THERE’S REALLY NO other way to put it: African American voters in Mississippi were duped into voting for Sen. Thad Cochran in his tight race for re-election. Without their vote, Cochran would have lost to his Tea Party opponent, Chris McDaniel. Enough African Americans and other Democrats voted in the runoff election Tuesday to give the election to the longtime senator.
What will they get in return?
Probably nothing, if history is any indication. And by history, I mean Cochran’s voting record. Aside from having voted for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2002 (not exactly an act of courage: 98 of his colleagues voted ‘yes’), Cochran has voted on the wrong side of most issues.
Cochran has voted against jobs and against the extension of unemployment benefits. He voted against most important Obama nominees to the courts (including Sotomayor and Kagen) and other high offices. He voted against extending voting rights to the residents of the District of Columbia and against the Libby Ledbetter fair pay legislation. He voted against equal-pay measures and against gay rights legislation. He has been anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-gay, anti-labor, anti-consumer and anti-poor people.
In short, Cochran has been a willing member of the obstructionist Republican minority in the Senate that would rather see the country fail and its citizens suffer than allow President Obama any claim to a legislative victory. Somebody please explain to me how McDaniel would have been any worse for Mississippi or the nation.
But maybe there’s hope for Cochran. Maybe he will prove me wrong.
Maybe now that he will be serving his last six years in the Senate (surely he will not run again!), he will develop a conscience, get a spine implant and begin, at last, to stand up to Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and other bullies, bigots and obstructionists in his party and start casting some correct votes for the good of the country and not just his party.
What has he got to lose? And really, to whom is he indebted now? The majority of the whites in his party have already told him they don’t like him and would prefer somebody else.
I’m not suggesting that he suddenly become an Obama lapdog. But he could seek out the more conservative Democratic senators and try to work with them to promote a middle-of-the road path to solving the country’s many problems. He could be a refreshing and much-needed voice of moderation in his party.
Cochran has not shown much courage in his lengthy career in the Senate, but it’s never too late. I would love to be proven wrong by this guy.