John Thompson writes about the latest madness in his home state of Oklahoma:

The shocking headline was that the price of oil dropped to below $1 a barrel. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt was on the phone with Vice President Mike Pence when he heard the news. The legislature now faces “a loss of $1.3 billion in revenue for appropriation between FY 2020 and FY 2022.”

So, why has Gov. Stitt been talking with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos about Oklahoma giving some of $40 million of new federal money to private school vouchers?

Even though the Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Program, a tax credit that raises money for scholarships to private schools, was supposed to expand school choice for low-income students, it has long been known that “families who earn up to three times the income limits for free and reduced priced lunch (a family of four earning $139,000 a year) are eligible for scholarships.”

‘Tough decisions’: Stitt projects $1.3 billion drop, legislators want the math

Increasing the scholarship tax credit hurts public schools and benefits affluent Oklahomans

I’ll save non-Oklahomans the details regarding the range of bipartisan efforts to persuade Stitt to embrace reality. Before the COVID-19 shutdown, it seemed like the legislature, often led by the Teacher Caucus, might be able to counter the completely inexperienced governor’s infatuations with “reforms” that are disconnected from the real world. But, every time one government institution, or grassroots initiative, has successfully pushed back, Stitt finds another, now unguarded, door to Trumpism.

On one hand, Stitt’s effort to ban abortions during the pandemic, claiming that those services are nonessential, was reversed this week by a federal judge. On the other hand, he has ignored the “thousands of Oklahomans (who) have spoken out against the Governor’s health care proposal, which could restrict health care access for up to 200,000 Oklahomans.” Moreover, Stitt has been slow in scheduling the vote on Medicaid expansion. Frustrated by the state leaving billions of dollars of federal money on the table, Oklahomans launched SQ 802 to require the state to accept the Medicaid funding. Stitt hopes that his plan, which imposes a work requirement, will undermine the citizen-led initiative.

Thousands of Oklahomans speak out against Governor’s health care proposal

And Stitt hasn’t given up on his most hopeless fight; ignoring legal advice, he’s still fighting Oklahoma tribes, denying that the compact governing casino gambling automatically renewed in January. In doing so, he placed $130 million in education funding in jeopardy.

So, education is just one area where the politics of destruction are being ramped up so that no disadvantaged families are being left unpunished. Students, especially poor children, have lost months of learning. Schools face new costs for devising virtual learning, not to mention the time and money redesigning schools for a safe reopening. Especially in rural areas, where hospitals have been closing, the challenge of providing basic health services – not to mention virus-related costs – is worsening.

With Possible Student Slump, State Weighs Next Steps

And, yet, the Stitt and the Trump administrations seem committed to a double-barreled blast: subsidizing the flight of families from traditional public schools while cutting their funding. Instead of timely interventions to prevent excessive deaths due to the pandemic, they are launching assaults of education, health, and social services that would hit home next year, when a resurgence of the virus is likely.

I said I wouldn’t bother non-Oklahomans with the details of the Stitt administration’s version of Trumpism, but the headlines keep getting crazier. Because of Oklahomans’ preexisting health problems, our state is especially at risk from the virus. And the Oklahoman reports, “Oklahoma is in the bottom four states for testing for COVID-19, according to an email sent this week by the White House coronavirus task force.” But due to bipartisan leadership of mayors in the Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Norman and other communities, and the way that the public has supported their “shelter-in-place” policies, our confirmed cases and deaths have been lower than expected.

It had been predicted that COVID-19 would peak around April 21, but recent days have seen an increase in infections. So, how did Stitt react?

The next day, Stitt announced the reopening of numerous businesses on Friday, April 24, and more openings on May 1!?!? He implied that the state might try to force cities to comply with his order!

By the way, the New York Times reported that the Oklahoma rightwingers demonstrating for a reopening of business denied any connection with the Trump campaign. But to understand what Attorney General William Barr, Stephen Moore, and Tea Partiers want, the Times says we need to:

Look no further than the first protest organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund — whose chairman manages the vast financial investments of Dick and Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary — to see that the campaign to “open” America flows from the superrich and their front groups.

It’s gotten to the point where the fights picked by Stitt, a few other Republican governors. and the President are incomprehensible even in a time of Trumpism. It’s hard to understand how those policies are anything but Social Darwinism tantrums on steroids, as well as an attempt to reelect Trump, regardless of the human costs.