Satan wins. At least, that’s what we can draw from Tuesday’s defeat of the so-called “Personhood Amendment” if Governor-elect Phil Bryant is to be believed. On Monday, Bryant compared fertilized eggs to Jews “being marched into the oven” and said the battle over Initiative 26 was one between good and evil.
“The evil dark side that exists in this world is taking hold,” Bryant said. “And they’re saying what we want you to be able to do is continue to extinguish innocent life. You see, if we could do that, Satan wins.”
Well, apparently, some of Satan’s allies voted for Bryant, too; the same majority that elected him also voted against government intrusion into women’s health care.
That may confuse those who thought Republican voters would automatically vote for 26. I see it differently. Granting personhood status to a fertilized egg in order to trump up our pro-life credentials would have teetered on high hypocrisy. As much as I love Mississippi, I believe that we are the last state in the nation with standing to tout a dedication to the sanctity of life.
Children who enter the world in Mississippi have the worst prognoses in the country for a full life. In an article for The Washington Post last week, Frances Kissling pointed out several alarming statistics about our state: We have the lowest personal income rate in the nation. We are last in academic achievement. We have an extremely high infant morality rate. We are third in a list of the least insured states. We have the second highest imprisonment ratio.
Yet Mississippi has selected Phil Bryant, whose status quo policies promise nothing but more of the same. It is entirely consistent, therefore, that we did not vote to make sacrosanct the lives of zygotes when our current system doesn’t even treat the lives of those who are already here with such dignity.
That’s not entirely the fault of Mississippi voters.
The state GOP has done a wonderful job of convincing Mississippians, especially middle and lower class whites, to vote against their own best interests. How else can we explain the effectiveness of campaigns that rallied citizens of one of the least insured states around a promise to fight health care reform?
Meanwhile, the Mississippi Democratic party has done an abysmal job, often offering “conservative-lite” policies and candidates that leave progressive voters uninspired.
Even Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree was hesitant to fully embrace progressive policies. Despite that, DuPree represented our greatest hope for change.
“Mississippians are the greatest people in the nation,” DuPree said in his concession speech that I attended Tuesday night. “They deserve better than what they get.”