Steve Patterson: “Who’d a thunk it?”

New Albany MS Political candidates lack substance
Steve Patterson, veteran of many political campaigns, laments the lack of candidates of substance on the political scene these days.
August 2nd, 2019     Guest Authors


“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics will not take an interest in you.” –Pericles


Back in the day, when someone stated the obvious, a frequent response was “who’d a thought it” or, even more likely, “Who’d a thunk it?” That old phrase has been running through my head an awfully lot lately.


Well, perhaps because it’s election year in Mississippi. Normally this is a season that gets my passions flowing and excites my heart. So far, this year’s elections have been about as exciting as an Olympic curling match. The candidates have left me bored, uninspired and disgustingly apathetic, and I loathe apathy in all its nuanced forms!

Steve Patterson, Summer 2012, MS delta near Como.

Be honest now: do any of the candidates really inspire and excite you??

The more I see of this year’s candidates, the more I admire and respect my ole blue tick coon dog!

I have watched with great interest the few debates that have been held. I heard a lot about what we CANNOT do in Mississippi and very little about what we CAN do. I have read the policy positions of each candidate for statewide office. This exercise did not consume much time because there are scant few of them. And I have watched the endless stream of special interest funded television ads seeking our votes. No inspiration there! The whole campaign, from top to bottom, seems void of substance and reminds me of the proverb: “An empty stable stays clean, but there is no profit in an empty stable.”

Three and only three themes have emerged from this year’s campaigns: (1) I’m a Conservative. (2) I’m a bigger and more loyal supporter of President Trump than my opponents. And (3) I go to church on Sundays!

My disgust has found safe harbor in each of these obviously well researched and polled themes.

What does it mean when candidates proclaim “I’m a conservative??” What exactly do they want to “conserve?” Surely they do not wish to “conserve“ Mississippi’s last place standing on virtually every statistical survey that ranks the states on critical issues like education , income , healthcare , infant mortality and the environment? Let’s face the facts: we are first on the list of things that are bad and last on the list of the things that are good! Those things should not be “conserved” but should be boldly attacked with well-reasoned, affordable, new, achievable policy proposals. This year’s candidates should be spitting out innovative proposals with the urgency that is demanded. That’s why we hold elections! However, that demand can only come from the voters, and a large swath of the electorate sadly seems content with the status quo. Who’d a thunk it ?

Or, do this year’s crop of candidates, as I suspect, use the word “conservative” as a code word for sticking it to those in the rest of the nation who have a less than complimentary view of our state. Are they really trying to protect our maligned image in the rest of the world? Are they really saying, “We’re Mississippi and under my leadership we will not change?” Sadly, that is a message that has resonance, and I guess still gets votes here at home. We Mississippians are a notoriously defiant bunch. “Tell that bunch of pointy headed Yankee intellectuals we ain’t a changing” is still a winning message? By gosh we’re last and proud of it! Who’d a thunk it?

The “I love President Trump” theme is more easily understood, even if it requires Twilight Zone reasoning. I’ve taken to labeling President Trump “the alliteration President: “Rapist, rogue, racist, and rascal, rude, reckless, and reprobate.” I once had hoped that President Trump would rise to the occasion and prove to be an inspiring, unifying leader. Three years of evidence has quashed all those hopes. Nonetheless his poll numbers are good in Mississippi, and I have no doubt, baring some outrageous unhinged action on his part, which he is most capable of, he will win our state next year. We don’t really believe what President Trump says, but by golly we sure do love to hear him say it. Who’d a thunk it?

As for the “I go to church” theme, I’m thrilled that we have people of faith seeking elective office. Faith in God and obedience to his inerrant word is the critical foundation to being an effective public servant. I’m sure all these candidates are good folks and I applaud each of them for boldly embracing their faith, and I guess it’s acceptable to advertise their church attendance. However, I can’t help but wonder how their faith informs their policy positions given the other two themes of this year’s campaigns. What are the policy initiatives to lift up the “least of these?” I have heard NO specific initiatives to address poverty, education, health care, illiteracy or child care! These are things church going folks are supposed to believe in. Only imagined nonexistent attacks on our Christian culture seem to get a rise in the candidates’ voices! “Look out y’all; they are coming for our guns and next thing you know they are liable to take our Bibles!”
“Who’d a thunk it?”

We must demand much more of candidates for public office. State governments have often been called “laboratories of democracy.” It is state government that can and should innovate. Our state has plenty of problems. They are obvious to everyone. I want to hear more specific proposals to address these problems that have gone largely unaddressed for generations and every other voter should too. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. It’s insane for us not to demand new innovative approaches to age old problems. Until we wake up and demand thoughtful, fresh solutions to our problems we will continue to be fed a steady diet of pablum that closely resembles horse dung!

Perhaps, that great political philosopher “Pogo” of comic strip fame said it best: “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

Who’d a thunk it?

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From the Community

“Grump “ nix says:

Patterson poured the syrup on the biscuits real smooth ,this time . “ the alliteration President “ line is destined for stardom ! I 100% agree with this article.

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