Mississippi’s Tea Party groups and Mississippi’s African-American communities have much in common. Both want a robust economy, good jobs, and a bright future for all our children. They also know now that neither has the votes to win elections without building coalitions beyond their base.
Many Mississippians feel offended, disenfranchised, and just plain gut-punched on both sides. And McDaniel has every right to pursue his constitutional court challenge as a candidate. (But when he says he won by 25,000 votes instead of losing by 7,667 votes I think he used the new Common Core mathematics!) The McDaniel camp and my fellow Tea Partiers have been called racists in ads without specific evidence, which is both unfortunate and unfair. But it numbs my mind to discover in McDaniel’s written challenge that “…Cochran’s vote increases were correlated to the percentage of blacks that live in each county.”
McDaniel’s camp does not understand the pain they are causing most African-Americans who voted in the Republican primary. Many blacks voted for Cochran on June 3, June 24, and plan to vote for him again in November. The defeated McDaniel’s complaints imply that if you are black and voted for Cochran then you were either coerced or paid to vote.
The pain of this Republican primary is real. God is teaching all Mississippians something special. Psalm 40:3 says sing a new song. After this election, Mississippi needs a new song. I am proud that many African-Americans felt comfortable voting in a Republican primary. Indeed, like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, I will continue to reach out to people of all colors, and encourage them to embrace the ideas and principles that I believe are best. Imagine the future of Mississippi if the Tea Party and the Freedom Riders wrote a new song together in the birthplace of America’s music.
It’s not going to happen. Chris McDaniel and his venomous attacks have made certain of that.
I agree that McDaniel has every right to challenge the runoff. But, it’s not what he’s done, it’s how he’s done it.
Doc, I feel compelled to reiterate here, something I’ve said both publicly and privately. I know your heart. And I know the heart of many Tea Party-affiliated people who do not harbor ill-will to people of color and minorities. I’m particularly impressed with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s initiative to reach out to historically black colleges and universities, and his position against the over-incarceration of minorities. But you and Rand Paul seem to be the exception and not the rule. Chris McDaniel and his vitriolic rants against “liberal Democrats” – a thinly veiled shot at African-American voters – have set political race relations back 20 years. Inspecting voter registries? No problem. Making sure that there were no cross-over votes? Absolutely fair game. But to actually say that blacks don’t have the right to vote for – have a part in choosing – a Republican? He should have kept those thoughts to himself.
Those who rail against blacks voting for Thad Cochran seem to forget that blacks have been voting for Thad Cochran for years. He has seemed to be a fair-minded, open-minded public servant. Cochran has supported health care for children and Head-start. African-Americans have appreciated his support of these issues, however tacit.
It’s unfortunate that McDaniel and his advisers failed to exercise the astute political savvy necessary to demonstrate they can be major players in the rough and tumble of Mississippi politics. But it showed a total lack of judgment and political acumen of a novice in blaming others for their shortcomings.
Perhaps McDaniel and his staunch Tea Party faction just have a message problem. But they definitely sent the wrong message.
Dr. Ed Holliday is a Tupelo dentist who has written two successful books. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Rev. James Hull is an award-wining journalist and a political consultant. You may contact him at email@example.com.