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Thad Cochran, the GOP Establishment, and Racial Politics

Posted by Walter Myers III on June 29, 2014

CochranIf you weren’t sure who the “establishment” was in the GOP, then if you were following the US Senate primary run-off in Mississippi between incumbent Thad Cochran and Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, you found out to stunning effect. Sensing his political future was in serious trouble, Cochran, who was supported by the likes of Arizona Senator John McCain, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, waged a campaign that stooped to the lowest level of tactics rivaling those of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Cochran, who has been in Washington, D.C. since 1978 (that’s 36 years), did not run as a conservative, but as a big government, pork-barrel senator who brought home the bacon for Mississippi. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part was that he reached out to Democrats, particularly liberal black Democrats, because without them he would have most likely lost. His message was that if the Tea Party candidate won, blacks would lose their welfare benefits and the Tea Party would continue their “disrespectful treatment of the first African-American president.” With friends like Cochran in the GOP, who needs enemies in the Democratic Party?

Ostensibly, the establishment backers felt Cochran had a better chance against the Democrat in November, but was it worth it to violate core principles of conservatism and to even further falsely sully the reputation of the Tea Party caucus, who they might have forgotten are Republicans too? The charges of racism are going to stick to the larger party as well, so Cochran may have done himself a favor but he has done no favors for the party. Perhaps some will view his “outreach” to blacks as a good thing for the GOP, but this wasn’t outreach. It was a bribe. In effect, Cochran told black people that he was going to keep bringing big government benefits to them in Mississippi. He owes them now and they will be looking to cash in. So there are no pretenses now that the supposedly Republican senator will fight for smaller government, against Obama’s socialist agenda, and greater opportunity for blacks. His job is to “bring home the bacon” and support Obama from the attacks of racist Tea Party conservatives. Who would have ever expected the Republican Party would devolve to such a shameful state. But then again, this is politics and politics is all too often about personal survival at the expense of the country and our Constitution. And even more tragic is to see blacks across this country place so much faith in government only to be used as a voting block and forgotten when no longer needed (who are notably much worse off under Obama than Bush). The much needed economic opportunity and chance for upward mobility never seem to arrive, and it will be status quo with Republican Cochran.

Thad Cochran and his ilk, in my view, are fundamentally no different from Democrats. This is precisely why the Tea Party came about, which was to revitalize a once-proud grassroots party that has sadly lost its way. The milquetoast, go along to get along politicians such as Cochran simply don’t share the same core values as the conservative base of the Republican Party. To use blacks in such a manner that he has previously paid no attention to in order to keep what he arguably believes is “his” seat, and to spread falsehoods about his opponent as well as the Tea Party sets a new low for Republican politics. And we didn’t hear any protest from McCain, McConnell, Barbour, or political pundit Karl Rove when this man used racial politics as a tool to win. So you know where their loyalties are in what they obviously see as nothing more than a game of hustle. This just shows you where the party is going and what its leadership is truly like. The Republican leadership doesn’t want to turn this country around from its headlong run into a socialist welfare state. They just want to convince us that they will run the socialist welfare state better than Democrats. So much for bold colors or a vision of a city on the hill. This is the wrong prescription for America, and it is why the Tea Party cannot give up but must continue to fight. What I do hope the Tea Party learns from this is that it needs to actively reach out to minority communities with a message of hope, optimism, and economic opportunity. Minority communities cannot be ignored any longer, and what we have learned from this race is that establishment Republicans will pander to minority communities when it serves their purposes. The Tea Party should be on notice.

7 Responses to “Thad Cochran, the GOP Establishment, and Racial Politics”

  1. Craig P. Alexander said

    Well done Walter – great post. This shameful incident is also an strong advertisement for a closed party based primary. This was supposed to be a vote for the Republican nomination to face the other party’s candidate in the fall. Not for a “pre-general election” general election where people who are not Republicans help pick the Republican nominee. We lost that here in California partly due to “establishment” Republicans and now we have the “jungle” primary that has been nothing but a loser for the Party and I believe the voters of this state. But what just happened in Mississippi is an even greater and more obvious bad result for the Republican Party than what we have seen here in California so far. More importantly, the Mississippi Republican “establishment” has just shot itself in the foot and maybe the head too. They just told rank in file Republicans that they (the establishment) will go to any lengths to keep power including diluting their votes in a primary. Don’t look to those rank in file party members to “close ranks” around the nominee in November. Thad Cochran may still win in November but it will be at a great cost to the Republican party in Mississippi going forward.

  2. KenCoop said

    I look at the open primary as a “free market” equivalent of the political system. Why shouldn’t I be able to vote for whomever I want? If a particular candidate appeals to me I should be able to vote for that person at any stage of the electoral process. I believe open primaries should be established everywhere for every office. Why should a few party bosses control who gets on the ballot? The people should decide. Not just a select few that show up to Central Committee meetings.

    Cochran won. African American voters realize that a Dem won’t ever win that seat and probably realized they’d rather have Cochran than the Tea Party candidate. If Cochran was able to play on their beliefs of how the Tea Party has treated the first African American president it is only because there are plenty of examples for him to cite.

    Obama hasn’t done or proposed anything that hasn’t been done or proposed by a conservative or GOP president in the last 30 years. Yet for some reason those individuals were never labeled as IslamoMuslimFacistCommieKenyan usurpers like Obama.

    • Walter Myers III said

      Ken,

      The reason for a closed primary is obvious, and this is not a “free market” equivalent in any shape or form. You can vote for whomever you want in the general election, but if you are a Democrat you don’t have any right to vote which Republican should run against the Democrat that you vote for in November. I don’t think you would like the situation if it were in reverse, but then again I don’t expect liberals to apply the same rule to a Democrat that they apply to a Republican because we all know liberals have one rule for themselves and another rule for conservatives. Each party has every right to determine who it wants to send into the general election. Open primaries destroy that right and can prevent the party from sending the candidate that it prefers with no interference from the opposite party.

      As to examples of how the Tea Party treated the first African-American president (who happens to be just as much a Caucasian president as an “African-American” president) disrespectfully, I don’t see how he has been treated any more disrespectfully than George Bush was treated. And how do you know the motivations of people in the Tea Party? Have you polled them? You can’t cite any examples of Tea Party people being disrespectful towards the president because of his race (which again, is NOT African-American, while actress Charlize Theron and golfer Ernie Els actually are), and I challenge you right here on the page to demonstrate your case, which I know you can’t.

      I’m not even going to respond to your last paragraph. I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

      • Greg Woodard said

        Walter,

        I will respond to the last paragraph as it is a typical liberal straw man. Ken ignores the point of your article, because he cannot rebut it and appears to actually support the deceptive tactics, so he sets up some nonsensical argument with no facts or support.

        I concur with Craig, excellent article and I hope every true conservative is outraged and disgusted by the lengths Cochran and his hack allies will go to to protect their power over whatever principles, if any, they have left.

  3. KenCoop said

    I am not African American. But I understand their skepticism towards the Tea Party. I don’t believe that all members of the Tea Party are racist but I believe that racism exists amongst its members simply based on its inception. From my memory it only became very vocal after Obama took office. The Tea Party claims to focus on limited government and reduced spending. Did they not notice the excessive spending and government expansion during the Bush years? Yet anytime someone points out those facts they are shouted down with claims of “Bush isn’t president! Don’t dwell in the past!! Time to look forward!!” Even though many conservatives had no problem blaming policy issues on Clinton till almost the day Bush left office. I do know that in talking to African Americans they are skeptical of Tea Party motives for the simple fact of the amount of silence towards Bush’s fiscal policy versus now. They need to answer this question: Where were they during the Bush years?

    Another reason why liberals like myself are skeptical of the Tea Party motives is the double standard that has been applied to Obama versus other conservatives. Obama hasn’t done or proposed anything that hasn’t been done or proposed by a conservative president in the last 30 years. Yet none of those indivdiuals were or are being called commies, facists, tyrants, muslim sympathizers, or usurpers. If you can find an example of where either Bush or Reagan were given any of those terms by conservatives when they expanded government or spent excessively (which all of them did) I’d like to see it. The angst towards healthcare reform would be palpable were it not sad. The whole idea promoted by Obama was gleaned from a policy paper written by the Heritage Foundation in the late 80’s (http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/assuring-affordable-health-care-for-all-americans). No one accused them of being socialist or worse, communists. Then the GOP presidential nominee in 2012 enacted a similar form of healthcare reform while he was governor. It’s a SMH moment for those of us who actually bother to look beyond the rhetoric and 30 second soundbites.

    As far as elections. You state it isn’t an open process. Why not? The parties get to decide who they are going to support. Why not open all elections to all voters all the time? If a candidate’s issues are good they will get the support they need from all of the electorate. I see no reason why this shouldn’t be the law of the land in every locale in every state. The only ones who would oppose it are those who would benefit from the power they might have after the candidate is elected. Primary elections didn’t exist until the late 1800’s or early 1900’s depending on who you ask. No reason why we can’t return to that aspect of elections as it was envisioned by our nation’s founders.

    • Walter Myers III said

      Ken, I am of African descent. And I am NOT an African-American because I was born and raised in America. It is offensive to me to be referred to as an African-American as if I came here from another country when I was born here. Charlize Theron is an African-American. I am not.

      Now with respect to the Tea Party, the problem with Obama is that he has always been known as a far-left liberal who believed in government redistribution of wealth. He had been making these statements long before he became President, and his voting record in both the US Senate as well as in the role of state Senator of Illinois showed where his sympathies lay. The man killed a state bill that simply required that a fetus who survived an abortion be provided with medical help since it is now outside the womb. The same bill passed in the US Senate shortly thereafter and is now the law of the land. He had ties to a known terrorist, and it was well known that he had picked up Marxist philosophies as far back as when he was in school in Los Angeles at Occidental. We have never had a President who had so little respect for our system of government and our capitalist system. So PLEASE stop with this racism stuff. Racists are spread across the board across Republicans and Democrats, and if you ask me, the most racist are white liberals who are always posing that they want to help black people and in the past 50 years there has been no decrease in poverty in the black community. In fact, white liberals have presided over the destruction of the black family since all they have brought are government handouts instead of economic opportunity that would lift those people out of poverty. I lived it and saw it in my community and thankfully I had great parents that encouraged me to work hard and not look to the government for anything. Unfortunately, far too many blacks as a percentage are beholden to government.

      Now as to people complaining about Obama as opposed to Bush, ALL of my conservative friends admit freely that Obama is simply George Bush on steroids. So please do not try that one on me. I personally opposed the Iraq war, Medicare Part D, and the fact that he never vetoed any spending bills. George Bush was a big spender and ran up $5 trillion more debt, doubling the debt. And Obama is going to do the same thing during his administration. That’s a fact. It doesn’t matter what color Obama. Bush was bad and he is worse.

      Finally, the parties don’t decide. The voters decide who they will vote for, but it depends on THEM being informed. Most are unfortunately not, just like most people in America. And in my view, the fact that Obama got in just shows me how little Americans think and just how uninformed they are. They’re more concerned about the Kardashians than a government that is taking over more and more of their lives to the point where there will be very little freedom left. They didn’t think it could happen in Argentina. They didn’t think it could happen in Venezuela. Well it did, and the same thing will happen here if the Democrats are successful in their aims.

  4. KenCoop said

    Walter wrote: “Ken, I am of African descent. And I am NOT an African-American because I was born and raised in America. It is offensive to me to be referred to as an African-American as if I came here from another country when I was born here. Charlize Theron is an African-American. I am not.”

    It may be offensive to you but that does not apply to all who claim the title. I will use the term “Black.” I hope that is also not offensive. If it is I offer my apologies.

    Walter wrote: “Now with respect to the Tea Party, the problem with Obama is that he has always been known as a far-left liberal who believed in government redistribution of wealth. He had been making these statements long before he became President, and his voting record in both the US Senate as well as in the role of state Senator of Illinois showed where his sympathies lay. The man killed a state bill that simply required that a fetus who survived an abortion be provided with medical help since it is now outside the womb. The same bill passed in the US Senate shortly thereafter and is now the law of the land.”

    Your point? Do you believe redistribution of wealth isn’t occurring now with the policies supported by conservatives? What policies has he enacted or proposed that weren’t enacted or proposed by conservatives in the last 30+ years? Heck, Eisenhower (that bastion of liberalism) tried to get healthcare reform passed. He also managed to push through the largest public works project in US history up to that time! Aka, the Interstate Highway System.

    Walter wrote: He had ties to a known terrorist, and it was well known that he had picked up Marxist philosophies as far back as when he was in school in Los Angeles at Occidental. We have never had a President who had so little respect for our system of government and our capitalist system.

    Can you show where that individual has had any direct influence on policy. Did Obama appoint him to his cabinet? Does Obama call him when he needs advice? Bush had several people he called when he wanted policy advice. Several of them ended up being convicted of federal crimes. Did that association make Bush a criminal as well? Or does that standard only apply to Obama. Your claim of him having the least respect of our system of government. You must be very young or forgetful. Again what has Obama done that hasn’t been done by any other president? Executive Orders? He has fewer than Bush. A little more than half as many as Reagan. What specifically are you referencing in that statement? You claim he has no respect for our capitalist system. Based on what? The massive bailout known as TARP was enacted during the last days of Bush (who admitted it violated his principles but he needed to sign it to save America’s financial system). Rewarding the poor business decisions of private companies is by far the most disrespect I’ve seen towards any capitalist belief.

    Walter wrote: “So PLEASE stop with this racism stuff. Racists are spread across the board across Republicans and Democrats, and if you ask me, the most racist are white liberals who are always posing that they want to help black people and in the past 50 years there has been no decrease in poverty in the black community. In fact, white liberals have presided over the destruction of the black family since all they have brought are government handouts instead of economic opportunity that would lift those people out of poverty. I lived it and saw it in my community and thankfully I had great parents that encouraged me to work hard and not look to the government for anything. Unfortunately, far too many blacks as a percentage are beholden to government.”

    I’m not the one claiming racism. I’m only citing why I believe Black Americans would be skeptical given the different reactions towards a white president versus a black president. Do you believe those perceptions are invalid? I’m sure you have seen the infamous picture of Gov. Jan Brewer on the tarmac pointing her finger at the president. How do you believe conservatives would have reacted if Rep. Maxine Waters had done the same thing to President Bush? No difference? I know you are not that naive.

    Walter wrote: “Now as to people complaining about Obama as opposed to Bush, ALL of my conservative friends admit freely that Obama is simply George Bush on steroids. So please do not try that one on me. I personally opposed the Iraq war, Medicare Part D, and the fact that he never vetoed any spending bills. George Bush was a big spender and ran up $5 trillion more debt, doubling the debt. And Obama is going to do the same thing during his administration. That’s a fact. It doesn’t matter what color Obama. Bush was bad and he is worse.”

    Great. Why weren’t they complaining when Bush was president? That is the point I was making earlier. Conservatives only now admit Bush was bad after he left office. That is the what is seen by those skeptical of the current president’s critics.

    Walter wrote: “Finally, the parties don’t decide. The voters decide who they will vote for, but it depends on THEM being informed. Most are unfortunately not, just like most people in America. And in my view, the fact that Obama got in just shows me how little Americans think and just how uninformed they are.

    Very elitist Walter. If you believe the voters decide then why the opposition to open primaries? Given the topic is the recent election in MS. Maybe the Black American voters in that state realize a Dem will never win and voted for the person they believed would be best for them. I don’t know since I don’t live there. I do believe they should be allowed to exercise that choice at any stage of the electoral process.

    Walter wrote: “They’re more concerned about the Kardashians than a government that is taking over more and more of their lives to the point where there will be very little freedom left. They didn’t think it could happen in Argentina. They didn’t think it could happen in Venezuela. Well it did, and the same thing will happen here if the Democrats are successful in their aims.”

    I have more faith in the electorate. I hear those arguments from both sides. I’ve been hearing them for over six decades. I dismissed all of them then and I dismiss all of them now. I do remember when President Obama was sworn into office in Jan. 2009 how wackos were claiming that Obama was coming to get your guns (he hasn’t) and that FEMA was preparing camps for his opponents. That is tin foil stuff and barely warrants a snicker on the laugh-o-meter.

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