JACKSON — Mississippi’s local and state elections are done for another four years. The Republican Party stays in power.
Unlike many elections around the world, few people questioned the validity of our state’s election process. It is a great blessing to live in a state and country that has a legitimate and trusted democratic process.
George Washington in his farewell address warned the nation of the dangers of political parties, but the nation didn’t listen. Political parties are fundamental to our electoral process, even though they are private organizations with no constitutional basis.
The whole idea of a political party is kind of disturbing: “Let’s form our own private organization and take over the government.” The Constitution protects our freedom to form whatever private associations we want, and that includes private associations designed to influence elections.
Our two-party system has been a source of great national stability over the years. It takes 50 percent plus one vote to gain power, so both parties are hyperfocused on that equation. As a result, national elections have gone back-and-forth like a seesaw.
If one party gets too extreme, it loses power. Since the whole point of a political party is to take power, this becomes a self-correcting process. Parties, by their very nature, will run off fringe elements in order to win.
The nature of a two-party system creates strange bedfellows. Stitching together 50 percent of the electorate requires some creativity, especially in our nation of rambunctious, high-strung individuals. Americans won’t sit by idly if they are discontent with the status quo. That’s how we all got here.
Republicans, for instance, are supposed to be more anti-government, yet Republicans have embraced a variety of socially conservative laws that intrude on individual liberty.
Meanwhile, Democrats are generally pro-government and distrustful of the free market, yet the party is more socially liberal and wants the government out of our bedrooms and out of our recreational substance decisions.
According to the latest Gallup poll, 31 percent of Americans consider themselves Democrats, 29 percent consider themselves Republicans and 40 percent are independent.
I am one of the independents, although I typically vote Republican. I do find it disturbing when one party dominates. Like George Washington, I am distrustful of the concentration of power.
I believe strongly in the free market, which often aligns me with Republicans. But I also value individual liberties and freedoms, which often aligns me with Democrats.
Like a lot of Mississippians, I am virulently opposed to communism, socialism, collectivism and whatever else you want to call the ideology that killed a hundred million souls last century and has destroyed Venezuela this past decade.
The strength of that emotion probably helped keep the Republicans entrenched in Mississippi, especially with Trump’s visit. A lot of Mississippians see left-wing kookiness on the national scene and vow never to vote for a Democrat.
That’s a weird side effect of the national two-party system. It’s balanced nationally, but not so much in the individual states. California is a one-party Democratic state. Mississippi is a one-party Republican state. As someone who believes that just about everything good comes from competition, I find this lamentable.
Another problem with political parties in Mississippi is race. We have a white Republican Party and a black Democratic Party. That’s a shame. Racism is perhaps the most noxious social ailment pervading our society today. Judging a person by the pigment of their skin is absurd, un-Christian and demeaning.
It’s not all race. Madison County, which is 60 percent white, voted 50 percent for Jim Hood for governor. So there are some white Mississippians who voted Democratic.
In Leflore County, which is 72 percent black, 75 percent voted for Democrat Hood. Hardly any crossover there.
Alcorn County, which is 87 percent white, voted 75 percent for Republican Tate Reeves. A little bit of crossover there, but not much.
National surveys indicate 85 percent of blacks are Democrats. I would bet 85 percent of Mississippi whites are Republican. It will be a long time before this unique aspect of our state’s political process disappears.
An open primary would help foster more political competition. Louisiana has an open primary system in which all candidates from all parties run against each other in the primary. So do Washington and Arizona.
Of course, it would require the cooperation of the dominant political party to change to open primaries. And since the whole purpose of a political party is to take over the government, don’t expect that to happen without some type of public referendum.
Being a small state with a limited number of politically ambitious individuals, it’s so much easier for the political caste to all join one party and not have to compete against one another. Monopolies are much less work.
Even so, a party can’t stay in power if a majority of voters don’t agree. The good news is that a majority of Mississippians are happy with the state of the state.
Historically, the Mississippi Democrats grabbed every federal dollar they could get, even if this meant welfare. The Republicans are turning away federal welfare. As a result, lower-income citizens are leaving our state. It remains to be seen if this is a wise policy or not. It’s a big change.