Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Oklahoma farmer -- torn between GOP, Democrats

Herding a dozen bawling calves through a wooden chute and onto a trailer is the easy part for Lee Roy and Wilma Jameson. The couple has been working cattle here on the gentle hills west of Oklahoma City ever since 1948 when they rented a dairy barn and bought 160 acres with a government loan.

The hard part is trying to figure out for whom to vote on Nov. 2.

About these ads

The Jamesons like the Republican pitch of pruning taxes and clipping big government's wings. They liked the election-eve promises President Reagan delivered on his swing through the farm belt last week. They hope he will fulfill his promises to:

* Sell more surplus grain to the Soviets by guaranteeing a six-month moratorium on grain embargoes.

* Sell more grain to other customers by providing easier credit.

* Turn more government-owned grain stocks into gasohol.

But the Jamesons would have preferred to have Reagan back these measures a year ago when farm groups and Democratic congressmen first said they were needed to repair the battered farm sector. The Jamesons are also committed to maintaining government support for education and care for the elderly.

As farmers, the Jamesons would like to ''get the government out of farming.'' However, as Mr. Jameson explains in the middle of fields already green with next spring's winter wheat crop, ''If the government is going to tell us how much we can plant and how much we can ship overseas, then the government has got to continue furnishing us with some kind of support programs.''

Neighboring farmer Carl Rott finds it easier to pick candidates. ''I think Reagan is doing as good a job as possible under the circumstances,'' Mr. Rott says. ''Less government is the answer,'' he explains, adding that ''all this mess started under (Franklin) Roosevelt in the '30s with the giveaway programs that just kept getting bigger and bigger.'' Rott, along with three other farmers sharing a table in Calumet's one lunchroom, plan to vote Republican to give the President enough support to carry on with his programs.

About these ads

Lee Roy Jameson, however, hasn't decided how he will vote. Saying he is a registered Democrat ''but most generally I vote Republican,'' Jameson agrees that ''Reagan needs more support in Congress, and more than that he needs more support with the everyday people, the people who put Reagan in. But when he goes to cut programs, these people start shouting.''

Despite his general support, Jameson finds himself diverging from the Reagan administration in specific areas. He opposes cuts in education, social security, and programs for the elderly. On defense spending Jameson says, ''I think the President is going overboard on putting out so much money.''

Before cutting back spending for education and the elderly and before increasing defense spending, Jameson says the government should cut waste and corruption. He says he knows military spending is wasteful from his own Army days. He says he knows that a nearby military base signed a contract recently for radar equipment based on favors received when ''it should have been based on the merits of the radar.''

In the governor's race, Jameson leans toward Democratic incumbent George Nigh. Jameson, whose own work on county boards has shown him the waste in local government, is attracted by GOP challenger Tom Daxon's campaign promise of a 15 percent cut in state taxes. But, says Jameson, ''I just don't feel like putting some programs in jeopardy, like the old people's programs and education.''

''The government just can't do everything for everybody,'' Jameson says, ''and that's what it seems like some liberal Democrats are still trying to do.'' So Jameson won't find it easy to vote for Democrats. Yet he wants to help education and the elderly more than many Republican candidates seem to favor.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.