Hoodwinked: State voters put blind faith into status quo

By DAVID GUSTAFSON,

There is a widely-accepted notion that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

If that’s true, then the State of Mississippi has officially lost its collective mind.

After years of suffering declines in nearly every facet of living under years of Republican rule, the Magnolia State doubled down this week and elected Tate Reeves its governor.

Educated voters would have asked themselves not which one of these two is more likable (AG Jim Hood), or which one has President Trump’s endorsement (Reeves), but rather which one of the two candidates is right on the issues – especially those most important to this region of the state.

Had they been thinking about anything other than party loyalty,  it should have been Attorney General Jim Hood.

Hood, a moderate Democrat, understood that it is preposterous for Mississippi to continue to thumb its nose at $1 billion a year in federal money to expand Medicaid.

Rural hospitals continue to close. Services are being cut. People you know are losing their jobs.

Jim Hood knew that Mississippi has not done nearly enough — and never will under a Reeves “no new taxes” mantra — to shore up its deteriorating roads and bridges.

Hood recognized that in a poor state such as this, it is unfair to hand out hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to wealthy corporations while maintaining one of the highest taxes in the nation on groceries — a tax that hits hardest at those scraping to get by.

He realized that this state’s future heavily depends on what happens in public education.

Jim Hood wanted to expand pre-kindergarten programs so that every child in Mississippi has a better chance of not starting school behind.

He wanted to address the severe teacher shortage in part by significantly raising educators’ pay — a cause that Reeves embraced only after polls showed his victory in possible doubt.

But instead, a majority of voters chose Reeves, despite the fact the status quo that he the party establishment constantly defends is not working.

But you already know that.

In a recent report published by U.S. News and World Report, Mississippi is home to the absolute worst health care in the nation. It has the third-worst economy. Its schools are the fifth worst. When it comes to infrastructure, Mississippi is the sixth worst.

Literally, nothing is working and by electing Tate Reeves, Mississippi voters ensured that nothing will work any time soon.

Reeves would be wise to take notice that the average Republican margin of victory in all, but one of this week’s statewide races was 20 points.

He only won by five points.

The electorate is growing less and less patient with do-nothing politicians on both sides of the aisle and unless Reeves is careful, he may be looking at a single term in office.

Fortunately, we had some bright spots in an otherwise dreary election season:

n State Sen. Juan Barnett (D-Heidelberg) was overwhelmingly re-elected with 60 percent of the vote.

Barnett’s District 34  includes all of Jasper County and parts of Jones and Forrest counties.

Along with State Rep. Missy McGee (R-Hattiesburg), who was re-elected with a 28-point margin of victory, the pair have repeatedly fought for our region and deserve  the opportunity to continue to do so.

n Former Hattiesburg police chief Charlie Sims, a Republican, was elected Forrest County sheriff.

Sims will have his work cut out for him, but Forrest County will be well served by Sims and the men and women on his staff.

n Democrat Sharon Thompson became the first woman to ever be elected to the Forrest County Board of Supervisors.

Thompson defeated Republican challenger Allen Rainey and will join incumbent Supervisors Rod Woullard and Chris Bowen, both of whom were re-elected Tuesday, along with Board President David Hogan and Dist.  3 Supervisor Burkett Ross.

Thompson will provide a much-needed fresh perspective to the Board and Forrest County will be better off because of it.

David Gustafson is the not-so-mild-mannered editor/publisher of The Pine Belt News