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Party system, dirty ads only hurt our state

Over the last couple of weeks, normally mundane trips to the mailbox became something of a daily adventure.

Probably 95 percent or more of what arrives in the mail is quickly tossed in the trash or shredded.

Credit card applications, magazine subscription offers and loose sales circulars for discount furniture are the usual players in the daily mailbox match.

Within seconds of identifying the unwelcome invaders, most are soon discarded. Only the occasional bill or card is saved.

Lately, however, newcomers have made appearances in the pile of predictability and have garnered a little attention, though perhaps not the kind the senders hoped.

The newbies started out simply enough.

“Vote for me!” they cried.

In blazing color, they showed their political parents wearing their finest duds and spouting their best traits.

“I’ll work hard for you!”

“I’ll do things different than the other guy.”

With almost each passing day, the claims diminished and the attacks ramped up, the images more dark and smarmy.

With the first attack spotted — on incumbent Democrat state Sen. Bob M. Dearing — the words on the paper backfired. Rather than feeling anger, my brain almost immediately started picking apart the message.

Now don’t mistake that for blind following on my part.

Clearly, Dearing seems like a nice man. He’s managed to get elected over and over throughout the years.

But that doesn’t necessarily make me just follow him to the polls like the Pied Piper.

As a conservative, political common ground with the state’s Republican party has always seemed to be a natural. But the Mississippi Republican Party — the source of the Dearing character assassination — has embarrassed itself with its crass attacks.

Our dominant two-party system doesn’t work well for two reasons.

First, like most human beings, voters are inherently lazy, so rather than taking the time to learn about candidates, it’s much easier just to classify them all by party — red or blue. And we’re susceptible to being swayed by misleading attack ads.

Second, so-called third party candidates — ones who might like to think independently and may not feel like associating with the political crypts and bloods — find it really tough to get elected.

We’ve all heard of battleground states in presidential politics. Apparently, based on the massive “war” costs, Southwest Mississippi’s state senate district 37 is political high ground.

In the latest comical mail out, the party attempts to tie together Attorney General Jim Hood — who has certainly been no friend of our area — former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, President Obama and Dearing.

An obviously faked image shows all four men playing poker together. The image looks like something a fifth-grader did as a joke — cutting heads off images and pasting them on the body of another.

In some ways, it’s laughable.

But that’s where we are with two-party politics. We constantly draw lines of division rather than talking about issues.

Clearly the hit pieces on Dearing are costly — extremely costly, even at non-profit postal rates — which means the GOP expects to gain something significant from a victory.

Hopefully, voters will vote for the candidates they feel will work best for the people of Southwest Mississippi.

The answer is much more complicated that just reading a postcard covered with silly images and allegations.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.