BY: Ryan S. Walters | Mississippi Conservative Daily
Chris McDaniel, Melanie Sojourner, Michael Watson, and Perry Lee are the Profiles in Courage in the Mississippi Senate.
“The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people – faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but will also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment – faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.”
So said John F. Kennedy in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, where he profiled US Senators who showed tremendous courage during their tenures in office, including several who took such bold stands that it cost them their seats. Yet they stood courageously on principle. And courage was a virtue that Kennedy most admired, as should all of us.
In every legislative session, whether in Jackson or Washington, we see conservatives take audacious stands in support of unpopular causes. We all remember Ted Cruz standing alone on the floor of the US Senate passionately fighting against Obamacare and valiantly trying to persuade his fellow Republicans to join him in defunding it. Though he lost what he knew would be a rough fight, one for which he would face intense ridicule, he still took the principled stand.
There have been numerous examples in this year’s session of the Mississippi legislature. Conservative senators, including McDaniel, Watson, and Sojourner, took a very courageous and unpopular stand on a bill that would mandate that health insurance companies provide autism coverage. The easy road was to simply vote “yea” and move on, saving oneself from tough questions and political attacks.
But tough votes and courageous stands tell us who is really a conservative and who is just playing one on TV for the voters. Hard decisions and bold votes separate the conservative wheat from the political chaff.
In the latest example, timely news broke today that Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has won the endorsement of nearly every member of the Republican majority in the state senate. And, right on cue, the Republican Establishment jumped for joy at the announcement.
Alan Lange of Y’all Politics said that Reeves “played this like a fiddle,” outmaneuvering and outflanking the Conservative Coalition to win over seven of the eleven members of that McDaniel-founded group. But nothing could be further from the truth. This was simply an easy political decision made by politicians. These 28 Republican senators who chose to endorse the current leadership, even though many privately loathe Tate, did not make a courageous stand. They chose the easy path, which was to simply endorse Reeves and keep him off their back in an election year.
United Conservatives Fund spokesman Keith Plunkett had this to say about the endorsements: “It’s unfortunate that some politicians have a hard time fighting the temptation of self-interest and ambition, but thank goodness we have fighters like Chris McDaniel, Melanie Sojourner, Michael Watson, and Perry Lee, who put conservative principles first. We need more like them and that’s what we’re working for with the United Conservatives Fund.”
But let us not criticize those 28 senators who chose their own path. I would only remind them of words from our Lord: “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction.”
Instead of mud-slinging, our focus should be on the four members of the Mississippi senate who took a noble stand against the powers that be – Senator Chris McDaniel, Senator Melanie Sojourner, Senator Michael Watson, and Senator Perry Lee. True courage can be found in these brave senators who chose not to open the wide gate and take the broad path, but made a decision that will likely place a political bulls-eye on their back.
But as Thomas Jefferson once advised his young nephew, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
These four senators chose to stand like a rock and they deserve our praise, not ridicule. And that is precisely the kind of courage and leadership that the United Conservatives Fund is seeking around the state, for it is the only virtue that will put our state and our country back on the right track.