After all of the campaigning, all of the political posturing, all of the polling and remarkably reality-defying punditry, all of the… noise, the election finally happened. In its wake, we saw the worst of people on social media. I counted a few particularly rogue Facebook statuses that had been deleted by Wednesday. A handful of dumb students reflected poorly on the University of Mississippi.
The whole thing makes us crazy. But credit Governor Romney and President Obama, because perhaps the greatest moments of a multi-year campaign came at its end.
This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation […] Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work, and we citizens also have to rise to occasion […] [W]e look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics. – Mitt Romney, Concession
I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.
And together with your help and God’s grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth. – Barack Obama, Acceptance
How gracious in defeat was the governor? How re-energized and inspiring was the president? With the burden of the campaign finally removed from each man’s shoulders, we saw what we had been looking for the entire time. In the fog of war, divide and conquer was the master plan, when we the people were looking for sense and civility all along.
Calls for unity. Calls for effort from citizen and servant alike. Calls for prayer. The invocation of God, for one night, not a political province of the right but a hope for one nation.
Maybe it won’t last. Probably it won’t last. But on the night when so many Democrats were gloating and so many Republicans were forecasting the fall of Rome, Mitt Romney’s campaign website was streaming Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in a simple gesture of solidarity. And so, on Election Night, this disaffected voter watched two men emerge from battle, wondering where philosophies like these were one week earlier, and what will have happened to them one week later.
Mississippi rarely receives much attention from candidates in presidential elections. After all, there’s usually little doubt as to the inclinations of the most conservative state in the union. Furthermore, with its primary scheduled after Super Tuesday, party nominees usually have been all but officially accepted by the time the Magnolia State rolls around.
2012 is different. While Mitt Romney is a clear frontrunner in the Republican primary, he still faces three opponents, one of whom needs Mississippi (and Alabama) to clearly delineate himself from his rivals, and one of whom needs Mississippi (and Alabama) to preserve any credibility as to why he is still in the race. That’s why Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich all visited Mississippi the week prior to the primary.
All three men made stops in Jackson. I managed to see two of them in person – Santorum and Romney – while collecting a handful of reliable reports on the Gingrich events. As polls show a tight race going into the primary, each candidate used a different strategy to court voters.
Never in my lifetime can I recall so many campaign buses rolling into Jackson, Miss. Not just for those $2,000 plate lunches, either – for honest-to-goodness, down home, public rallies.
Naturally, I’m game.
The blog already attended Rick Santorum’s rally at the Ag Museum Wednesday night. Tomorrow, Newt Gingrich will be making the rounds, while the frontrunner, Mitt Romney, makes his appearance on Friday. Sadly, no word of a visit from the Ron Paul team.
Keep an eye on the Twitter page (@voiceofD) for live updates as I try to catch as many of these events as I can. A full blog post recapping the candidates’ strategies, the public’s reactions, and an attempt to project the Mississippi primary will come over the weekend.
Magnolia State politicos, enjoy the moment. We don’t get many.
An outgoing politician has the unique opportunity to use his final days and months in office to accomplish good for his constituents without fear or worry of upsetting the political establishment. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour elected to use that opportunity to free murderers and rapists, releasing a wave of criminals back into the communities he led to recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In the last acts of an eight-year governorship considered by most to be a success, largely because of his Katrina response, Barbour issued full and unconditional pardons to 193 convicted criminals. Still more received some other form of clemency, such as an early release from prison. Add the full and unconditional pardons from earlier in his term and Barbour is responsible for 226 criminals being released, many having their record wiped clean of any wrongdoing.
Among those 226 names are 45 people who were convicted of killing a man, woman, or child (21 were convicted murderers, 24 were found guilty of lesser offenses, like manslaughter). Eight of these worked at the Governor’s Mansion while incarcerated. One of them, David Gatlin, was serving a life sentence after he shot and killed his estranged wife as she held their two-month old child. He shot another man in the head during the same incident.
Gatlin left the baby lying on top of his mother’s body.
David Gatlin is now free, and there is no trace of the murder on his record, thanks to Gov. Barbour.
The public debate over Mississippi Ballot Initiative 26 – the so-called “Personhood Amendment” – was spirited and plentiful in the weeks leading up to Tuesday night’s vote.
The entire event has inflamed my researcher’s itch. Until the prescription cream arrives, I would appreciate you taking a moment to complete a questionnaire as part of a pilot study in political communication. You do not have to be a Mississippi voter to participate, though it will probably help… a lot.
Your responses will be secure and anonymous. Find out more on the first page of the questionnaire, located here:
Feel free to share the link with your contacts. And check back here in the coming weeks and months for results.