November 6, 2019

Is There Any Hope for Mississippi?

Southern mansion

I voted in Mississippi's statewide election yesterday. I've noticed in previous elections in Mississippi that the Democratic Party does not always bother to run candidates for various positions, but this was far worse on yesterday's ballot than anything I remember before. While they did manage to find Democratic candidates to run for most of the statewide races, this was far from true for the other races. The ballot was at least 4 pages long, and it seemed like the last 2 pages were filled with uncontested Republicans.

At first, I found myself feeling angry about this. My anger quickly dissipated and was replaced by a sense of hopelessness. What was the point? Democrats do not win elections here. The vast majority of my neighbors would never consider voting for someone who didn't have "Republican" next to their name. And why would they? Many of them were raised to view Democrats as traitors (or worse). It doesn't matter that the state is failing in more ways than I can count; they are going to keep electing members of the party who have been presiding over the failure. And they'll keep doing that because they have grown up believing that the other party is far worse and that Jesus was a Republican.

The state Democratic Party has limited funds, and I don't imagine they are inclined to spend them supporting candidates who haven't any chance of competing. It would be easy to blame people qualified for political office for not stepping forward to run, but why would they put themselves through that when they have almost no chance of success? Unless they can successfully use a failed race to boost their public profile for some other purpose, I would not think it would be very attractive.

When it comes to Mississippi, this is probably the main source of my pessimism. Many of my neighbors agree that it is fundamentally broken, but few stop to think about how voting for more of the same guarantees that nothing will be fixed. The few times I've seen some approach that sort of consideration, everything is quickly swept away with Jesus. I get to hear about how the Democrats are "baby killers" or want to ban Christmas.

We had an interesting governor's race this year. The Republican, Tate Reeves is a typical far-right Christian extremist sort of Republican who has had both Donald Trump and Mike Pence here to campaign for him. He was up against Democrat, Jim Hood, one of the rare Democrats to hold a statewide office (Attorney General). What makes it interesting is that Hood is probably more conservative than the Republicans in many states. If there was ever a Democrat that Mississippians should be able to vote for, I would think it would be him. That said, it was no surprise that Reeves won. After all, he's a Republican and not just an extremely conservative Democrat. Praise Jesus!

At the risk of sounding overly pessimistic, I think that the rest of the U.S. had better brace themselves for a big dose of something along these lines when it comes to climate change. We aren't going to do anything meaningful about it because we'd rather keep doing what we're doing and because that's what Jesus wants. We'll continue to complain about it as the impact worsens, but it is difficult to imagine that we will take the steps that would be needed to make a difference until long after it is too late. I think the youth are right to be pissed about this, but I'm not sure all the anti-boomer sentiment is where they should be focusing their attention. At least, I think Mississippi's problems are far more pervasive than anything limited to people of that generation.