Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sleeping with the enemy

This title may be a trifle melodramatic, but it fits the downfall of two of Mississippi's Democratic representatives.

I hate to say “I told you so,” and I hate to belabor a point, but the events of last night make it hard to go anywhere else.

I was not terribly surprised that Travis Childers lost to Alan Nunnalee last night, but I was a bit surprised that the coast tossed out Gene Taylor, who has been their staunchest defender and coastal workhorse for so long, but looking at his recent actions as well as his long-standing conservative stances, it’s hard not to compare what happened to him with what happened to Childers.

I haven’t heard anyone else voicing this opinion, but here is how I see it: Both of these men spent time courting folks who wouldn’t vote for them no matter what they did (as long as the “D” sat beside their name). That time would have been better spent courting their own moderates and independents, who were important (even pivotal, in Childers’ case) to their election last time. Both men trashed their own side, trying to curry favor with the radical right-wingers in the state, and not only frittered their time and money away on those futile attempts, but in the process, de-energized crucial portions of their electorate.

These two went too far right and distanced themselves (to the point of de facto attacks) from their own party leadership.If they had read Yall and Majority in Mississippi, it would been more than apparent that trying to curry favor with the right was useless anyhow.

I don’t want to vote for someone who will say whatever is politically expedient, and vote whatever way is politically expedient. I held my nose and did it, but a lot of folks who don’t lean strongly right simply didn’t care enough to vote. I can’t say that I blame them too much this year, particularly since there doesn’t seem to be a substantive difference between Childers and Nunnalee, other than their party – and being affiliated with a party that put a half-black man in the Presidency seems to be the death knell to too many in the state of Mississippi.
It’s not sure that working on their bases and ignoring the naysayers on the other side would have won their races for them in Mississippi, but they might have squeaked by, and if not, lost less handily to their opponents, and at least retained their dignity and showed the courage of their convictions, had they had the guts to do it.

Look at the one man who stayed true to his base – Bennie Thompson. There’s a lot of dissatisfaction with Bennie, and not only from the Republicans in his district, but he’s still in office. There was no pandering to the opposition in his case. I understand that he had more favorable numbers than the other two guys, but to go further afield – look at Harry Reid. He embraced who he was, he played to his base, not to the opposition, he had help from Obama, and he squeaked by in spite of some heavy money on the other side. I have been fairly critical of Reid for numerous reasons in the past, but I can’t fault him this election.

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