In Mississippi, the tea party-driven Republican civil war has direct ties to the real Civil War in the primary contest for the seat of six-term Sen. Thad Cochran. His challenger is a neo-Confederate.
Thirty-five years ago, after three terms in Congress, Cochran became the first Republican U.S. senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction had been crushed and Southern Democrats had begun nearly a century of hegemony in the Old Confederacy. Cochran himself had been a Democrat until he switched parties in time to head up Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign in Mississippi.
By Southern standards, Cochran has been a moderate in the Senate, racking up a life-time rating of only 73 percent from the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and 79 percent from the American Conservative Union. And that "moderate" stance, which most recently included his vote to end the partial government shutdown and avoid default, is what has stirred hard-right opposition to challenge him. The 75-year-old Cochran himself has yet to declare whether he'll seek re-election.
If he does declare, his foe in the primary will be Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel, chairman of the Mississippi State Senate's Conservative Coalition, a tea partier and former host of the syndicated Right Side Radio Show. The Club for Growth, the Jim DeMint-founded Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project immediately endorsed McDaniel when he announced his candidacy a week ago. He plans to make Cochran's vote on debt default a centerpiece of his campaign.
On his Facebook page, McDaniel describes his views as "a fusion of Judeo-Christian principles, free enterprise, limited government, fiscal responsibility, free market policies, reduced tax rates, morality in government, strong national defense, federalism and Constitutional checks and balances."
He also quotes William Faulkner there: "To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi." He might just as well have added another Faulker quotation: “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” For as Tim Murphy at Mother Jones points out, that past seems to figure high in McDaniel's worldview:
Two months ago, the tea party-backed Mississippi Senate candidate addressed a neo-Confederate conference and costume ball hosted by a group that promotes the work of present-day secessionists and contends the wrong side won the "war of southern independence." Other speakers at the event included a historian who believes Lincoln was a Marxist and Ryan Walters, a PhD candidate who worked on McDaniel's first political campaign and wrote recently that the "controversy" over President Barack Obama's birth certificate "hasn't really been solved." [...]
With their endorsements of McDaniel, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth have shown just how far they are willing to go in terms of embracing the far right to prosecute their war for the soul of the party. In August, McDaniel addressed a neo-Confederate conference in Laurel, Miss., near his hometown of Ellisville. A local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the Jones County Rosin Heels, hosted the two-day event, which the group described in invitations as a "Southern Heritage Conference" for "politically incorrect folks." [...]
The Rosin Heels does more than regret the outcome of the Civil War. Its monthly newsletter routinely features articles and essays advocating for present-day secession. Its August newsletter highlighted the seven-year-old "Burlington Declaration" from the First North American Secession Convention, which stated that the right of secession was a "[truth] of natural law and the human experience."
One would hope that on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War ... er ... pardon me, the War for Southern Independence, someone with McDaniel's lost-cause affinities would at best be given a smirk. But in Mississippi, a 2011 survey
by Public Policy Polling found only 34 percent of respondents in a state that is 37 percent African American agreeing that it was a good thing the North won the war. Only 21 percent of Republicans said they felt that way. If McDaniel beats Cochran, expect to see some gray uniforms at the celebration party.
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poopdogcomedy has a discussion on McDaniel here.