If you’ve lived in Mississippi or anywhere in the south for that matter, you’ve probably heard the term “good ol’ boy”. The term can have several different meanings, some negative and some positive depending on who’s using it and how. But for general reference, the term “good ol’ boy” is used for well socialized white men who live in rural and generally Southern areas. It is commonly applied to men with a family of generational wealth or prestige.
“Good ol’ boys” in Mississippi are like clubs. They are wealthy, which means they have a lot of power and they usually hold positions of power in their area. They are the police chiefs, mayors, big business owners and of course the lawmakers. After a nasty race for GOP senate seat, Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel, two of Mississippi’s elite good ol’ boys, went head to head but only one came out flexing their muscles.
“Cue The Rant!”
I’ll say one thing, this election made for excellent political theater. We are still talking about it today and it’s just as interesting. This story is still relevant because Chris McDaniel is still crying foul on the election results. He and his campaign contend that there are thousands of examples of voter fraud and it’s enough to force a special election (basically a re-vote). After spending weeks examining ballots (during which they claimed the Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman and county circuit clerks around the state were intentionally hindering and withholding info) they still weren’t able to produce any evidence as of yet. They had a whole press conference planned that happened this Wednesday in which they announced they still were gathering evidence. Chris McDaniel didn’t even attend it.
During this whole fiasco Thad Cochran and his camp have been asking the same question, “where’s the evidence?” They have also claimed that the McDaniel camp knows the election is over and is just putting on this whole show to rile their base to raise more campaign funds to pay off their debt incurred during the election.
Meanwhile progressive liberals like myself have been loving every minute of this. Watching this seismic split within the Republican party has been nothing short of remarkable. And watching how it has interacted with our local politics here is crazy. The “good ol’ boy” system showed you how strong it is here. McDaniel had millions of tea party dollars floating in here to try to get him elected. But it didn’t work against Thad and his campaign because this is his state. The money he has and most importantly his connections is where his power lies. When a McDaniel supporter got caught taking pictures of Thad Cochran’s bed-ridden wife the punishment was swift and severe. He and everyone that had a connection to the supporter went to jail for ridiculously high, 250,000 to million dollar bonds. How did they get reprimanded so harshly? Because Thad knows all the judges in the state. They are all “good ol’ boys”.
And look what happened to one of the supporters connected to the scandal Mark Mayfield. He was a lawyer who deeply supported McDaniel. After getting caught in the scandal and arrested, all his major clients had all but cut him off. His name was tarnished and his lively hood was suffering. And then on the morning of June 27, three days after the runoff that left Mr. Cochran the victor, Mr. Mayfield killed himself.
That pressure and power that Thad Cochran exhibited was powerful and apparently too much for Mr. Mayfield to handle. And notice that I said was.
Things are changing in Mississippi and around the country. For the first time since reconstruction, African Americans will make up the majority of the citizens in the state. And around the country minorities are rapidly turning into the majority. Black people actually have the power to affect the election this fall. We are poised to make historic things happen in the state and on the national level. And the “good ol’ boy” system is in real jeopardy. As the years go by and as more black people vote, more democrats will be elected. So if the GOP in the state and around the country don’t at least start taking into consideration the needs and interests of minorities soon, they will lose their power. Don’t believe me? Just ask Chris McDaniel what happens when you ignore an entire constituency of your state’s citizens.
That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to cue the Sir Charles.