During the 2016 Presidential election, I often compared the Republican Establishment attacks against Donald Trump to those that Chris McDaniel faced when he ran for Senate two years earlier against Thad Cochran. Even though Trump successfully overcame the massive attacks launched against him while McDaniel’s campaign was narrowly defeated by the sleazy tactic of coercing Democrats to vote in a Republican runoff, both battles were David versus Goliath — outsider versus Establishment — drain-the-swamp affairs.
What President Trump’s victory has shown is that the system can still work if “We The People” will stand together and vote for people who have the best interests of America in their heart instead of the best interests of the pocketbooks of themselves, their cronies and their donors on the brain.
Donald Trump told us from Day 1 that he would put America first. A lot of us put our trust in him and, in spite of what the mainstream media will tell you, the country has benefitted immensely from that trust. I shudder at the thought of what our country would look like today if Hillary Clinton was our president. I doubt we could have survived another four years of Establishment politics, whether it be of the Obama, Bush or Clinton variety.
But our work to drain the Establishment swamp has just started. Mississippi’s swamp is deeper than most, with wily Barbour crocodiles lurking amongst the algae to make sure that their special interests are protected at all costs.
Ask yourself this very simple question: Why would they go to the lengths they did to make sure that decrepit octogenarian Thad Cochran, a man who had already been in the Senate for 36 years and someone who was obviously not going to be able to complete his term, defeated McDaniel?
It’s really not that hard to figure out. Cochran was part of the swamp that would make sure that special interests, not the American people, were the priority. McDaniel, like Trump, was a wild card who couldn’t be counted on to toe the Establishment’s party line, so they pulled out every dirty trick in the book to defeat him — even thwarting the will of their own party by calling on Democrats. This should still disgust every red-blooded, patriotic Mississippi Republican who cares about the legitimacy of the party itself.
With that being said, McDaniel made a brilliant political move by dropping out of the Senate race versus Roger Wicker and inserting himself back in the race for the seat that the Republican Establishment stole from him. Even though Wicker may be of the same Establishment ilk as Cochran, his Senate seat didn’t come with the leftover stench that the Cochran seat has on it.
One thing that the abbreviated Wicker-McDaniel run showed us is a preview of the kind of attacks Chris is going to face versus Cindy Hyde-Smith, Gov. Bryant’s Establishment pick to fill the seat. Wicker’s negative television ad, which paints McDaniel as a hater of all things Trump, is patently false. And I know this for a fact.
During the 2016 Republican primaries, while Chris was heading up Ted Cruz’s campaign here in Mississippi, I had the pleasure of attending one of McDaniel’s informal gatherings at his house. As some of you may recall, at that time, I had not only jumped all aboard the Trump train, but was shoveling coal as fast as I could to help the train gain speed. Chris made it perfectly clear that evening that he not only understood why people like me were supporting Trump, but said it was for the same reason that people like him were supporting Cruz. It was because red-blooded Americans were tired of Establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle who were putting themselves and their special interests ahead of the best interests of the American people.
As far as Chris was concerned, we were all on the same team — and we are. It is a “drain the swamp” team and McDaniel was trying to help drain the swamp two years before Trump started using the phrase.
As reported by Mark Thornton on the front page of the Dec. 10, 2009 issue of that gone-but-not-forgotten, great newspaper “The Review of Jones County,” Gov. Bryant told a group of Jones County Republican Women, “One Day, I’ll be rocking on the porch saying, ‘I was there when Chris McDaniel came into the Senate … and I knew that young man was going to make a difference. He’s what we need in a Mississippi governor or U.S. Senator.’” And now, nine years later, Bryant could have snapped his fingers and appointed Chris to the U.S. Senate seat that he had predicted for him — but he didn’t. Shame on the governor for kowtowing to the same Establishment that stole the seat from McDaniel in the first place. This, however, should harden the resolve of all of us who believe in justice, in democracy and in ending Establishment corruption.
We all must rally around Chris McDaniel. He is Mississippi’s Donald Trump. He is our Alamo. He is our swamp drainer. And, he is our native son.
He’s been stolen from, mistreated and unfairly attacked, and all because he wants to put the best interests of average Americans and average Mississippians ahead of special interests. It is our duty as responsible citizens to rise up and make sure that we right the wrong that happened in 2014. “We The People” must, once again, do as we did in the 2016 presidential election and take our government back from corrupt Establishment politicians. This time, we not only have to do it for America but for Mississippi.
Remember 2014. Remember our Alamo!.
Jim Cegielski is publisher of the Laurel Leader-Call. He lives in Laurel, MS.