OXFORD — Of the six senators voting to overturn the presidential election results in Arizona last week, half of them were from Mississippi and the two adjacent states of Alabama and Louisiana.
My guess is, if you asked them, Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and John Kennedy of Louisiana would all say they are for states’ rights.
And I’m sure they are states’ righters as long as it involves the federal government or some branch thereof messing with the tradition or laws in their own states.
But their fidelity to President Trump and his base of supporters apparently supersedes the right of each state to certify its own elections.
One thing you can say about the two senators whose names are most familiar in Mississippi, Hyde-Smith and Tuberville: They’re loyal — to Donald Trump.
That’s understandable if you count loyalty to a president who incited an insurrection worth more than abiding by the Constitution, which says it is the duty of Congress to count the electoral votes, not to “certify” how the election was conducted in a certain state.
Tuberville, the former Ole Miss football coach who lied that he was staying in Oxford a few days before becoming the Auburn coach in 1998, does owe his election to Trump, more so in my opinion than does Hyde-Smith.
The Mississippi senator was appointed to the post by former Gov. Phil Bryant after Thad Cochran retired. She subsequently was elected in a special election and then again in last year’s regular election.
Trump campaigned for her, but she had no significant Republican opposition, and was probably going to win any way, running against a Black Democrat.
But Tuberville’s main path to victory, aside from his name identification as a football coach, was Trump’s backing.
The president campaigned for Tuberville and against former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who served as the president’s first attorney general until Sessions fell out of favor for failing to do Trump’s bidding in the investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
Being well-versed in civics and history didn’t get Tuberville to the Senate. In interviews, he has mistakenly identified the three branches of government as the House, the Senate and the executive and said World War II was fought to free Europe of socialism. He may turn out to be a good senator, but at this point it appears his calling was football coaching and not statesmanship.
Hyde-Smith, in a statement from her office explaining her vote, said she had heard from many of her constituents alarmed about the election process. “I promised to represent the people of Mississippi and the certification process gives me an opportunity to use my vote to voice their concerns,” the statement said in part.
Although the Constitution says it is the duty of Congress to count the electoral votes, not to “certify” them, Hyde-Smith was joined in contesting the electoral votes in two states by all three Republican House members from Mississippi: Michael Guest, Trent Kelly and Steven Palazzo. Guest and Kelly are lawyers and should know better.
But they, like Hyde-Smith, probably were considering how the majority of their base of support felt on the issue.
Mississippi’s senior U.S. senator, Roger Wicker, also a Republican, had it right, though.
Wicker, over the past four years, has been supportive of Trump. But when it came to his constitutional responsibility, he showed courage. He said that although he is disappointed in the results of the presidential election, it is not the place of Congress to decide the results of certified elections, rather only to count the certified votes by states.
“The President’s own attorney general, his head of election security, and a number of Trump-appointed, conservative federal judges all have found that, despite widespread allegations of fraud, there simply was not enough evidence to change the outcome of the election in any state,” Wicker said.
“I know many of my fellow Mississippians will disagree with my decision, and I share their commitment to making sure our elections are fair,” Wicker said. “But I must vote according to my conscience, my oath of office, and my understanding of the rule of law. I hope that with the start of a new Congress, we can take steps to restore faith in America’s electoral system.”
Good for Sen. Wicker.
• Charles M. Dunagin is the retired editor and publisher of the Enterprise-Journal in McComb. He lives in Oxford.