campaign signs cost, 38 senses and I managed to get 89,000 boats in Oklahoma County which to put that in context. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate got eighty-five thousand votes for the state of Oklahoma. So working with one County. I beat what Garry did Statewide. So that's that
30:30 It's funded win and you'll decide I'm proud of the campaigns that I run, but that one is really, for the amount of effort that was put into it. And what what we got out of it, because that's probably sixty or seventy thousand people who had never voted libertarian. Before, if it hadn't been for that kind of a race, you know, they never would have never consider. But once you get them to do it again,
31:17 I have a question for you, Chris. What's been a lesson that you've learned while you've stirred done, Bethany City Council?
31:26 Well, as if you one of the things is that
31:31 You're going to find out different things. Expected things about the people that you're serving with, and sometimes those are going to be pleasant surprises and sometimes they're not. So pleasant and, you know, and it's
31:49 You know, it's one thing to be looking from the audience. It's another thing to be sitting up there with him and then find out something.
31:59 You'll find out that they see something differently than you thought they did.
32:08 I said I'm sure Ron is probably wrong. You probably seen some people do some things that really surprised you after they don't have to, they were elected or you'll within party organizations.
32:30 You can probably tell us something about some of those.
32:37 Well, I am.
32:42 I can't say that. I'm
32:44 I can't see the time that.
32:47 I haven't been that's horribly disappointed. On a local level, at least on the state level. When I ran, and I ran twice.
33:03 This district is Bethany Warr Acres. District has changed. I miss change significant. We have.
33:15 You have to be a red District. We have two Democrats serving as state senators.
33:20 And I could not have imagined that.
33:26 Looking back at my experience. I could not have imagined this.
33:36 And no, I don't know if you're in, if you're still in 84 with with Tammy West, but Tammy is definitely different from her predecessor by a lot.
33:54 That's probably the biggest understatement I've ever heard you make.
34:03 Can you talk about some of the changes in the area that you're in cuz for like someone who lives in like Oklahoma City Edmond like me, I'm not sure like how the area has changed curious for you both.
34:16 Well, what have you seen Rob to two? Ladies Democrats serving a state senator from this general area. I wouldn't have thought. I wouldn't have thought that pop.
34:37 Bethany. I don't know if it's still the case to have a Hispanic city councilwoman. That's
34:48 You know, from the history of Bethany that is quite a quite an accomplishment.
34:56 Well, as it's Amanda is Sandoval is is my co-counselor council member in Ward 1 and get the part. The, the Southeastern part of Bethany that we represent. Bethany has had a lot of a considerable increase in a very large increase over the past 30 or 40 years but in the Hispanic population. And so, you know, that has that has a lot to do with it, but it's also
35:37 Is younger.
35:40 Then I don't know if it's necessarily that the people are younger, but they're from a different generation. Now, you know, a lot of them, then what was here before, and there's a lot more diversity, not just Hispanics, but your other ethnicities. And also, yeah, it is not as much of a monoculture as far as a lifestyle with religious views, and social views, are there since it's, it's a lot different than it was when I first moved to Bethany 25 years ago.
36:25 How long have you been in here in Warr Acres, Ron?
36:34 Can you kind of broke up there? Chris? Can you repeat?
36:38 How long have you been where you are now? And what changes have you seen like in your neighborhood and things like that? Oh, gosh. We move the river letter here from Warr, Acres in 1988 and
37:01 I see. I have a lot of Hispanic neighbors now.
37:08 Where are some behind me a month or so ago, that a mariachi band back there? It was great fun. Just in terms of diversity. Yeah, it's
37:27 Not as many white people as they used to be. And that's all right.
37:41 What is the one issue that you think everybody regardless of party here in our country should and could work together on?
37:56 And it's okay to think about it.
38:11 Well, I would say that, you know, something that I think should have brought appeal.
38:17 Would be reducing the amount of government that is used to Advantage large corporations and subsidies for various programs. A lot of the so-called economic development. That is really Beyond just politicians, you'll find any ways to do favors for their friends and then and claimed credit for things that they really didn't. Do. You know what it's doing? What politician doesn't want to stand in front of something and say they created a bunch of jobs, but I think most people, regardless of ideology know that that's
39:09 At best a a finagle and you know most of the time it's it's something that would have happened anyway, or it's taking away from something somewhere else.
39:21 So I don't know what to do know, how you would do that wrong. But if you've got a different idea what, so what we can all get behind.
39:35 I've always found it ironic that there are people who oh my gosh. They don't want.
39:44 They don't want money.
39:50 Government giving money to corporations, but if it comes to that money being distributed in terms of programs to help people. Yeah, that's
40:04 I would be more concerned.
40:08 I am wondering if Chris have lost you. I've lost your visual here.
40:18 I'm not seeing you anymore. I can hear you.
40:23 Biking. Yeah, you you could ask your closing question.
40:34 I'm concerned about any.
40:37 Any ports in any system in in and be that large corporations, whatever work to undermine the the rights and the power of a common people.
40:53 If we're going to have capitalism, let's get rid of crony capitalism.
41:02 Which ended in a thank you touched on that Chris. And talkin about give money to this Corporation or that Corporation.
41:17 The money, this is probably where.
41:23 Democrats and trillions differ. The greatest is the ocean of Taxation.
41:32 I've encountered some Libertarians and said, what's that? That's my night. It's taken for me and it's used in ways that I don't lie.
41:42 In and I think of liberals like me could agree, there is money in the form of taxes that's taken in on things.
41:54 That I don't agree with, on the other hand.
42:00 Every time I drive down the street though, streets are paid for by taxes.
42:08 I want the shirt every time I go to the library, my property taxes at work. Dropping my grandkid off school at some public school. I don't feel stolen from
42:24 But if corporations,
42:29 Get proposition spending huge amounts of money on politicians that back them and that ends up robbing the power of comic people that I don't know. I would hope that something we can agree on campaign. Finance reform, might be a way of doing that.
43:01 Well, what?
43:07 We think a minute how I want to come at this. There are a lot of Logan and I think there's there's two issues as to why I never do. So one is that we are so far from being in a situation where we could move to an entirely voluntary early funded government system at any level that we got a bunch of stuff to do before before we can have that conversation. I ran for an office and now I'm in a position where I help decide where, where some of that is some of that those tax dollars are spent. So unless
44:07 I'm going to vote no on every expenditure which I don't think is very practical, it would be, you know, it would be hypocritical for me to to go around using us, but we talked about roads and the others, there's a standing joke about Libertarians roads, but one of the things that happened in in Oklahoma in particular and a lot of other parts of the country as well, but it's very clear in Oklahoma is that asked in the wake of World War II, there was a great deal of tax investment into ropes.
44:54 And it what it did in a lot of it is that it really funneled people into using. And depending upon Automobiles and among other things, it entirely destroyed the private, commuter rail that we had here. You look it up on the City of Oklahoma City. Two of the major streets, close to town Classen on. Shartel are both named for commuter rail. Guys, those work we have that that public transportation. That was not publicly funded. It was private and system.
45:43 And it was largely run off by it. Again. This happened in communities, all across the country are back in the late forties and then in the fifties when you got the head of General Motors, still in Congress. That what's good for America is good for General Motors. What's good for General Motors is good for America. So, you know, sometimes we look at these things that our tax dollars are expended upon and we can't see the alternative that would have happened if that they play and the others.
46:22 That's kind of a struggle for for Libertarians that we have to point to the thing that's not there that we could have had and people often aren't you. People don't necessarily have the vision to see it because they don't spend this. You're far too much of their time thinking about those kind of things like we do.
46:45 Oh, yes.
46:47 One question that I see her on the screen. What have you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
47:04 I think I've learned that.
47:08 I'm willing to go.
47:11 A long way to try to.
47:17 Able to cooperate with with the plan.
47:26 Yeah, but I'm not willing or not willing to just do anything. There's a certain point at which it, which that
47:37 You know, it doesn't seem like it's it. It is paying off to just follow anything like Wyndham when the vaccine rolled out. We didn't we didn't even try to rush out and get it right away. But I tried to get that pretty early and a lot of that was because, you know, it's not just me. I'm around people. My office was never, was never close. We, we can't work virtually so and I'm having to go to Council meetings and there's little things that I do. I'm around other people have a responsibility to try to help protect other people. So, you know, my family and I yell, then you have the talk about getting the boot kickers and
48:33 I yelled at science is not, you know, and I don't want to criticize anybody who is an early adopter, you know, because anything has to have anything. If it's going to get going, has to have early adopters, you know, I think all of us Libertarians are early adopters of what everybody's going to be going late. So I don't want to be critical of anybody else's choices. But, you know, it's I'm going to need some convincing before I am done before, I would be willing to do that both because not sure what the affected going to be really good science to. We can see with with the name of the Delta variance stuff that the people who were vaccinated are in a much better situation than people, but I don't know why, you know, it doesn't and there's a lot of this stuff that doesn't make a lot of sense to me as far as my irises work, you know, but
49:33 Wanted to participate and no kind of play ball because we are both thinking about other people and, you know, and also be
49:44 Seeing that people are having bad effects from it. You know, I was, I was ready to get on board with that but I'm only willing to go so far. I'm not willing to give anybody a blank check on it. And I think that's where a lot of other people are now, I know with health issues, baby need to make different choices. What do you think about you? And what is your perspective changed?
50:17 Since it's all right, bro, I've learned.
50:26 From Takis. I see that maybe the device Fitness got a bit worse. During this process. I know, people have definitely been insulting to each other from that are.
50:44 Different perspective.
50:52 That there was some talk on the news, the other night about how Mental, Health crisis of Spike during this, and nothing happens in society. Without
51:07 It defecting lots of people.
51:10 We're all connected.
51:20 Was there anything that you heard me say that surprised you?
51:28 Yeah, I didn't know not sickly with that. I mean, I absolutely agree. That was something that I didn't think of what I was trying to answer. The first go-round is that I realized how fortunate I am to have been in a position where
51:50 I not only got two but I kind of had to go out and interact with people. That was a luxury that a lot of people did not have.
52:04 You know, I'm talking about my dad and my dad said something once in pieces, if what those folks over there are doing
52:16 In hurting you.
52:18 Mind your own business and I don't think you could get much more libertarian than that.
52:24 That's true. That's true.
52:29 So, what do you think? Are we coming up against on time Kaitlyn?
52:35 Has Ron did ask his so if you could pick from one of these, for that would be great.
52:43 What is this last one that popped up, you know something, you know, what gives you hope for the country or something that you hope is going to happen in the near term or the
52:58 I just hope that everybody can come together. Start respecting each other. Respecting differences, and I've been as guilty as anyone doing that not respecting differences.
53:16 Alright, I would say now. I'm a lot more mindful of it, and I thank you.
53:23 I think America would serve itself. Well by people that come in mind how they show up with each other.
53:34 I would certainly agree with that.
53:40 All right. Well, that was the end of your guys's 50 minutes. How was the experience for each of you?
53:51 I'll go ahead and stop the recording.