It has been a long election season, but Tuesday, voters cast their ballots in the General Election for state and county elections.
This year, we have seen long-term incumbents defeated, new faces elected to positions vacated by retirement, and even a special-called election commissioner race. We’ve heard the promises, we’ve had our hands shaken, and attended the rallies and meet and greets. We can identify candidates by the colors on their signs, have seen the advertisements, and have heard the endorsements.
The voters had the final say on the campaign trail Tuesday.
I can’t remember how many elections I have covered as a newspaper reporter. I remember my first one, the DeSoto County election in 1999. Not much has changed over those more than 20 years.
Candidates still have to get their messages out, meet the voters, and give stump speeches at the rallies. And in my years of election experience as a journalist, there is always a surprise of some sort on Election Day – an underdog wins overwhelmingly, a particularly close vote count, a 20-year incumbent is ousted. No one ever knows what the voters are going to do at the polls, and that proves to be the most exciting thing about politics.
There is one things that is different in politics these days – social media. And I honestly believe social media is the primary reason the political climate in this country is so toxic.
Twenty years ago, politicians or their supporters slinging dirt relied on the community grapevine to spread rumors, falsehoods, and ugliness without getting their hands dirty. These days, people have no problem spewing vitriol under their own name and profile picture on social media. It is as if our entire society has turned ugly, and society is perfectly okay with that.
Now, I’ve seen these types of Facebook and Twitter posts more on statewide campaigns that our local races in Carroll and Montgomery counties, but there have been some.
As an implant to the Crossroads, I learned a long time ago that in this community, everyone is related in some form or fashion, so be very careful to whom you vent your frustrations. You could easily be offending someone’s first cousin or in-law or Sunday school teacher. Dirty politics in a small community like ours is never a good idea.
Tuesday morning, my sister innocently posted a message on Facebook about her preference in the Mississippi Governor’s race. Obviously, her opinion -- an informed opinion I might add whether anyone agrees or not -- was not received well by many of her “friends.” Those folks went nuts, slinging foul language, calling people idiots and worse, and telling her they would be “done with her” if she didn’t vote the way they wanted.
It was one of the most hateful, un-American threads I have ever seen. If someone wanted to write their dog’s name in for the Mississippi House of Representatives, at least they would have cast a ballot. One report I saw today said 70 percent of Mississippians didn’t vote Tuesday.
With the presidential primary coming up in March and the General Election next November, I expect this kind of mean-spirited dialog will continue throughout 2020. Lord help us.
There is one thing I would like to say to those people who are exceedingly brave behind a keyboard. Being ugly and demanding and questioning peoples’ intelligence because they do not agree with you is not the way you persuade someone to change their mind about whom they plan to support in the election. It will, however, make them think differently about you personally.
There are people I just adored until their true colors were broadcast on social media, and when someone shows me their true colors I do not try to repaint them.
Social media has become kind of a bully-pulpit for the everyday Joe, especially in relation to politics. People want to see cute pictures of your children or grandchildren, hear about your new job or home, and see pictures from your recent vacation. Your political views, unless you are considered an expert in the political arena, is the last thing most people want to see on their newsfeed.