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“If a democratic regime is to work successfully, it must be generally agreed that contestants for power will not shoot each other and that ballots will be counted as cast.”

Political scientist V.O. Key wrote that in “Southern Politics in State and Nation” published in 1949. The words ring true today in a divided Norman.

On Aug. 14, the recall petition petition deadline came and went. A collective sigh of relief could be heard around Norman.

Threats and harassment have made fellow residents feel their city is unrecognizable. Things in Norman have gotten out of hand. 

It’s sad when Unite Norman, pro-police or recall protest rallies don’t want to publicize advance event locations for fear of harassment from the other side.

It’s not a good look, Norman. It’s time for a gut check. Whatever happened to fairness and respect?

It started with name-calling and personal attacks and escalated from there. Rather than listing a tit for tat of unbecoming incidents, let’s move onward and upward. 

All of Norman must support a democratic process free of violence, intimidation and fraud. Democracy is a delicate fabric that can be easily torn if subjected to unreasonable stress.

Politics is another matter, but democracy is sacred. The sanctity of the vote, the people’s right to petition and an organization’s right to peacefully protest must be protected. All of us as citizens of Norman — whether elected officials, employees of the public sector, private business owners, progressives or senior citizens — must respect everyone’s personal right to exercise their participation in the democratic process. 

We must condemn all violence, intimidation, harassment and bullying across the board. There is no place for any of this in a civil society wherein the citizens respect each other. The dignity of the system and our respect for democracy demands commitment to the process to let the people speak.

Our elected leaders have a right to govern without fear of reprisal. And a recall petition is just as critical to the process for confidence in the system as the right to vote.  

Now we must let the process happen. Signatures need to be verified. City officials must have the confidence and cover to do their job without intimidation.

The public has the right to see the petition signatures that will be viewed after verification process. What citizens do with that information is also a right.

There is a judicial process for this. It’s all part of the democratic system, but it must proceed without harassment and attacks.

Remember, Norman’s motto is “Building an Inclusive Community.” Let’s live up to that standard.

Our children are watching, and the world is watching. Observers inside and outside of our state and nation are not sure what to make of our divided city. 

A community divided against itself cannot stand. We will make even bigger headlines if the violence escalates.

Norman, we are better than this. 

The Norman Transcript Editorial Board includes Publisher Mark Millsap, Editor Rob Collins and guest members Brandi Coyner, Keith Gaddie, Bianca Gordon, Kathy Haney, Marc Nuttle and Michael Ridgeway. For comments or questions, please email editor@normantranscript.com.

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