As I predicted after the primary runoff, Democrats in Mississippi have taken to using race as a means to call attention to their gubernatorial candidate. While Johnny DuPree’s camp has consistently refrained from such discussions, as any astute campaign manager would advise in Mississippi (hat tip to Sam Hall), the liberal pundits in the Mississippi mainstream media are surely chomping at the bit to focus on race. After all, it is Mississippi.
Bill Minor recently wrote an article which appeared in the Clarion Ledger that stated:
“…There’s no question DuPree’s win was good for black pride, but in the real world of politics in present-day Mississippi, black pride is not enough to take you past the winner’s finish-line. While difficult for black Mississippians to accept this reality: No African-American can be elected to statewide office in Mississippi, particularly the governorship.
“A prime example of that reality came in 2003: Gary Anderson who had years of experience as a governmental affairs and financial counselor, and had been director of the state Department of Finance and Administration, won the Democratic nomination for state treasurer. His Republican opponent was a 29-year-old Jackson bank employee named Tate Reeves.
“Anderson is black; Reeves is white. Reeves was elected…”
Minor’s frame of mind is exactly what continues to hold Mississippi back. Liberal pundits are content to paint Mississippians as more focused on race than the actual issues at hand, as if we only see the color of one’s skin and not their political ideology. This is not surprising since their national counterparts do the same.
Black legislators often act in a similar manner when they stand in the well of the House or Senate and expound on the issue of race as opposed to what is good public policy. We witnessed this in the recent special session when the House Democrats were urging to add $2 million to the economic development bond bill for a study on minority disparity. Black legislators and their fellow Democrats rose to support the additional funding, not on the basis of sound public policy, but simply out of what they claim as racial inequality.
However, for the majority of Mississippians in 2011, the issue of race is a non-issue, that is unless a leader calls it to mind for personal or political gain. It just so happens that in our state a large number of blacks are Democrats and align themselves ideologically with the liberal party. Mississippians by and large are not concerned with whether a candidate is black or white or lime green for that matter; a majority of Mississippians in today’s society are overwhelmingly conservative, thus they vote along those lines for the conservative candidate, which more often than not, just happens to be white. Race and skin color no longer hold sway over the average Mississippian; political philosophy has trumped such shallow ideals, as it should.
In light of this discussion, I am reminded of a piece I wrote for The Daily Caller back in April 2010 entitled “One Citizenship.” The words written then seem to take on new life as we once again face racial claims during a campaign cycle here in Mississippi. I wrote:
“…Racial or ethnic equality is the driving force behind so many of our ills today, and yet the debate still rages because we as citizens allow it to persist and linger. Some even propagate its existence to stir animosity and resentment, to garner political favor, and to justify and satisfy their own personal prejudices. These vultures strive to divide; they fight against unity…
“…We must move past labels and reclaim our national identity, not as individuals, but as one citizenship in this Republic. Such unity can only begin in the depths of each soul, which will require exploration into ones deepest sense of self…
“…My ancestry nor my ethnic background make me who I am. I live in this present condition, at this time in history, and am tasked with serving my fellow man and my God right here, right now. My eye is fixed on the future, not the past, for I cannot change those who came before me; I may only learn and gain wisdom from studying where they erred, determining to not falter where they faltered, and at times celebrating their achievements.
“Running through my veins is blood that was created by the Almighty right here in America, not Europe or Asia or Africa. In ages past, whoever courted my kin to these shores of freedom and by whatever trials befell them on their journey is of no true consequence to me now. While it is indeed enlightening to learn those lessons, dwelling on such things would only serve to divide me from my neighbor. I live today and strive to live on for tomorrow, not for myself, but for my Lord, my family and my community.
“I cannot thank my Creator enough for placing me in such a liberating place. Thanks be to God that I was born an American. I am not white or black, Anglo-Saxon or African-American, Hispanic or Vietnamese, Baptist or Catholic, Jew or Hindu. I am simply an American, and that is enough. Such is the essence of our hope and existence as one citizenship in this Republic.
“Those who seek to label and wander in the midst of confusion and lore seek only to stir emotions for their own causes. We are people, not pawns. I do not condone nor do I support many past actions in my own beloved country, actions that at times have divided families, neighbors, and countrymen. But my hope is not in the past; my hope is not in the present; my hope is in the future and in the Republic I strive for each day in my own minute way and would die to protect should that be required of me.
“When we as Americans begin to see this common thread weaving each of us together and we lay down our pride and our labels of prejudice and division, this country will flourish beyond any of our imaginations. If America is ever going to overcome and reach its destined potential, we must openly and without shame or malice address this wound and nurture it to health. The scars may linger, but it is our choice not to prick those sensitive areas as it mends.
“I ask you today to join me in promoting one citizenship in this Republic. Our preferences, philosophies, and ideologies may differ in the church house, school house, or White House, but our one citizenship should always guide us in overcoming any self serving motives, striving together as fellow Americans within a spirit of unity, humility, and respect for our countrymen…
“…Discard the labels and antiquated mentality. Proclaim yourself as an American, no more, no less, and be proud of it.”
As we move toward November and beyond, I truly hope our Mississippi can be one citizenship and call on all to focus not on race, but on the issues of the day and the ideologies at play.