Voters, Choose Wisely | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Voters, Choose Wisely

Politicians are good at distracting voters. They seem to be getting better at it all the time. With the majority of them lawyers, it may just be a matter of their training: shift the attention of a jury (or a voter) to where you want them to look, not at what really needs to be looked at.

It is an unfortunate state of American politics that politicians will—in finest bluster and grandstand modes—take on wedge issues that have no hope of getting passed so they can later say: "Well, I voted for it. My opponent didn't."

The Jackson City Council passed an ordinance last week that mandates convenience-store owners must hire security guards if their stores are open after midnight and until 5 a.m. The ordinance came on the heels of a robber killing a clerk.

The tragedy of Dilip Patel's death notwithstanding, storeowners are sure to challenge the ordinance by saying the city can't tell them whom to hire. And the ordinance is a toothless gesture. It carries no penalties for non-compliance, making it a picture-postcard example of political showboating. "At least I tried" will undoubtedly be the response when the ordinance dies a quiet death.

The other incident seems to have every Mississippi Facebook user and blogger seeing blood. Regardless of which side you find yourself on the "Personhood" ballot initiative, it's hard not to have a strong opinion. Not surprising in conservative Mississippi, Democratic politicians including Attorney General Jim Hood jumped on that emotional bandwagon (although he removed a Facebook post, his stance remains on his campaign website), as did the Democratic candidate for governor, Johnny DuPree.

Voters, and perhaps politicians, have lost sight that this amendment represents a wedge issue. They're called that because they drive a wedge between otherwise rational people, taking the electorate's attention away from the issues that will make a fundamental difference in our day-to-day lives and onto emotional issues that raise our blood pressure and lead us to vote against our interests.

That is not to say that abortion and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade is not important or that you should not have a strong opinion. But let's not take our attention from issues such as education, jobs, health care and the things that make life worth living: healthy children; good, healthy food; the ability to enjoy our lives and work.

Let's not let the critical issues that affect our lives go without the energy they require of us to reach resolution. Resist the urge to focus only on wedge issues and try not to be distracted by politicians who would rather we didn't turn a critical eye on their sound bites.

Choose wisely, Mississippi. Our state and country needs cool, reasoning heads, not overheated rhetoric.

Previous Comments


I was the only Statewide candidate to oppose the "Personhood" amendment - and they tossed me off the ballot and reduced the Governor's Race to just the two major parties. Dupree is the best choice of no substantial difference. I will say that Initiative 26, if passed, would have dramatic and very negative effect on our every day lives. More women prosecuted for miscarriages ( because its already happened here in Mississippi, a 15 year old girl at that! ). Birth Control pills would be outlawed - don't let them tell you they won't be. Government would be poking around in your bedrooms, your OBGYN offices, your Mothers and your Daughters. I've covered a lot more info and provide links to other research, articles, videos and blogs at : and I will agree with you that Quality of Life needs to be greatly improved before anyone considers forcing women to increase Quantity of Life. When every child is loved, when no child goes hungry, when every child has a good home, when no child is abused, when every child feels wanted, when every child has access to a good education, when no child struggles with poverty... I will still oppose government intrusion into our bedrooms and doctor's offices. Vote No on 26.


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