Saying Goodbye.

Saying Goodbye. May 19, 2014


I am leaving the Oklahoma legislature. Last week was a week of formal goodbyes.

I gave a farewell speech to the House, which you can watch, if you’d like. Go here to see the video. The House Democrats held their annual Sine Die Party, and roasted me and other departing legislators. The Democratic Legislative Assistants prepared a delicious luncheon (Covered dish. All their best cooking. It was to die for.) with a cake with all our names and said another round of good-byes. I even got a small — and lovely — good-bye editorial in the Oklahoman.

We are still in the busiest time of the legislative process. We haven’t shut down. Not at all. That means I’m going to be tres busy until we actually do sine die. (Sine die is the motion we make to adjourn the legislative session.) But I am grateful beyond words to my colleagues for giving me these many avenues of good-bye.

Each of these things is a rite of passage for what has to be a huge transition in my life. Leaving the legislature is a little bit like a soldier, coming home from a war. You are leaving a combative, total environment which engages you on every level and returning to a world that now seems out of kilter by comparison.

Wherever people are for a period of time, that becomes their normal. Normal for me has long ago become the totally unreal world of elected politics.

At the same time, I am way past glad to be leaving. God gave me something like marching orders for the rest of my life a few years ago when I was sitting in the cathedral at Fatima. I’ve dithered since then, occupied and preoccupied by the legislative wars and the many needs of my constituents. If you don’t think that these things are a 24/7 occupation that devours of all your thoughts and passions, then, you my friend, have never been a legislator.

Those of us who legislate or who have legislated know that there are very few jobs that swallow you whole like legislating does. It is difficult to disengage enough to maintain your friendships and family and retain something of your personality.

As for fulfilling the call that God gave me, I found it well nigh impossible. I need more than corners of time in my days to write the things He wants me to write. I’m not going to discuss in detail what I think this is all about. I have a lot of praying to do first.

I do know that I am not going to abandon the political process. I am also not going to stop writing about the intersection of public life and Christianity on this blog. I will, if anything, be a lot more free to talk about these issues now that I’m not bound to protect the privacy of so many people.

That is not to say that I will be talking about closed door conversations with my colleagues or divulging the almost endless private things that my constituents have shared with me through 18 years of elected office.

I have represented, cared for and cared about thousands of people for a very long time. In the course of that, many of them have opened their souls to me. I have never and I will never talk about the people who trusted me to be their voice in government and who honored me by opening their lives and hearts to me in conversations that were in fact and in truth non-sacramental confessions.

All these things I take with me to my grave.

What I will talk about is the intersection of public policy and publicly stated comments, actions, etc. I’ve operated for a long time using the standard that if something is published and circulated publicly, I can talk about it. That won’t change. It will, rather, be enhanced by the fact that I know what’s behind these things. I will be a lot less guarded in my opinions in the future when I do not have the responsibility for many thousands of people on my shoulders.

Christians in America have a mountain in front of us. After more than two hundred years of having things our way, we are faced with a society in which we are beleaguered. We live in post Christian America. Our task is to re-convert our nation to Christ.  Right now, we are not up to that task. We are, in fact, confused, divided and overawed by our opposition.

That’s what I’m going to write about. Because somebody needs to do it. And because I am uniquely qualified for the job.



My favorite Representative Hamilton photo. From Rose Day 2014. 

I tried to remember to thank everyone in this speech, but I somehow forgot to mention — even though I wrote their names down and they were right in front of me — two of the most important people. Louise Scoles, who fought for my election and was my sponsor when I entered the Catholic Church. And George Violette, my brother by another mother, who is family in every way except blood. I love both of you.

The “Tony” I introduce in the video is Tony Lauinger, president of Oklahomans for Life and Vice President of National Right to Life. He is my friend. I know that he will remain my friend after I leave office.

If you want to watch the speech, go here.


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54 responses to “Saying Goodbye.”

  1. What a hard decision to make and I’m sure you’ll be missed by your colleagues on both sides of the aisle. You have served long and as much as you liked serving those you represent, it is time to do other things. Selfishly, I’m glad you aren’t giving up this blog! Take good care.

  2. The video didn’t play for me. I don’t know if congratulations are in order, but whatever is the proper way to respond consider it done from me. I want to wish you the best in your future. Hopefully that includes writing up blogs and participating as a citizen in the things you are most interested in. God bless.

  3. Very classy. Nice speech! I’m sure God has something special in mind as you continue to serve Him in new ways.

  4. Congratulations on your two tours of duty in the House of Representatives. Was the first tour of duty before your conversion and was the second after your conversion or did your conversion happen during one of them?

    Today, Secretary of State Kerry is speaking at Boston College’s commencement. Pro-life Catholics will be protesting him receiving an honorary degree. They blame him for not voting (as a senator) in accordance with Catholic teaching. I know that you made every effort to vote in accordance with Catholic teaching following your conversion.

    I am against that. I have more respect for Kerry having voted according to his own conscience (or according to the way the people who elected him wanted him to vote) rather than according to the teachings of the Church. Having said that, I do have a lot of respect otherwise for your service. No one can take that away from you.

    • It’s not like Boston College is Catholic anymore anyway. You’ve proven to me that the Catholicism of the NorthEast United States has become a bit of an empty shell. Kerry is as Catholic as you are- playacting Catholic on the outside, secular atheist on the inside.

    • Bill, are you saying that Kerry’s conscience is informed and guided by the people who elected him? I always felt that our conscience was (and is) formed (and informed and guided) by the sanctifying grace received through our Baptism (in addition to the other graces and charisms received through other applicable Sacraments). Rep Hamilton chooses to serve God; and the teachings of the Catholic Church, vice the whims of man. Kudos to Rep Hamilton; shame on Sec Kerry.

      • Conscience can be formed by a number of ways. Catholic conscience is formed through indoctrination even though some believe it is from a supernatural source. Most people know that.

        • It is not formed by “indoctrination,” Bill S. It’s formed by the Truth, as taught by Christ. By studying and learning why God teaches certain doctrines, Christians learn the error of their ways. That’s called growing.
          Those who reject the teachings of Christ, tend to regress back to man’s fallen, barbaric nature.
          I ask you again, why is it wrong for Catholic politicians to base their decisions on the teachings of the Catholic Church?

          • Those who reject the teachings of Christ, tend to regress back to man’s fallen, barbaric nature.

            I know of plenty of people who reject those teachings and have not regressed to barbarism. Don’t you?

        • I guess I’m not one of the “enlightened ones”…darn…maybe one of these days…
          I don’t like to argue much. So I recommend Nick from Detroit’s post.
          In the meantime, I’ll pray for you and yours.
          Hail Mary!
          Blessings to you Bill S.

    • the difference between the two is that Rebecca has integrity and Mr. Kerry does not. Catholicism is not a religion that you can accept bits and pieces of it and still consider yourself a Catholic in good standing.

    • ” I have more respect for Kerry having voted according […] to the way the people who elected him wanted him to vote […].”

      That is nothing to respect in an elected representative. The segregationist Southern Democrats voted the way the people wanted them to vote, for almost a century. Was that just?

      Also, you seem to be implying that Christians need not apply to run for elected office. Why is it wrong for Catholic politicians to inform their consciences according to the teachings of the Catholic Church?
      I don’t think you understand what it means to be a member of the Catholic Church.
      The Church doesn’t “tell them how to vote,” or, what to believe. The Church has a set of Dogmas and doctrines. You either except them, struggle with some of them (privately), or you reject them. Nobody forces you to be a Catholic.
      When you accept all of the teachings of the Church, you are member in communion with the one, holy, Catholic, apostolic Church. If you publicly reject many of Her teachings, you are either a dissenter, apostate, or heretic (although that term has lost favor in the past couple of centuries).
      Kerry, Pelosi, Biden, et al, lacked the courage to leave the Church publicly. Too many votes to lose, probably. What is there to respect about that?

  5. “Those of us who legislate or who have legislated know that there are very few jobs that swallow you whole like legislating does.”

    All the best vocations do, but if you’re called elsewhere, you need to follow that call.

  6. Oklahoma I’m sure will miss you. I wish you the best of luck as you walk down a new path. And if you’re going to write a book…I’ll be buying it. Reading your blog has given me a lot to think about, and I’m sure it will continue to do so.

  7. It’s nice to hear your voice–now I will have the “sound” to go with your words when I read your blog. 🙂

    Also, Congrats on your escape from the House. 😉 I hope you will find the next stage of your pilgrimage homeward to be an interesting and enjoyable one, with less stress. 🙂

      • Ha! No, your voice isn’t quite what I expected, any more than most radio folks look like what you envision from their voice, but it certainly fits you. 🙂
        I could tell you that I have my mom’s voice, but that doesn’t help you much. 😉 I guess I’d say mine is soft, lower-middle register, with a bland Northwesterner accent. Which means I can do a really good elevator voice. 😀

  8. Thank you for sharing your speech. I watched it with my teenagers. It provided a great base for wonderful dinner table conversation.

  9. Rep. Hamilton, Democrats once were as strong regarding religious freedom as Republicans (see RFRA), but now many Democrats seem to have abandoned that position. How can we get more Democrats to understand the necessity of supporting religious freedom in the United States?

    • KevClark, after we adjourn this legislative session, I am going to take a week away from everything to pray about my new direction in life. This is one of the things I am going to be praying about.

      I don’t want to go into it now, before I do that. But stay tuned.

      When I get back, we’ll start to work.

  10. Wow! There’s such a leadership vacuum these days, it’s hard to see the good ones leave. God certainly has big plans for you next and I look forward to your good counsel on how we can all make more of a difference in our public life. You are a great writer and thinker– my prayers and good wishes for you and what comes next!

  11. Thanks so much for so much thankless service. I am quite sure that the price paid by honest politicians in time, effort, energy, and therefore sacrifice is beyond the comprehension of nearly all their constituents. That price is doubled and trebled for those for whom ego gratification and/or higher office ambition hold little value.

    In your future endeavors, I hope you will have the opportunity to encourage others of like mind to serve in public office as well as giving them practical advice on constituent service, dealing with opposition, and the value of small victories, to name just a few of the skills they will need to develop.

    I am a relatively new reader of your blog, and greatly appreciate the perspectives you provide with such clarity and conviction, as well as your very gracious interactions with those who comment, sometimes not so graciously. God Bless!

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