About two weeks ago, I outlined here why I can't be a member of the Libertarian Party any more. Today, I'm going to talk about how I'm going to advance libertarian ideas another way.
Mississippi has historically been a one-party state. Post-Reconstruction, the Democrats dominated state politics, and even the “Southern Strategy” of Richard Nixon produced relatively little movement to the Republican Party. At the state level, the Democratic Party dominates most offices. If there has been a realignment in the South, it skipped Mississippi's state offices completely, or at the very least has been delayed by over 30 years.
Part of the Republicans' problem in Mississippi politics is that most Republicans offer little that is different than the Democrats. Both parties are socially conservative, by and large. About the only meaningful difference that can be discerned, other than the fact the Democrats are far more inclusive of Mississippi's blacks than the Republicans are, is that Republicans want a somewhat smaller state government. The conservative coalition agenda is hardly earth-shattering in its scope, discussing a rather bland array of issues. This is hardly surprising, since most of the states' Republicans are just Democrats who have figured out which way the wind was blowing.
Yet Mississippi does face serious problems. Legislators are spending 2003 playing games with the budget so they can put off a tax increase into 2004. They have passed a massive increase in education spending, with nothing to increase accountability — no vouchers, no school district consolidation. They have failed to provide meaningful oversight of spending from Mississippi's anti-tobacco lawsuit proceeds.
We need to stop the budget games. Mississippi is a relatively poor state, and we can't afford more taxes to pay for an uneeded Labor Department, or to throw more taxpayers' money at higher education that could, instead, come from higher tuition. We need a more accountable, smaller state government.
So, rather than simply complain about these things in my blog, I'm going to do something. On Monday, I sent my $15 qualifying fee to the Mississippi Republican Party to be a candidate for the 10th House District in the 2003 statewide election. The 10th District has a population of nearly 23,000, representing parts of Lafayette, south and eastern Panola and northern Tallahatchie counties in northern Mississippi, including parts of Abbeville, Batesville, Courtland, and some of the suburbs surrounding Oxford. The district is about 75.4% white, 23.4% black, and 1.2% persons of other races, and is currently represented by Warner F. McBride, a three-term Democrat from Eureka Springs in Panola County (Mississippi legislators serve four-year terms).
I'll set up a campaign web page in the next few days, with a proper announcement and issue statement (a preview: you'll see the phrase “Taxpayers' Bill of Rights”); it will be linked from the LordSutch.com web page. I'll write some about my experiences on the campaign trail here, but there probably won't be a substantial shift in the general melange of topics that come up.
Thanks to Bill Hobbs for some extra publicity with a link from his blog. I'm hoping to have everything ready to roll (the website, platform/position statement, and bank account) in the next couple of weeks. However, up front: I will be endorsing a TABOR Amendment like Colorado's to the state constitution, as well as continuing the direct election of our supreme court (my opponent has proposed legislation that would change to Tennessee-style elections where public input would be greatly reduced). I think this is a winnable district — it went heavily for Bush/Cheney in 2000, even though Batesville's own Ronnie Musgrove will be at the top of the ballot in November.