Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mississippi Goddam, part II

The Mississippi Senate Republican primary is probably the ugliest election of the year, as it pits a new Tea Party darling, Chris McDaniel, against longtime incumbent Thad Cochran.  Even former governor Haley Barbour has come under fire from the radical right wing  because of his support for Cochran.  It seems the good folks of Mississippi want to take the Magnolia State back to the days of slaves and cotton, not content with the current Republican status quo, which they feel is too close to Washington.  As Florence King wrote in her ribald memoirs of her time at Ole Miss, you have Good Ole Boys and you have Bad Good Ole Boys, although in this case it is pretty hard to tell them apart.

The odd part is the state has benefited greatly during Thad's tenure, so we'll call him the Good Ole Boy.  For every tax dollar the state has paid to the federal government its citizens have gotten three back.  So what's the fuss?  Isn't that what going to Washington is all about, seeing what you can bring back to your state?

Apparently, this no longer counts in the tea-colored world of radical Republican conservatives.  What they seem to want is to shut down federal government all together so that nobody gets anything except what they scrape together themselves.  This "Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps" mentality seems to be what drives the Tea Party.  Many Teabaggers no longer believe in paying taxes and feel the Bible trumps any federal law.  This is the people Chris McDaniel plays into with his rhetorical flourishes that date back to his days as a radio conservative talk show host.

McDaniel has also none too subtly wrapped himself in the Stars and Bars of the former Confederacy, taking campaign contributions from pro-confederate groups and speaking in terms that appeal to the good ole days of Dixie.

It seems that this maverick Republican lives in the same alternative world that so many Southern Teabaggers have come to inhabit, a world formed from the tattered mythology of the Old South.  They seem to imagine a place where the Confederate generals held their ground and the Union army retreated, allowing them to live out their antebellum days like Rhett and Scarlet in Gone with the Wind.  There was no siege of Vicksburg, much less Atlanta.  The South was able to live in the spirit of the Articles of Confederation, 11 separate entities bound by one flag, like the original colonies.

I've said many times before that what these radical conservatives want is not the Constitution, which it appears none of them ever read beyond the first two Bill of Rights, but the original Articles of Confederation that allowed the first 13 states to be virtually autonomous, with very limited federal oversight.  Yet, time and time again you hear these yahoos alluding to the Constitution as though they were the only ones upholding it, decrying the rest of us for straying from the narrow path.

Glenn Beck has gone so far as to distribute a petition for a new Constitutional Convention that would greatly delimit the powers of the federal government.  You might call it the anti-Constitutional Convention since under these conservatives' "rubric" it would nullify many of the federal powers contained in the original Constitution drawn up at the Convention of 1787.  I suppose they would also chop off many of the amendments added over the years, as they feel these attachments have greatly expanded the scope of the federal government.  Mark Meckler appears to be the mastermind behind this effort.

The danger of a guy like Chris McDaniel is that you would add to the growing number of anti-federal senators in Congress. McDaniel would most likely win the general election since Republicans vastly outnumber Democrats in the state, and whatever bad blood was spilt during the primaries would be forgiven before electing a Democrat to Washington, even if what few Democrats remain in Mississippi are pretty conservative themselves.

Thad understands the value of being a Senator when it comes to putting food on the plate, so to speak.  This is what drove Southern Congressmen for decades, as they were able to cut a pretty big slice out of the annual federal budget for their states.  Good Ole Boys like Cochran simply don't understand nor appreciate the dynamics of the New Republican Party driven by radicals like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who desperately want McDaneil to join their ranks in Washington.

Essentially, these Young Turks are attempting a hostile takeover of government and the first major casualty is Eric Cantor, who is being stripped of his title of House Majority Leader after his surprise primary defeat in Virginia, even though he doesn't formally leave office until December.  If more of these anti-federalists get into Congress, it will make it virtually impossible to govern as they will use every opportunity to shutdown government, as Ted Cruz has already intimated.  The GOP tried its best to subdue this unruly group in its party, but failed.

We haven't seen anything like this since before the Civil War when Southern legislators fought desperately to limit any discussion on abolition, even though slavery held back the industrial development of their region of the country. They seem to prefer to live in their perverted notion of an agrarian society, where so many rural Southerners live below the poverty line and have come to rely on federal welfare programs to make ends meet.  A vote for Chris McDaniel would be a return to Southern antebellum days.

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