Many Republicans seem to me to be confused about law and order. I am hearing decidedly mixed messages on public safety and public corruption both here in Mississippi and from Washington, DC. It’s hard to figure exactly where that party is coming from.
First, here in Jackson the Governor used his line item veto to take money away from the local planetarium because there is too much crime in Jackson. The connection between crime and star gazing is loose, unless you know that the Governor likes to criticize the City of Jackson where the planetarium is located.
To be clear, the Governor (and the Republican state legislature) have a pretty soft commitment to public safety outside of the planetarium threat. State policies around COVID contributed to among the highest death rates in the world here in Mississippi and the near collapse of the health care system, which is starved for resources in part because of opposition to Medicaid expansion. The legislature is slow to spend infrastructure funds which could help provide reliable and safe water service in Jackson, nor does it do much for the city except occupy it a few months a year when the legislature is in session.
I conclude that these Republicans care about public safety from some threats but not from others. They like beating up on the majority African American capital city but don’t do anything helpful about public safety unless it helps make their, shall we say, “anti-urban” argument.
Next, two of the three Republican members of Congress from Mississippi were forced into run-off elections for what appear to be opposite reasons. Representative Steven Palazzo has been the subject of multiple accusations that he struggles with both truth-telling and campaign finance law. His failure to win 50 percent was predicted, although he came in first. He faces a local Sheriff in the run-off.
Representative Michael Guest, on the other hand, in whose district I reside, was forced into a runoff by a newcomer to Mississippi, Michael Cassidy, who accuses Guest of being a RINO because he voted for a January 6th Commission. So Guest, a conservative former prosecutor is accused of failing to represent Mississippi by a guy from the DC area whose principal complaint was that the prosecutor wanted to investigate a crime. Whatever.
That brings me to the main event of the week, the January 6th Committee hearings. Dramatic. Fact-based. Headed by a Mississippian (a real one; not like me and Cassidy) who acknowledged in introducing himself that Mississippi’s history and his own had prepared him for the moment. The hearing also featured two very tough women: the extraordinarily clear-headed daughter of a Republican Vice President, and a law enforcement officer who had put her life on the line for her job and for her country. The Committee presented hard evidence of a carefully planned and executed coup against the United States government and its peaceful transfer of power.
The Republican leadership response? They would rather address inflation than sedition. That seems non-sensical. Like announcing they can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Or that Jackson’s crime rate means it can’t have a planetarium. High inflation does not make the attempted coup OK.
Representative Cheney’s statement that their dishonor will remain was the central quote of the night. And I really don’t know what the Republicans think they stand for. Its not public safety. I am clear on that. Chaos and violence? Greed and unchecked power? Or what I have euphemistically called here “anti-urbanism”? They really aren’t leaving themselves with much else.
At least most Republicans aren’t leaving themselves much else. I am sure I have many disagreements with Representative Cheney on matters of policy. But I admire her courage, toughness, clarity, and patriotism. I hope in the coming months to see that our country and my adopted state honor those qualities.