STATE FARM'S HEAD ON A PLATTER
What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Rapids of Justice Build Slowly in Mississippi

by Ana Maria

With a heavy heart and incredible sadness, I read that Mike “Mini Me” Chaney had become Mississippi’s next George Dale-type of Insurance Commissioner. You know, the kind that is in the pocket of Big Insurance doing its bidding while doling out words that pretend to be for the average American Joe or Jane. I’m stunned.

Having grown up here, perhaps I shouldn’t be so stunned. It’s been a two decades since I left Mississippi to live, work, and being very politically active in Tennessee, California, and the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland area. I’ve seen how many, many others live, work, play, and vote.

Since mid-2000, I’ve lived primarily in Northern California in the heart, the capitol of Silicon Valley—San Jose, the 10th largest city in the nation. The diverse population had no single dominant ethnicity or race. A third were Caucasian, a third were Latino, and a third were Asian. Women and men of all ancestries ran for and were elected to office. The diversity of the cultural backgrounds made for a rich tapestry of perspectives and solutions to problems every municipality faces.

Here in the Southern part of the U.S. diversity in racial or cultural make up usually means African American and Caucasian. And here in the state of Mississippi, I just have to wonder the extent to which Chaney’s victory was because of his skin color. Goodness knows that it certainly couldn’t because the man had better ideas or experience or vision or passion than my friend Gary Anderson. Though he was part of the Governor’s coat tails which were long and strong.

On election day, I saw for the umteenth time John Grisham’s The Chamber. The movie and book were set at a time when the Klan and racial stratification reigned supreme. The movie—like the book—is set in Mississippi and surrounded the issue of the death penalty for a man found guilty of bombing a law office killing two children whose dad worked on behalf of civil rights. The lawyer was Jewish.

The movie got me to thinking, particularly about this campaign.

On Tuesday, I learned of reports that in Jeff Davis County eight state patrol cars were patrolling the county. Usually, the county has one patrol car—as I understand it. At one point in the day, I received the Anderson Campaign email alert that voter turnout was low. Extra patrol cars, low voter turnout, easy walk for the white guy running against an articulate, polished, educated, experienced, and visionary candidate.

While the superb team and candidate we had in Gary Anderson did not emerge completely victorious this election season, the mere fact that his candidacy was extremely viable is a major testament to how far things have finally come. Not that long ago, the thought of a viable statewide campaign for public office being aggressively and successfully pursued by an African American man here in Mississippi would have been sheer fantasy. Gary Anderson has successfully broken down that barrier, and he did so with enthusiasm, passion, class, and a campaign worthy of our respect for all that it had to overcome to achieve all that is has achieved.

How often each day do we pass through doors that men and women of all backgrounds, religions, economic, religious, and racial backgrounds have broken down so that others of us can benefit from the blood, sweat, and tears we invested. Too often, those of us who break down those doors are not the ones who benefit directly from our efforts. Nevertheless, an eternal debt of gratitude we owe for those who have helped to make the quality of our lives that which it is at present.

So, here, I thank Mr. Gary Anderson for the fortitude, commitment, vision and passion he and his campaign always exhibited throughout the campaign. Gary did this with class, and I am proud to have supported his candidacy, to have become a big fan, and to remain supportive throughout the future.

On an upside electoral note, our fantastic Attorney General Jim Hood strolled back into office, and that is an important victory. With Hood, we have a strong state leader who has proven many times that he is more than up to the task to stand up to Big Insurance. Plus, he has many a powerful legal levers at his disposal. Just as the Anderson campaign gives me hope about the future of Mississippi, having Hood in as the State Attorney General gives me hope that our future may see some interesting legal maneuvering to hold the insurance companies accountable for how they have seem to have deliberately hamstrung us economically.

The debilitating impact on us financially as well as emotionally and economically has been discussed in many articles as of late, a number of which have been copied and posted here on A.M. in the Morning!

While all the traditional issues concerning governance are also of tremendous interest to me, the insanity of the insurance crisis continues to plague us here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and throughout the Katrina-ravaged region from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Bayou Lebatre, Alabama. The insurance crisis has caused an economic redevelopment crisis. That crisis has made housing of any sort scarce as well as all the usual things we expect to find in cities and towns across the nation: grocery stores, movie theaters, bakeries—do you see a pattern? Yes, I’m food-centric, though you may not know it by looking at me. ;)

The lack of businesses being able to rebuild means that men and women have no jobs, which turns into a severe cash flow crunch. These stressors turn dovetail into mental health problems. And, of course, we have a severe shortage of mental health professionals because their homes and places of businesses were also destroyed and unable to be rebuilt because of the insurance crisis. Hospitals, schools, infrastructure, and law and order kinds of issues are so overwhelming throughout the region to be rather commonplace. I hear elderly people saying that none of this will be returned to normal in their lifetime—and they may have another 5-10-15 years. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the priorities of the greatest, most powerful nation on the planet.

Throughout this week as various candidates, their campaigns, and their supporters are licking their wounds that the stinging electoral defeat may have caused. Let us remember that there is always another election around the corner. And we have to contend with the results in the meantime. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but how?

The basics are always the place to start be it with the football team, the marching band, or those of us who are even remotely interested in being more successful within the political arena. This includes voters, campaign staff, candidates, and political parties and organizations.

If we were unimpressed with the results then we have the liberty, the responsibility, the authority to lay down now a stronger foundation for the next election. Even in defeat, we can look at the glass as half full and figure out how to begin this minute to improve our own political skills, our verbal jui-jitsu skills to become more politically savvy in the electoral arena, AND the legislative arena.

While having Gary Anderson as our Insurance Commissioner would have clearly been my preference, the real insurance battle, however, must continue to be pushed at the federal level, which is what Congressman Gene Taylor and the U.S. House of Representatives have been doing with passage of the multiple peril legislation this past September—legislation that we can help pass in the Senate. Putting insurance reform on the national radar is what Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have done with their co-sponsorship of the bill to strip the insurance industry of its exemption from the nation’s anti-trust laws. Lott and Landrieu know that the insurance industry should be subjected to the same laws of our nation to which the rest of the financial services industry is subjected.

As far as the implication of the resounding electoral defeat of a perfect candidate for statewide office in the state of Mississippi, a candidate who is African American and who many of us had hoped would be the first African American to be elected to statewide office since Reconstruction? We can choose to look at the glass as half full, that 43% of the voters cast their ballot for this history breaking opportunity. We know that the barriers of race, gender, class are mighty—mightier still here in Mississippi. Not many decades ago, running a viable, statewide campaign as an African American man would have not even have been a thought in most people’s minds.

Though we may be impatient, our energies may seem as a wasted investment or the opportunity may seem forever lost in the final tallying of Tuesday’s vote, we also know that every jagged rock over which mighty rapids flow will eventually wear down into a smooth edge. The rapids of justice build far too slowly for many of us, particularly here in Mississippi. Whether inside and outside of Mississippi, each of us can choose whether we will be a drop of water like a teardrop of sadness.

Or we can choose to jump into the river, joining with other drops of water that over time will smooth out the rough edges of the obstacles before us. These are the drops of water which comprise the mighty rapids of the justice we seek.

© 2007 Ana Maria Rosato. All rights reserved.
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9 comments:

KingMaker said...

I figured that you would try the race card and low and behold. Anna sweety, Gary Anderson didn't lose because he's black. He lost because he was a poor campaigner and because like you, he's a liberal out of touch with the majority of Mississippi. Anderson had a well funded campaign (thanks to Dickie Scruggs.), but he never really conveyed a message on how he would manage the insurance industry in the state. And, management doesn't mean standing on the steps of the Hancock County Court house ranting about making "THEM PAY".

He managed a handful over 43% of the vote which was the third highest among Democrats. So, he garnered more support than Junior's Eaves and Franks. Granted he had a weaker opponent than either but he started with a base of 39% (which is the bare min you get in MS just by having a D beside your name). He managed to add four percentage points to that.

Just because your fiend, and I think you are sincere calling him a friend lost, that doesn't mean that it's because he's a minority. It would make more sense to say that he lost because he's a Democratic in a heavily Republican state.

I am sure Gary Anderson is a nice man, and I would probably like to go fishing with him, but he was simply not the man for the job.

Ana Maria said...

Thank you for your Kool-aid laced comments. When you educate yourself and become functionally literate, then you will better able to express yourself coherently (i.e. grammatically error-free).

Please don't respond to this because you'll be wasting your time and expending your energy with your standard knee-jerk Republican talking points as the basis for your comments. The fact of the matter is that I am a bit of an academic, intellectual snob just like your talking points state as one of your possible retorts. I was born and raised right here. I attended Our Lady of the Gulf Elementary School and Our Lady's Academy in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Then off I went to the University of Southern Mississippi where I received my bachelor's and master's degrees in political science. So there you have it. The basis of my snobbishness. I am a very Southerner, educated in South Mississippi, literally.

KingMaker said...

When you resort to editing grammar and spelling it's an admission that you don't have the capacity to debate the issue. Sorry, but I am not impressed with your educational back ground. It's not really much different than mine other that the fact that my undergrad from Southern Miss is in finance and my graduate degree is an MBA.

And none of it chances the fact that Anderson is a poor campaigner.

Ana Maria said...

Yeah, as I suspected, your talking points are so predictable. When I attended Southern, I wasn't that impressed with its business department.

OK, your play time is up.

KingMaker said...

Yeah, but that was probably about 30 years ago.

Ana Maria said...

First of all, young one, I think you need to change your diaper. We are all smelling something foul coming from your direction. So, take care of your business.

Secondly, wow, you figured out that a well-funded Republican Party of White men in Mississippi can defeat a totally underfunded African-American candidate statewide. Wow. You are truly an intellectual giant. I see in your future a lucrative 6-figure political consulting contract with the Mississippi Republican Party. You are sooooo impressive. YAWN!

Good night now. It's way past your bedtime. Nitey, nite.

KingMaker said...

In every state wide race this year the better candidate won. Continuing to play the race card just makes you look sad and petty.

goldeneagle said...

GARY ANDERSON'S ENTIRE PLATFORM:

You can't protect the back pockets of Mississippi families if you are in the back pocket of big insurance.

THE PROBLEM THAT EVERYONE EXCEPT STRAIGHT TICKET LIBERAL IDEALOGUES REALIZED:

You also can't protect the back pocket of Mississippi families if you are in the back pocket of Trial Lawyers.

Attacking your opponent's campaign contributions is (1) Not going to beat anybody but George Dale and (2) Ridiculous coming from a man who nobody would have even heard of if not for a few Trial Lawyers giving him upwards of 600K.

Gary Anderson lost because he had no idea what he was talking about unless he was reciting campaign talking points. He ran a smear campaign that had no real substance and everybody saw it for what is was.

Some people didn't vote for Gary Anderson because he was an African American and past that they didn't care what he had to say, some people did vote for him because he was an African American and past that didn't care what else he had to say. Both cases are uninformed and quite racist.

Anonymous said...

Well said, goldeneagle.