As this midterm campaign season winds down, to the relief of most of the nation, a new one is just getting underway in Mississippi. Next year state elections will determine the occupants of every state office and control of the legislature. And there is ample evidence that Governor Phil Bryant is slyly shifting his political position in order to gain the support of the state’s vast conservative bloc of voters.
During the summer months, Governor Bryant came out against Common Core, the hotly debated education program loathed by conservatives across the country, even though Thad Cochran supports it.
We have a few questions for him: What took so long? Common Core has not changed, so why did you wait until now? Where were you when conservatives took a stand against it on the Senate floor?
The answer is pretty simple. He was not facing re-election when the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition, led by Senator Chris McDaniel, was facing off against Common Core. He was not facing a split party.
Just wait, Governor Bryant is only the first among many Mississippi pols that will join the call to end Common Core in the upcoming legislative session. But last year it could have ended, yet Governor Bryant remained silent.
But Common Core is only one issue that he seems to be shifting on, or at least more loudly advocating. In his speech at the conservative-rich Neshoba County Fair, in which he proclaimed publicly his opposition to Common Core, he also stoked the fires of illegal immigration, suggesting that he might even send the Mississippi National Guard to Texas to aid Governor Rick Perry’s effort to stop the surge of illegals crossing the border.
In his latest ploy, Bryant is praising Senator Chris McDaniel in McDaniel’s own backyard in Jones County. A heavily GOP-dominated area, Jones County went for McDaniel by a more than 10-to-1 margin in the June primary and run-off. In an obvious and pathetic attempt to warm to Jones Countians, Bryant praised Senator McDaniel, telling a crowd that he has “a bright future” ahead of him. “Chris is a dear friend of mine,” the Governor said. “I know it’s been tough on Chris and tough on his family.” The issue is “in the courts now, so we’ll see what the courts decide,” Bryant said. “Chris McDaniel will have a future in whatever he chooses to do, and I continue to hope the very best for him, whatever that may be.”
To this we have still more questions: Why did you wait until now to praise Senator McDaniel? Where were you when the Barbour/Cochran machine was smearing your “dear friend”? Why did you not stand up as the state’s governor and call for an end to sleazy election tactics? Why did you not take a stand for a free and fair election process?
Had Governor Bryant done so, perhaps things wouldn’t have deteriorated to the point they have. But he decided to play politics instead, just like he is doing now.
We have witnessed on social media, even those who call themselves true conservatives, praising Bryant’s “new” stance. Are we going to also praise Lt. Governor Tate Reeves if he decides to support legislation that he killed last year in the Senate? Are we going to praise the others who voted to fund Common Core one year, but then in an election year decide to vote to end it?
First of all, we should never praise a politician for doing their job and carrying out the promises they made to voters. But even more than that, we should never praise a politician for shifting his position on important issues, even if it is in the right direction, with a re-election campaign upcoming. That should be blatantly transparent to us all by now.
As our state election season approaches, let us all consider how our leaders voted for their full term in office, not just those cast in the months before the vote. Let us be ever mindful of the positions they hold throughout their time in public service. Please remember when they fought for what was right and when they didn’t. Don’t let them fool us once again.