I hesitated to speak up about the senate race in Mississippi. I had friends and family members on both sides. I didnâ€™t want any conflict. I also didnâ€™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 wouldnâ€™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 weâ€™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 â€œgetting the federal government out of Mississippi.â€
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 donâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 Kateâ€™s Facebook page for â€œevidenceâ€ to use against her father. I can assure you that my Facebook posts do not represent the political views of my father. Kateâ€™s politics are not Thadâ€™s politics. She has never pretended that they were. What I see in Kateâ€™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.