Commentary: The doom of a special election

November 28, 2018 in News

By Othor Cain,

Editor,

Hyde-Smith

Hyde-Smith

Espy

Espy

Some white Mississippians voted for hate Tuesday while most black Mississippians voted for hope. The special election for U.S. Senate in the magnolia state clearly boiled down to deciding between the future or the past, between coming together or dividing a state even more.

There was a clear difference in the candidates on the ballot this week. Mississippians, over the course of the last three weeks of the campaign, got a glimpse of the real Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to replace Thad Cochran when he resigned for health reasons.

On Nov. 2, after a supporter praised her, she said, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Her Facebook page shows a photo of her wearing a Confederate soldier cap while holding a musket, with a caption: “Mississippi history at its best.” She was also caught on video saying, “There’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”

After being outed, she said she was joking. Some local pastors also said she was joking.  No, those comments weren’t a joke, not in Mississippi with its history of lynching and violent voter suppression; they are blatant racial appeals. For you biblical scholars, one only has to read the gospel according to Matthew; there in Chapter 12 verse 34, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

This is who Hyde-Smith is. Her comments were so hateful that Walmart, Major League Baseball, Union Pacific, Pfizer, Amgen, AT&T and others asked for the return of donations they made to her campaign. Though symbolic in gesture, they made for good headlines.

Jesse Jackson wrote: “Mississippi has been notorious for its racial divisions. “Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” Nina Simone used to sing. This is where lynching was used to intimidate African Americans in opposition to the emancipation of the slaves. This is where civil rights activists were murdered for the crime of simply trying to register people to vote.”

This is the choice that Mississippi made Tuesday.

However, I contend that the best choice, the clear choice was Mike Espy, the first black Mississippian to be elected to Congress since Reconstruction and the first black Secretary of Agriculture, appointed by Bill Clinton.

Espy vowed on the campaign trail that he would work to increase paid family leave and the minimum wage and he supported expanding Medicaid funding. His campaign was a call for Mississippi to move forward.

The majority of the people in Mississippi did not have the courage to move forward. Clearly the hate was too massive to overcome; the fear far too crippling. Poor white Mississippians voted against their own interest and now we will all suffer as a result.

See photos page 18.