Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendra Horn has a pretty simple definition of extremism.
“It’s the all-or-nothing mentality that disturbs me,” Horn, the Democratic nominee in the special election for the unfinished term of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, said Wednesday night at the Greenwood Cultural Center.
Horn said extremism is the No. 1 issue because it is “allowing some of the really dangerous ideology that divides us.”
“It also shows up in our unwillingness to listen to each other,” she said. “We have to be willing to defend each other, even if we don’t always agree. We have to recognize we’re all in this together.”
Horn’s first example of extremism is Oklahoma’s abortion laws, said to be the strictest in the country, and the positions of the state’s congressional delegation.
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“Our polling shows a solid, solid majority of Oklahomans not only opposed the law but say they would vote against anyone who voted for it.”
It makes sense, then, that Horn’s first television ad attacks 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin — “my probable opponent” — on that issue. It may be the first time a candidate for statewide office in Oklahoma has made such a strong pitch for abortion rights.
Horn does not limit her critique of “all-or-nothingism” to Republicans or conservatives. During her term in Congress, from 2019-21, Horn was at odds with Democrats who shot down a bipartisan infrastructure bill because it did not include everything they wanted.
“That is extreme to me,” she said. “This was billions of dollars that would have gone into their communities. It disregards the needs of the community.”
Horn said gerrymandering is largely to blame for making politics even more of a team sport instead of public service. The large majority of congressional districts, she pointed out, are not competitive, which means members do not have to listen to political minorities.
“What I see in so much of dialogue today is a disrespect that comes from a lack of understanding. That lack of understanding comes from separation,” Horn said. “Bridging the divide is making sure we have people serving in elected office who want to make things better … in all of our communities.
Horn said Oklahomans are telling her they’re tired of “people who just shout and yell and don’t get anything done.”
“The toughest thing,” Horn said, “is not the anger. It’s not the finger-pointing. The toughest thing is showing people we can make a difference. It’s overcoming the idea that it’s hopeless and you’re helpless and that it doesn’t matter. … The power to change things is right here.”