Tuesday’s election is like saying ‘I do’

Published 12:09 am Sunday, November 4, 2018

For most of us, even in the wildest of our younger days, we would never think of getting hitched without at least a little due diligence.

Dates, discussions of future goals and ambitions, meeting friends and family members are minimums before such a commitment.

For many pre-marital counseling with a minister or other professional is a prerequisite as well.

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Marriage is a lifetime commitment — or at least it’s supposed to be, though a high number of American marriages end in divorce.

Mississippians on Tuesday are poised to say, “I do,” to two people with whom they’ll be married for the next six years (in one case, less in another) as the state aims to fill its two U.S. Senate seats simultaneously.

The rare double-senate race was caused by the retirement of longtime U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, earlier this year.

The two races are set up differently, too, since one race is considered a special election to fill the remainder of Cochran’s unexpired term.

In the traditional senate race, incumbent senator Republican Roger Wicker faces Democrat challenger David Baria, a state representative from the Gulf Coast. Also on that ballot are Libertarian Danny Bedwell and perennial Reform Party candidate Shawn O’Hara.

In the special election, no party primaries were held, so pits two Democrats against two Republicans.

Republicans Chris McDaniel and Cindy Hyde-Smith will vie for the most votes against Democrats Tobey Bartee and Mike Espy.

Most voters simply vote for their preferred party’s candidate, regardless of the person’s character or track records.

It’s a bit like saying, “Will you marry me?” to someone you’ve never met, but with whom you think his or her Zodiac sign is compatible with your own.

My late grandfather voted this way. He worked as a plumber and voted Democratic in every election because he felt Democrats were “union friendly” and that Republican Herbert Hoover was the sole cause of the Great Depression that has marked my grandfather’s childhood.

Ballots were simple for him. Just look for the Ds.

Others do just the opposite and look for Rs, while others simply vote against all incumbents, trying to enforce their own flavor of term limits.

All of that seems like some kind of third-world, tribal marital practice.

On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of Mississippians will get “hitched” to political candidates without much thought, let alone a deep dive in to their character. They will simply vote based on a letter.

What’s worse, even more people will not even show up on Election Day, instead letting others choose their political fate.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who oversees all elections in the state, estimated last week that approximately 800,000 voters might cast ballots in Tuesday’s election. That estimate is based on the number of absentee ballots already picked up and cast. That’s 800,000 out of more than 2 million registered to vote.

As poor as the expected turnout may seem, election officials suggest it should be better than historically votes in midterms.

The voter apathy and the blind allegiance to party is baffling. Our country might be better off if we simply could eliminate the labels of political parties and could somehow force people to become informed as they vote.

Senate “marriages” are important and so is the right to vote.

Please take some time to read up on candidates — consider it meeting their parents — before Tuesday’s election and then remember to vote. Tuesday is the single-most important way we have to influence our government.

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