Earlier this week, the city of Ocean Springs passed a resolution to fly the Mississippi Flag at City Hall. The measure passed with six City Aldermen voting for the measure and one voting against it.
The public comment portion of the meeting included dozens of citizens voicing their opposition to the flag. Brian Rose, a Republican candidate for Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District, thanked the board for their courage to tackle the sensitive issue.
In a social media post, Rose wrote, “Tonight, I rose in favor of the process.” Rose said his speech was intended to inform the room full of anti-flag activists that options, like the ballot initiative, are available to all citizens. He urged them to use those options, rather than bully tactics on mayors and city board members. The city’s online broadcast of the meeting showed the crowd was unreceptive.
Since making the post, Rose has garnered attention from both sides of the field. Some thanked him for making common sense statements, while many in the anti-flag crowd took to name calling, saying supporting the process was supporting racism.
Today, Rose made the following Facebook post, doubling down on his respect for the process and chastising those who continue to use bully tactics to get their way.
Mississippians are split on the issue of our State Flag and, like many social issues, emotions run high on both sides. One side says the flag triggers hate, while the other side wants to preserve the historical identity of the state.
One thing both sides should agree on is the process of how we decide. Mississippi state law allows two pathways for getting a desired result.
The first is through our representative government. Each district elects officials. We decide who the best person is to represent us and place our trust in that person to vote on the issues accordingly.
The second pathway is through a ballot initiative. This system allows the citizens to circumvent the state legislature and place items on the ballot, to be voted on in a statewide election. This is the process I spoke about at this week’s Board of Alderman meeting in Ocean Springs.
Both pathways rely on a majority vote, whether by our elected representation or by the citizens, themselves. The problem is the anti-flag crowd is not open to either of these pathways.
Luarianne Manchester is the vice president of CAYA (Come As You Are) Mississippi. She recently wrote on Facebook, “I just don’t see when allowing the majority to decide for the minority works.” Charlotte Ferguson, an anti-flag activist, responded to Manchester’s post with, “I definitely don’t want a state wide vote.”
This type of attitude begs the question: If a majority rule is not the way this country should decide the issues, what is your alternative?
During the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, citizens gathered outside the closed doors in anticipation of finding out how the proceedings would turn out. When the doors opened, a woman named Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Clearly, Mr. Franklin foresaw a time when people would no longer want to play by the rules.
The dictionary defines a republic as, “A form of government in which power is explicitly vested in the people, who in turn exercise their power through elected representatives.” Many states, including Mississippi, offer one alternative to the republic form of government. The ballot initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed statute or constitutional amendment.
For those opposing the current State Flag, like with every other issue, the path is available to make the change you want, but instead, many choose a path of name calling, disruption, and misinformation.
I am certain the will of the majorities is always a better solution than the bullying of an angry mob. I am also certain the Founding Fathers and Architects of our nation felt the same.