By Dot Ward, Clarion Ledger, November 17, 2014
Charles Krauthammer, in his Washington Post column following the Nov. 4 general election, nailed it when he said in a “memo” to the GOP, “You had a great night on Tuesday. But remember: You didn’t win it. The Democrats lost it.”
How right he is! I dare say that many of the votes cast in Mississippi were not enthusiastically in support of the Republican Party. When Obama stated a month before the election that “these (Obama’s) policies are on the ballot — every single one of them” the American people spoke and they spoke loudly in rejecting those policies. It was not an endorsement of the GOP.
Joe Nosef, chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, in a recent op-ed piece touting the 60 percent statewide vote cast for Senator Cochran, states that “Mississippians can be proud of our Republican team in Mississippi and in Washington, D.C.”
As a life-long Republican, proud I am not, especially in the way the Republican primary was conducted. I lost a tremendous amount of respect for Haley Barbour and nephew, Henry, who used “big boss” tactics to affect the outcome of the run-off. Haley’s far reaching influence as former chairman of the Republican National Committee even squashed an effort by some in the RNC to censure the questionable and unethical tactics used in the senatorial primary run-off.
I also detest the Republican leaders of our state using the office they hold to endorse one Republican candidate over another Republican candidate in a primary election. This particular practice has been on the increase in recent elections and it does much to damage the party.
First off, the office holder does not own that office. It has been entrusted to him/her for a time by the vote of the people who elected them and should not be used to damage the candidacy of another candidate of the same party. Do those office holders realize that in using their office to endorse one candidate over another they are alienating those voters who support the other candidate? At some point this practice may come back to bite them.
In the most recent primary, almost every sitting Republican from congressman, to governor, to mayor, to dog catcher (and all those in-between,) publicly endorsed one candidate over the other. If the Party really wants, as Joe Nosef says, “to remain open and welcoming” this is not the way to go.
When the establishment gangs up on one candidate and shows favoritism publicly to one candidate (incumbent, or not) over another, it stifles the ability to attract young, viable candidates as office seekers. Who in their right mind would want to spend the money to mount a campaign to run in a Republican primary when they find they are not only running against opponents but running against sitting Republican office holders as well?
The Republican Party in Mississippi has seen phenomenal growth and success in recent years, but the damage done in the wrong-doing of the primary election has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many…especially conservatives. Former senator Trent Lott is right when he recently said that there may be “a need for change in party leadership.” The wealthy RINOs who are trying to be kingmakers and the disreputable political operatives need to go.
As far as the national scene goes, the Grand Old Party isn’t so grand anymore and the American people are dissatisfied with the direction the country is going. The Democrats are to blame since they have set the agenda but the Republicans have contributed to the downfall as well. With the decisive victory in the mid-term elections Republicans have been given the opportunity to prove that they can govern and move the country forward. But will they?
It’s high time for each and every member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, to forget about party and start thinking about what’s best for the country.
Dot Ward is a guest columnist for The Clarion-Ledger. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.