Clinton’s Choices for Congress/by Stone Clanton

The City of Clinton is located in Mississippi’s Second Congressional District, and its representative is up for reelection this year. 

Born in Bolton in 1948, Bennie Gordon Thompson began his activism through the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while at Tougaloo College, organizing voter registration drives for Blacks throughout the Mississippi Delta before becoming a schoolteacher. From 1969 to 1972, he served as an alderman in Bolton, then as mayor from 1973 to 1980. Thompson was then elected to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors, where he served from 1980 to 1993. Following Mike Espy’s appointment by then-President Bill Clinton as the Secretary of Agriculture, Thompson ran in a crowded special election held in April of 1993. He won the seat again in 1994 and has been reelected twelve times.

Earlier this year, Representative Thompson faced Sonia Rathburn in the Democratic Primary for the Second District, and defeated her very easily. Now, on Nov. 3, he faces the Republican nominee for the seat, Brian Flowers. Flowers, a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, describes himself as a “fiscal and social conservative.” Flowers is running on supporting U.S. veterans, putting a stop to illegal immigration, bettering the educational system, upgrading infrastructure, voting “pro-life,” and defending the Second Amendment.

Flowers has virtually no chance at unseating Thompson. There are only a couple of occasions where an incumbent is easy to beat: the term right after their first, or when the incumbent has done something the voters see as concerning (i.e., a scandal, the health of the office-holder). As for the voters of Mississippi’s Second Congressional District, according to the polls of the last 12 years, I don’t believe they feel that way.He has served in D.C. for more than 27 years (the longest-serving Black congressman from the State), and at 72, I don’t see him stopping anytime soon. 

I only raise one question: “Should a person spend this long of a time in Congress?” By no means is Thompson the only person to use public office as a career pathway, but you must think about this when heading to the polls. I’m not questioning any of his actions or votes, and I’m not endorsing his rival party’s candidate, by any means, but I am simply raising awareness that the American voter has a history of reelecting incumbents they don’t actually like that much. For example, 2012 voters reelected 91% of Congress, yet a Gallup poll showed the same Congress only had a 10% approval rate. That should throw up some red flags. I mean, with a 90-some-odd percent disapproval rating, you would imagine that 90-some-odd percent of the politicians would lose their jobs. Again, I’m not advocating for Thompson to be voted out or kept in, I’m just using this election to make a point.

I’d like to explain how we can fix this problem with a few simple steps. One, we should reintroduce civics and other practical subjects like resource management back into our classrooms. We need to educate our future on the civic process, because they (we) are the people that will be leading this country soon. Second, we need to take personal responsibility and actually research candidates. When an individual analyzes issues of this importance on only the surface level, they have no business voting. Take responsibility and actually research a candidate (and other things pertaining to politics) before you head to the polls – you aren’t the only person your vote is affecting. Third, we can push for term limits on Congress to hold our representatives accountable to their words and goals.

Election Day 2020 will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Stay informed. Study America’s history. Research the candidates. Make a difference.

Published by

The Collegian

The Collegian is the official student newspaper of Mississippi College. Run by students for students, The Collegian strives to bring quality journalism and storytelling to its readers while also providing an outlet for students to express themselves. We hope our readers leave with a better sense of their community and the people in it.

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