28 October, 2007

Election 2007 in Mississippi

We have an election in a week and a half, and the local newspaper published summaries of the candidates' positions on various issues. I've also listened a little to news reports on the radio. Public radio has conducted nice interviews with major statewide candidates.

Consider these two questions:

  1. Which party's candidates have been playing up their status as good Christian fathers and husbands, advocating prayer in schools, and stating their intention to "protect marriage as a sacred vow between a man and a woman"?
  2. Which party's candidates have been playing up their competence and success at governing well?
If you answered (1) Republican and (2) Democrat, you'd be wrong. The statements quoted in (1) come from, in order:
  • Robert H. "Rob" Smith, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State;
  • John Arthur Eaves Jr., Democratic candidate for Governor (in a debate heard on the radio), and
  • Jamie Franks, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor.
I can't find a single reference to Christianity or sex from the Republicans, who are actually touting their accomplishments in running the state. Barbour is touting his management of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and has received the endorsement of a former official of the Clinton administration. Louisiana's governor, by contrast, is so unpopular that she chose not to run again, and as we saw last week a Republican won that election. For what it's worth, I've read that Katrina's effect on Mississippi was far worse than on Louisiana.

Strange, huh? Nothing like the media's depiction of the national scene, where Republicans are portrayed as obsessed with religion and sex, whereas Democrats are portrayed as secular and competent (including the Democrats that keep bribe money in their freezer).

Eaves' commercials bemoan the fact that Mississippi ranks lowest, or at best 49th, in most measures of prosperity and health, such as obesity, percent of children without health insurance, and test scores. What Eaves doesn't tell you is that during the century and a half before Barbour won his election, his party ran Mississippi more or less like PRI ran Mexico during the 20th century, or like Единная Россия runs Russia now, with this exception: Eaves' party excluded not so much people with different points of view, as people that lacked a sufficient number of ancestors with voting rights.

I wonder who will win?

Full disclosure: I have no intention of voting either for Barbour or for Eaves.

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