Like most Southern mothers, mine often reminded me, “You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.” As I’ve aged I have quite often employed such wisdom in various areas of life, politics notwithstanding.
When you hold an elected office, especially on a board or in a legislative body, you must be able to whip votes, build coalitions, and work with colleagues to achieve your goals.
Yes, intra-party struggles will come, but the understanding that your values are similar should be kept at the forefront of how you operate. You don’t burn bridges or pick unnecessary fights to make colleagues appear one way or another in an effort to raise your own profile. You operate within the parameters you’re handed to the best of your ability to make the most impact, and you do so with a decorum that lends itself to advancing your cause, not stifling it.
And if you endorse someone that loses in a primary race, you find a way to mend fences with the one who won. Why? Because being on an island does you nor your constituents any good; after all, you are there to represent their interests, not your own.
It would appear the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition has dredged up enough muck to place themselves on such an island.
The Coalition’s overt divisiveness is not helping their cause, nor is it allowing them to make an impact on behalf of their constituency. Needed dialogue is getting lost in self serving rhetoric, unnecessary zingers, and future political ambitions.
We saw this in the Mississippi Senate this week with the vote to defund the nearly $700,000 common core line item from the education appropriation bill. The Senate Conservative Coalition was only able to whip 11 votes, this on an issue they have been promoting all across the state.
Since that vote Coalition members have taken to chiding their colleagues over not siding with them. They even appeared on Supertalk’s Paul Gallo Show to continue the narrative.
State Sen. Brice Wiggins tweeted to Supertalk, “Your guests only managed 11 votes on their year long quest to stop CC (Common Core) #noteffective.”
The issues the Coalition are promoting (i.e. halting Common Core, fiscal restraint on state indebtedness, etc.) are worthy goals that warrant an aggressive review and merit an open discussion. Mississippi needs to encourage robust conversations on such pressing political hot potatoes.
But the political reality of the way they are playing their hand has, as Wiggins also recently described it, driven a wedge between the members of the Coalition and the rest of the chamber. The Coalition’s concerns cannot be heard over the political power play they have created.
Whether the handful of state senators in the Senate Conservative Coalition like him or not, Tate Reeves is the Lieutenant Governor and the presiding officer in the Mississippi Senate for at least one more legislative session, quite possibly for the next five. That’s just reality. It would behoove them to find common ground with Reeves instead of consistently running to social media or talk radio to openly bash the Lieutenant Governor and their fellow Republicans when they disagree, that is if they truly want to have legislation considered and represent their constituents’ interests.
Yes, Lt. Gov. Reeves has a part to play in this drama as well and should at some point address the disenchantment of these senators in regards to how bills are assigned, but his actions or inactions should not dictate the Coalition’s characterization of itself.
Momma also told me, “Don’t let how others behave lead you off a cliff. If they jumped off a cliff, would you?”
The Coalition controls how they act, what they say, and how they work with their colleagues, including Reeves.
If the Coalition’s primary goal is to ensure that good, conservative legislation is passed then it should stick to the mission minus the personal jabs, whining, wailing, and name calling. They aren’t being heard and the concerns of their constituents aren’t being advanced with the rhetoric. Save such divisive diatribes for Tico’s.