We interrupt our coverage to bring you this special report.
We here at Y’allPolitics have had more than our fair share of fun goofing on all of the absolute absurdity that this Chris McDaniel challenge business has brought. Lord knows he deserves it. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving. There will be more, I promise.
But one thing occurred to me that I think is at the very core of the exercise that the Republican Party has gone through and is going through.
Other than on election night by Cochran himself, I can’t think of a single instance where leaders in the Mississippi Republican Party publicly and in a meaningful way said “thank you” to non-traditional voters, particularly black voters, for voting in a statewide Republican primary (many for the first time ever). It’s a big deal. Everyone (including Y’allPolitics) has gotten so caught up in the circus sideshow aftermath, that it’s been a glaring oversight. Some folks may be scared to say it. Others, it may not even occur to. Either way, it’s a mistake.
When you see someone new at church, you go up to them and you say, “Thanks for coming, and I hope you’ll come back.” Many people take not being noticed or not being thanked for their presence as a sign that they’re not wanted. When folks try something new, maybe they’ll see something they like. Maybe they won’t. But they’re there and should at the very least be acknowledged.
I think Mississippi Republicans (leaders, in particular) are missing a huge opportunity to officially, loudly and unapologetically say thanks. The implications to have meaningful (even low double digit) black participation in the Republican Party in Mississippi could literally change the equation for our state and serve as a model for our nation. Now, I’d be less than honest if I said that there aren’t some folks (in both the Republican and Democratic parties) who will scream the loudest in opposition because they feel like they would have the most to lose from that participation. Screw them; they can go jump in a lake.
Unfortunately, for the next couple of weeks, some folks who wave the Republican party flag are going to continue to say and do some pretty unfortunate things during this challenge business. Their rants against “Democrats” voting “illegally” are very politically calculated and racially motivated and it’s designed to draw (or redraw) a line for all the wrong political reasons. They’re not seeking “truth and justice”. They’re seeking “purity and fear”.
But know that they don’t represent the vast majority of McDaniel or Cochran voters on June 24. “Them” ain’t “us”. There are a whole lot more of “us” then there are of “them”. Some folks are waiting for a judge to say that McDaniel’s arguments aren’t OK, but what’s right is right and folks don’t really need a judge to see what’s really going on. After this whole deal goes to a judge, it’ll really be too late to be meaningful, so since I haven’t seen anyone else say it, I’m going to say it now.
Thank you to the black voters of Mississippi who voted in the Republican Primary in June. What you did was both historic and a good thing. I know that there can be a stigma attached to that and for many, it took a lot of faith to do that. Now, some of you may not come back for another visit, and that’s OK. I know we (traditional Republican voters and traditional non-Republican voters) don’t agree on everything, and that’s OK too. I know a lot of times at least some in our party do a crappy job of identifying the things that we agree on OR go unnecessarily out of our way to highlight things we don’t. (I can say the exact same thing for the Democratic Party as well.) For the adults among us, we know that our 70% friend isn’t necessarily our 30% enemy and we need to do what we can to help everyone feel welcome to support those Republican policies and leaders we agree on. I’m glad you stopped by. There’s room for you here. I hope you’ll come back.
By the way, we’re throwing a little party on November 4 and we’d love for you to stop by again.
That’s the way it was – Day 48-49 of the McDaniel Hostage Crisis.
Good day Mississippi – and good luck.
As stated on several occasions, the author of this piece has made a reportable campaign contribution this cycle in this race. Please factor that into your reading of this story.