I hesitated to speak up about the senate race in Mississippi. I had friends and family members on both sides. I didn’t want any conflict. I also didn’t think that Chris McDaniel had a real chance. I thought most of the support for him was concentrated in Jones County and that he wouldn’t generate the same level of enthusiasm statewide. I was somewhat correct about that, but I underestimated the degree to which Jones County would turn out for the election in proportion to the rest of the state.
I hesitated because I thought I would be dismissed by my Republican friends as being too liberal to have a say. I thought I would open myself up for attack in a way that I lacked the time and energy to deal with. After seeing the results of the primary in which the vote in Mississippi split down the middle in just as contentious a manner as we’ve seen at the national level for the past several presidential elections, I felt like I needed to start sharing a few basic facts. Obviously, education is close to my heart, particularly two-year college education, so I have been sharing articles related to education, hoping at least a few people would stop and think about what they are really asking for in “getting the federal government out of Mississippi.”
After seeing my friend Kate Cochran attacked, and deliberately misconstrued, for supporting her father, the nastiness of this political climate that we have now brought home to Mississippi has become a little too personal for me. I want the chance to say that I stand by Kate in supporting her father, and I want the chance to say why.
I know that I am viewed as a liberal by many of my nearest and dearest in Mississippi, but I see myself as a moderate. I am not being disingenuous in supporting Thad Cochran now. I did not come late to the game. I have been voting for Thad Cochran since I was old enough to vote. Please don’t take that as proof that he is liberal enough to appeal to someone who also liked Bill Clinton. I have voted for Cochran when I adamantly disagreed with his votes in the Senate. I never once thought he was in the same political camp as Clinton. I thought he was far more conservative. I voted for him, despite disagreeing with him, because I love my state, and I thought he was the best thing for Mississippi even if I wasn’t always pleased with where he stood on national issues. I voted for him because I respected him. I voted for him because I knew how much he was doing to protect the schools and to protect the economy in Mississippi. I voted for him because I trusted him to be levelheaded no matter what his politics. I voted for him because I knew that if something went wrong in Mississippi, he would do everything in his power to help.
If Thad Cochran wins the runoff, I will vote for him again in the general election. My support now is not bait-and-switch. I stand with Thad.
I will not vote for McDaniel if he wins the runoff. I will vote for Travis Childers in that case. This is not because I am looking for the most liberal of the two. It is because I am looking for the least radical of the two. I am the middle political ground.
This morning I read an article posted by one of my Facebook friends that attacked my friend Kate Cochran for her words posted to Facebook a few days ago expressing support for her father and expressing distress at the current political climate in Mississippi. I too am distressed. I was distressed by the tone of the attack on Kate. I have been distressed by the tone of this election. I am distressed by the fact that the person who wrote the article had gone looking through Kate’s Facebook page for “evidence” to use against her father. I can assure you that my Facebook posts do not represent the political views of my father. Kate’s politics are not Thad’s politics. She has never pretended that they were. What I see in Kate’s unfailing support for her father is evidence of a loving family. What I see is evidence of levelheaded, intelligent people who can love and support each other no matter what their disagreements on particular issues. What I see is further evidence of the man I saw when I met Thad Cochran: a gentleman who works with people rather than against them while still standing firm in his own convictions. This is the kind of person I want representing me in Washington.
Thad Cochran has been a friend to the community college and to education as a whole in Mississippi. I know this because I have seen the results of his work firsthand. I am grateful for this, and he has my vote.
I do not want to see Mississippi go the way of national politics. I do not want to see us as a house divided against itself. I pray that we can all work together and respect each other and support each other. I pray that we can all bring to the table the spirit of family love and goodwill that I have seen embodied in Thad Cochran.