Please don't do this
A Trump sticker appears on a window Tuesday morning at Metal Check in south Oklahoma City. (William W. Savage III)

I was assigned recently in my church the honor of one of the readings during the mass. From 2 Timothy, it read in part:

be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.

The exhortation to be persistent stuck with me.

Now that the final debate is over, I say to my friends and neighbors, Democrats and Republicans, don’t do this: Don’t sacrifice our national values embedded and directed by our Constitution, which makes it clear that all men are created equal, by voting for a racist for president.

A man cited for racial discrimination in his housing projects by the U.S. Justice Department. A man whose own casino managers know to remove the minority employees from the floor when he visits. A man who promoted for five years the racist birther theory in an attempt to invalidate our first African-American president — a crackpot theory that his former advisers report Trump knew was false but promoted for political purposes. A man who pretended initially not to know David Duke or the Klu Klux Klan but enjoys their vigorous support and continues to stoke hate for those who look different than him.

Please don’t do this: Don’t lower our state to the level of sending our electors to our nation’s Capitol to vote for a man whose words and actions give others license to discriminate, to attack a religion, to denigrate the military, to attack a Gold Star Mother grieving her son’s death in combat.

Please don’t reward with your vote a man who seems morally devoid, particularly in regard to his views, words and actions toward women. Just imagine the example he sets for our children. How do we explain to our kids that our state prefers someone who minimizes our daughters and mothers and, by example, signals to young men that it is OK to disrespect and objectify girls and women?

What candidate for the presidency sends a Twitter message out encouraging people to watch a (non-existent) sex tape and then denies ever doing it? Did you listen to the tape of him on that bus?

What candidate leaves doubt as to whether he will accept the election’s results peacefully?

This same man is running for president of the United States, and you are going to vote for him?

Racism and bigotry alive and well in Oklahoma

It spoke volumes about our nation when it rose up to elect a young African-American U.S. senator — with a beautiful family — as president of the United States. Before he had a chance to show us any policies or actions, however, not a single county in Oklahoma voted for him, and he lost Oklahoma in 2008 by a 31 percent margin.

After he represented us for four years with dignity, accomplished much in the face of massive partisan opposition, ended two wars, rid the planet of Osama Bin Laden, kept us safe, insured 20 million of us and saved our economy: Where was Oklahoma? We voted by a margin of 33 percent to defeat him, and he did not, again, carry a single Oklahoma county.

Not a single county. Twice. The least support of any other state in the nation.

I am saddened to say that in my beloved state many of our people rendered judgment based on reasons unrelated to performance or policies. By the way, the Wall Street Journal reported recently that median household income in the U.S. rose 5.2 percent to $56,516 over the last year. This is the largest annual gain since 1967. FORTY-NINE YEARS! The poverty rate has declined this year by 9 percent compared to 2015. Nine percent in one year!

Yet here we are

Still, Oklahoma will almost surely cast its electoral college votes for a clear racist and bigot — a man judged by all independent fact-checking organizations as lying more than any other candidate in the presidential race. No one else even runs a close second. A man who thrives on fear and hatred. A man who promotes violence. A man who denigrates races and religions on one day and pretends he never did so on the next. A con artist who has lied about his wealth and health and has no interest in policies unless they enrich himself. A man who has profited from his campaign by taking contributions and charging for the use of his home and plane and corporate staff. A man who attacks others who use foundations to save the lives of millions but who uses his own foundation to buy six-foot images of himself. A man who now claims the election is rigged (another huge lie; a Loyola Law School professor recently found only 31 incidents of voter fraud out of literally a billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014). A candidate for the presidency who is conducting an attack on our democracy and the peaceful transfer of power. A man who revels in the fact that a foreign power is attempting to manipulate the outcome of our national election and encourages the Russians to do more.

Conservative media foment hatred

Please don’t do this. Conservative media have fed the public’s apparent hatred for our government, for an ill-defined but reviled “establishment” and for all those who are different. I know you know what our country stands for — what our forefathers have fought and died for — what billions of Americans over the centuries have labored to create and refine. We are a great country with a magnificent standard of living, a strong justice system and a nurturing culture that may not be perfect but constantly tries to improve.

Where is the evidence that our government is so broken and so corrupt that it deserves to be destroyed by sending the craziest, most morally corrupt, poorest-prepared person ever to be the president of the United States? Why should we want to create as much havoc as possible? (Not to mention embarrassing the crap out of all of us internationally and dropping our standing in the world.) No wonder Putin is working overtime to get this guy elected. I have had the privilege of getting around the world, and I can assure you that we are respected, revered and admired. Most of the world would move here in a second if they could.

We live in a wonderful country that, thank God, has been fortunate to have been led by good people, Republicans and Democrats, who seemed to rise to the high honor of nomination and election. Things work in our country. It is efficient; we are powerful and well-educated. Of course we have problems, but in a democracy we know that working together in good faith solves problems. The use of fear, hatred and wild conspiracy theories that breed mistrust and division will never solve our problems.

Clinton endures attacks in search of better place

I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. She is the most qualified person ever to run for president in my lifetime. She speaks carefully, borne from 30 years of political opponents attempting to parse her words to attack her. She is fearless and strong. She stood as a student during her college commencement and gave the valedictory address that countered and chided the keynote speaker — a U.S. senator — and made national news with her views on policy as a college student.

She traveled to China and confronted leaders there on civil rights and, particularly, women’s rights abuses. She got the ball rolling on health care reform even when she knew it was politically radioactive. Millions of poor children got health care because of her direct actions. She is ethical and honest. My wife Rhonda and I are so appreciative that Hillary Clinton decided to endure the unfair and relentless assault on her character in order to try to lead our nation to a better place. Not to blow it up, not to destroy it, not to set aside our constitutional values, but to improve our union and our people.

The newspaper endorsement disparity is striking. Well more than 200 newspapers and magazines have endorsed Hillary, while dozens more have said anyone but Trump. As of this writing just three (three!) papers in the United States, including this week’s endorsement from the Waxahachie Daily Light (south of Dallas) have now endorsed Donald Trump. In Oklahoma, the Enid, McAlester, Ada, Woodward, Norman, Stillwater, Duncan and Chickasha papers have endorsed Hillary. None endorsed any candidate in 2012. No newspapers have endorsed Donald Trump in Oklahoma.

Please don’t do this

So please don’t do this. If you cannot get over the caricature the conservative media created of this wonderful woman by the need for false equivalency in our other media, then at least understand, as Oklahoma state regent for higher education Mike Turpen said, “We are not comparing her to the almighty, just to the alternative.”

Please don’t do this. Show the pollsters that, for once, they have got us wrong. We are not the most right-wing state in the nation. We are Oklahoma Proud, and we have values to match.

Please set a new direction for Oklahoma. Thank you, and God bless our little state. May he guide us to understand and to act.

(Editor’s Note: David Walters has contributed to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and is a member of her Oklahoma Leadership Team.)