If it were certain that Donald Trump is not going to win reelection, we’d be inclined to endorse the reelection of Cindy Hyde-Smith to the U.S. Senate.
If Joe Biden wins the presidency, it raises the specter of complete Democratic control in Washington, since the House is almost guaranteed to stay in Democratic hands, and the Senate could be flipped if just a couple of races go its way.
Whatever the party, it’s usually not good when one holds the majority in both houses of Congress as well as the White House. A party in full control usually overreaches, pushing through legislation that later the nation regrets.
Politics may be too divisive in its tenor, but there’s nothing wrong with divided government. It’s a check on the type of pride that makes one party think it can do anything it wants.
Since there’s no guarantee, however, that Biden is going to win, we have to weigh Hyde-Smith and her Democratic challenger Mike Espy on their own individual merits.
Hyde-Smith is not particularly inspiring, even for someone who became the first woman to represent this state in the U.S. Senate and, before that, the first woman to serve as state agriculture commissioner. But she’s competent, provides good constituent service and has been helpful in getting the federal government to reconsider flood-control decisions that have unfairly put the southern end of the Delta under water for nine of the last 10 years.
But in other areas, because of her blind loyalty to Trump, she has worked against Mississippi’s interests, supporting his attack on Obamacare and his trade wars against China. This state is the poorest and unhealthiest in the nation. It needs more health care, including an expansion of Medicaid, not less. Trade wars may be fine for U.S. textile firms and steel companies, but they’re terrible for farmers, who heavily depend on export markets. In order to soften the blow of the president’s trade policies, the Trump administration shoveled almost $30 billion in additional subsidies to U.S. farmers, adding to the nation’s debt in order to provide a fair return to farmers (and keep them from revolting) instead of letting an unfettered marketplace provide the income.
Espy understands all of this.
When elected to Congress from a mostly Delta district in the late 1980s, the attorney made it a priority to be schooled on farming and represent its interests. He did so well at it that Bill Clinton later chose him to be secretary of agriculture, the first Black to hold that position in the nation’s history. Espy tripped up by accepting freebies while a cabinet member, but he was found innocent of any criminal activity and his prosecution was later criticized as unjustified.
He also understands how financially foolish and hard-hearted it has been for Mississippi to reject the federal government’s offer — one of only a dozen states left doing so — to pay 90% of the cost of providing insurance to the working poor. Although Medicaid expansion is a state decision, not a federal one, Espy could use the clout and pulpit he would have as a U.S. senator to help persuade his home state to act.
Lastly, Mississippi needs some partisan balance in its politics. The GOP’s nearly total domination of state and federal offices — U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson is the lone exception — does not produce the healthy exchange of ideas that a true two-party system would bring.
We recommend voters pick Espy to help correct that imbalance.