Courting Dixiecrat Votes | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Courting Dixiecrat Votes

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Laurie Bertram Roberts

My grandmother had the best shocked face. Her eyes crinkled at the edges, and her lips tensed. It was a bit of a scowl mixed with a disapproving over-the-eyeglasses look. It always made me chuckle.

"Barbie, 321 Contact?" she had asked.

"Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and 321 Contact please!" I quickly replied.

I was 8 and loved following politics and current events. The personal was political to me even at a young age. I listened closely and could see quite clearly the impact lawmakers had on my life.

This election season has been exceedingly disappointing to me as a liberal. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see a Democratic candidate sign a pledge from a xenophobic hate group to attract votes from the right.

Yet, here it is 2014, and that's exactly what Travis Childers did when he signed FAIR's anti-immigration pledge.

To be clear, as a progressive, I don't expect candidates I vote for to pass an ideological purity test. I do expect them to be a progressive or liberal at heart. I do think they should align with the party they affiliate with if they expect the party faithful to support them.

At no time do I expect to see them throw my Hispanic brothers and sisters under the bus in the hope of gaining votes of bigots. I don't expect to see Democrats promoting fear of immigration by implying undocumented people are welfare queens who also steal jobs. I am disappointed to see state Democrats hoping black voters fear Hispanic immigration and will vote for candidates pushing that fear. Some are even promoting the idea that blacks have the most to lose due to immigration. It is classism and race-baiting worthy of Dixiecrats and Lee Atwater, not 2014 Democrats.

It's hard enough to get excited about a state party that has been running from being progressive. It's impossible for me, as a black woman, to trust a candidate who is willing to stigmatize one racial or ethnic group to gain the votes of another. It makes me believe that the next dog whistle can easily be blown in my direction. The party that I've felt drawn to since I was a child is leaving me.

Where are the liberals? What I see around me are a lot of "liberal" lawmakers trying to get by being "safe" by shutting their mouths and playing conservative. It's a game I have no desire to take part in. If winning means turning away from basic principles of progressives and liberals, that's not winning. If Democrats want to be the party of Mississippi and not represent ghosts of our state, they need to rethink their strategy and do it quickly.

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