POINT: James Hull
Are we to understand that certain voters in Mississippi don’t have the same rights and privileges as everyone else? That’s the only conclusion one can possibly draw from Republican Chris McDaniel’s repeated harp that “liberal Democrats” were instrumental in incumbent Thad Cochran’s primary victory in the June 24 runoff.
Using McDaniel’s logic – Mississippi’s open primary election process notwithstanding – Democrats should not be allowed to vote for Republicans. It’s an odd posturing, considering in when Mississippi Republicans don’t have a primary and Democrats do, they crossover in droves and vote in the Democratic primary, thereby assuring their Republican candidate of an easier path to victory against a weak Democrat in the general election. In that historical context, McDaniel not only looks like a sore loser, he also appears a hypocrite.
And to make bad optics even worse, McDaniel and his camp have directed their venom particularly towards black Democrats. Is he saying that black voters should be restricted from voting for Republicans? Or is he saying that Republicans shouldn’t campaign for black votes? Either way, those optics cannot possibly make mainstream Republicans comfortable in their attempts to expand their base of voter demographics. And they feed into the existing notion – rightly or wrongly – that McDaniel and the Mississippi Tea Partiers are less than inviting of people of color.
Here are three questions Mr. McDaniel should consider as he continues to move forward with his childish rant:
• If the Tea Party is a grassroots organization, why did his campaign not vigorously and actively solicit grassroot black and Democratic votes as did Cochran’s?
• Is it his position that blacks and Democrats are not worthy of the uncompromising high ideals of the Tea Party?
• Since Mississippians do no register by party affiliation, and voting in black and Democratic precincts was virtually unchanged, could it be that Cochran’s margin of victory came from white Republicans?
And since he was the frontrunner who eventually lost, how can McDaniel ever really be sure why so many Mississippians, black and white, Republican and Democrat were afraid of his brand of politics?
COUNTERPOINT: Ed Holliday
James, you are asking some campaign questions that only Chris McDaniel can answer. I hope he will. Mississippi has just witnessed one of its most historic and contentious elections ever. On June 3, McDaniel had 157,733 reasons to celebrate. He did along with Tea Party groups around the state and nation. In the three weeks leading into the runoff, history pointed towards a big win for the challenger. Political experts proclaimed that rarely do more people vote in runoff elections and that an incumbent behind in the initial primary seldom won the runoff. Not only history was on McDaniel’s side, but momentum also seemed to be shifting his way as 29,532 more voters turned out for McDaniel on June 24.
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s campaign team finally came to life. Cochran himself got up at 3 a.m. in Jackson County to greet shift-changing shipbuilders. Suddenly he was seen all around the state. His campaign staff addressed the 766,111 Mississippians who voted for Thad in his last general election in 2008 and worked to get their support again.
Team Thad put on a full-court-press statewide to locate voters and found 38,617 more than the 156,315 who voted for him on June 3. James, as you pointed out, these cannot all be called liberal Democrats.
In post-election deliberations all Mississippians should find common ground on which to build each other up. If laws have been broken, let the authorities deal with the lawbreakers. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that as we ask for forgiveness that we should forgive those who trespass against us. There has been much political trespassing, social media gossiping, and many claims of strong Christian values.
As Jesus confronted a crowd about to stone an adulterer he said the one who was without sin could cast the first stone. Who is worthy enough to cast the first stone after this election?
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.