With the upcoming 2020 election, Republicans and Democrats are feuding over their party's primary candidates and are constantly trying to tear down their opponent in attempts to promote their candidate. Though our presidential debate is crucial to this country, I want to bring light back to Mississippi as we also vote for Mississippi's U.S. senator. We are faced again with Mike Espy versus Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi's current senator who won in 2018 with 53% of the votes over Espy's groundbreaking 46%. After considering both candidate's policies, their public responses, their comments and the work they have already done for Mississippi, I argue Mike Espy is what Mississippi needs, not because of my political affiliations but instead for the change, advancement and progression which Mississippi is in desperate need of and which Espy prepares to provide.
Considering their policies and views, Mike Espy's certainly seems to cater to the well-being of the majority of Mississippians. From education and healthcare to employment and wages, Mississippi has some of the lowest rankings in the country.
According to Matthew Lynch at The Edvocate, Mississippi scored an "'F' grade for academic achievement, and a 'D' for the chance of success for students." In addition, Mississippi is short on education funding by $1.5 billion.
On his campaign website and in his public statements, Mike Espy has been very critical of how our lawmakers are mishandling and underfunding our public education system, especially now during this COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Mike Espy's campaign website, he plans to demand and advocate for support and funding to be put back into our public education system by fighting for increased wages and loan forgiveness among educators. In doing this, Espy aims to increase employment. Espy also intends to question and fight against policies and legislators within the Department of Education which are hindering our education system's improvement. Additionally, Espy wants to ensure the decision-making process within our education system is done by those most equipped and qualified to do so, such as the school administrators and educators on the ground here in Mississippi.
On the opposing side, Cindy Hyde-Smith claims she is busy in Washington, D.C. with the pandemic and supporting President Donald Trump; thus, she has been very vague and elusive when it comes to campaigning and her plans to improve Mississippi. She even refused to participate in a debate with Mike Espy which would have been a great opportunity to provide her followers and Mississippians with real, specific answers on these important issues.
Even her campaign website is short and lacks details on several issues. When discussing education specifically, she offers very little information on how she plans to improve our education system. The only thing one can gather is she does not believe the federal government should dictate how we handle education, and "Mississippi does not need Washington telling it how to raise and educate its children."
Also, when considering Mississippi has ranked the lowest in healthcare for decades, Cindy Hyde-Smith is even worse when it comes to addressing this issue due to how she openly and constantly criticizes the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. When asked specifically what her plans are to replace the Affordable Care Act, she only repeats, "We obviously want to come up with a good health care plan," according to Luke Ramseth at the Clarion Ledger.
Mike Espy, however, has been very adamant about his plans to improve healthcare in Mississippi. Such plans include expanding the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid to lower healthcare costs, increasing healthcare access in rural counties, increasing the quality of and access to mental healthcare along with long-term healthcare for senior citizens and dismantling the health disparities among people of color within our state, just as his heroic grandfather did during Mississippi's Jim Crow era.
Education and health care are only two of the many policies Mike Espy has proved to be very passionate about, and his political history, willingness to learn, compassion for Mississippians and unwavering faith in Mississippi has made him a far superior candidate who is actually for the people.
Similar to her evasive comments, Cindy Hyde-Smith also has not done much for Mississippi with her current position, and she certainly has not adequately represented us nor moved us forward with the publicly inappropriate and Jim-Crow-era-type comment she made in 2018.
During her 2018 campaign, Cindy Hyde-Smith publicly stated in response to a cattle rancher praising her, "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row." This comment went viral and sparked national attention and criticism. For her to have made such a comment so openly and casually shows how inconsiderate and out-of-touch with the true nature and history of Mississippi she must be.
Considering Mississippi has one of the largest populations of Black people and the highest recorded number of lynchings of Black people in the nation, it is completely unacceptable for a Mississippi politician — let alone a U.S. Senator — to make such a gross, unnecessary and uneducated comment. Her remark wrongly paints an unprogressive Mississippi behind the times, while also hindering our growth and ability to move forward.
Mississippi's history is plagued with racial discrimination and racist laws and ideals, and with deeply rooted conservative views and undermining comments, Cindy Hyde-Smith does nothing for Mississippi other than hold us back from becoming a state which can finally move forward and heal from our past.
While Cindy-Hyde Smith has made progress in Mississippi as the first-ever woman senator, that is all she has accomplished to move Mississippi forward since her election in 2018.
Mike Espy has constantly shown us his commitment to Mississippians and how he plans to improve our state for the better while his opponent has failed to do so during both her campaigns and her current term.
When comparing the ideas, compassion and work ethic for Mississippi between the two U.S. Senate candidates for Mississippi, there is only one choice which will benefit, invoke change in and powerfully represent Mississippi, and it is Mike Espy.