A new poll shows that most Americans, including a plurality of African-Americans, don’t agree with efforts to tear down Confederate symbols.
The release of a new NPR/PBS News Hour Poll conducted by Marist should be giving Senator Roger Wicker some heartburn today. Wicker took another stab at being ‘all-leaderlike’ when it comes to the Mississippi state flag this week. This time he did so in the wake of violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia between white supremacist groups and black power groups like ‘Black Lives Matter’.
Wicker’s been on a frenzied pace to surf as many headlines as possible.
Seeing an opportunity in Charlottesville’s tragic turn of events, Wicker again called for the removal of the flag, apparently because several of the white supremacists in Virginia on Saturday decided to carry the Mississippi state flag. Wicker suggested, as he and others have before, the prominence of the Confederate Battle Flag in the upper corner is no longer acceptable, despite the fact that it’s been there since 1894, Wicker says now it should be placed in a museum.
Unity Would Be More Unifying If We Unified To Replace The Flag With Something More Unifying In The Name of Unity.
And just in case you are against pulling the state flag down and putting it in a museum, Wicker has a word for you, unity. If you’re against taking down the flag you’re against unity.
Wicker told the press at a Jackson event last week:
“It would be more unifying if we put this Mississippi flag in a museum and replaced it with something that was more unifying.”
Wicker has been sure to add during many of these staged ‘leadership moments’ that he personally doesn’t find our Mississippi flag offensive at all. But, he says, some folks don’t see it that way, so we’d be better, ahem, unified, to just get rid of it. The gist of Wicker’s point is
‘We don’t want to hurt their feelings, now do we?’
I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. But, I have to ask, did they just spontaneously develop feelings? Where were their feelings five, ten and fifteen years ago?
I’ll set aside for the moment the heavily implied paternalism in Senator Wicker’s conclusion that black citizens are overly-sensitive.
Since he doesn’t personally find the flag offensive. It really comes down to one simple either/or: Either Wicker is being honest and he thinks black Mississippians and black Americans are supersensitive whiners making excuses for themselves. Or, he’s lying and manipulating the situation for political gain.
That is to say, we can also set aside the half-hearted, middle-of-the-road positioning that too often turns many of Senator Wicker’s attempts to show “concrete leadership” into more of a show of a muddled, dispiriting stumble through a juggling act.
Ole ‘Roger Dodger’s’ oft-captured expression of wide-eyed bewilderment may only be a personality tick. But it also suggests at least the possibility of the influence of the voice of doubt, and a nagging lack of confidence kicking up storms inside his noggin.
Listening and watching Wicker speak, it’s sometimes as if he’s scanning the room to find an easy escape route. But rather than run for the door, he instead finds ways to verbally hedge his bets. Talking points are delivered with the stilted, half-heartedness of a young actor who for the first time has a speaking part in front of an audience. At other times, Senator Wicker just appears flat out confused, like he forgot his lines.
Having said that, Wicker has been in the ‘Washington political bubble’ for several years now. That may have something to do with his hesitancy and lack of assertiveness. His scheduled meetings, and politically sanitized, poll-determined positions,; the photo opps, the meetings, like so many others in Congress, these are fed to him in increments.
At some point a person has got to get in the habit of having someone standing next to them and telling them what to do and where to go.
Which gets me back to the flag issue, and the Senators decision to come out in strong opposition to the states flag. On the question of the Mississippi flag specifically, and the removal of confederate symbols of historical significance, in general, there has been a lack of polling data to suggest what exactly Americans and Mississippians are thinking about all this craziness.
In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville last weekend, many politicians and activists have called for statues honoring Confederate soldiers to be torn down.
A new poll, however, shows that most Americans, including a plurality of African-Americans, don’t agree with efforts to tear down Confederate statues.
According to a new poll conducted by Marist for NPR/PBS News Hour, 62 percent of Americans want the statues to stay where they are.
And get this:
According to the poll, 86 percent of Republicans think the statues should remain as historical symbols, whereas 6 percent said the monuments should be removed because they’re offensive to some people. Democrats were nearly split on the issue: 44 percent want the statues to stay put, while 47 percent believe they should be torn down because they’re offensive. A plurality of African-American respondents — 44 percent — said the statues should stay, while 40 percent said they should be removed:
The Marist report went on to describe black voters as “divided,” but even a plurality of black Americans think the monuments should stay.
African-Americans are divided on the question — but a plurality agree they should stay, 44 percent to 40 percent. Two-thirds of whites and Latinos believe the statues should remain as well.
The only groups in which a plurality said the statues should be removed are Democrats, especially those identifying as “strong Democrats,” those identifying as “very liberal” and those who disapprove of the president.
Those who approve of the president, however, are almost unified in their belief that the statues should stay — 89 percent to 7 percent.
Comparing Pomegranate and Grapefruit
The Marist Poll is a national poll, of course, meaning voters here in Mississippi are, to my thinking, likely going to be even stronger in favor of keeping the state flag here in Mississippi with most Republican voters. But the surprise to me with the latest poll was in the minority voters. In 2001, 30-percent of black Mississippians voted to keep the current flag.
If 44-percent of black voters nationally favor keeping the confederate statues in place, it can be reasonably argued the number of black Mississippians likely to support keeping the flag as it is today are, at the very least, not less than the same 30-percent of 2001. If that is the case, and Mississippi votes again as has been suggested we might, then the vote could end up nearly the same as in 2001.
This is all just conjecture, of course. But it’s fun conjecture. It’s “unifying.”
A national poll of voter sentiment regarding removal of monuments, with the tragic series of events that occurred in Virginia still fresh on the minds of a weary public, isn’t going to be the same as state voters opinions when it comes to the flag.
For starters, a poll is just a snapshot. You have to take many of those snapshots to develope a trendline. You can also bet that, should the time come for another ballot measure, those in opposition to the current state flag will do everything they feel they must do to get a reaction from the public in their favor. Including bring in scores of outside agitators.
Secondly, sentiments change as voters become more or less aware of issues, and this is only one poll. Fatigue over the issue could be a factor in the polling results, as well. But, I have to admit that the numbers in support of keeping the monuments are much higher than I woold have thought them to be nationally, That could be a sign people are finally getting sick of this mess and are ready to put a halt to it.
Wicker Is A Boat Without A Rudder
So, where does that leave Senator Wicker? All over the place.
Mississippians might remember that following the election of Trump, Senator Wicker suddenly became the 45th President’s ideological soulmate. Wicker’s attempts to get some of Trump’s good ju-ju got so desperate that staff resorted to taking a photo of a television screen when CSpan replayed coverage of Trump giving a speech for a commissioning ceremony and Wicker was able to get close enough for a picture. This not-so-Kodak-moment was something Wicker’s office communications staff pushed on social media with Wicker’s statement of ‘how pleased he was to be with President Trump’ that day.
That’s Just Creepy.
Trump isn’t on the receiving end of Wicker’s political goo-goo eyes so much these days. There’s a new popularly trending item on the publics radar. So, it’s back to fighting for social justice and against the flag for Wicker.
What and who will Senator Wicker be next? Who knows? It all depends on which way the wind is blowing.
Chasing hot topics around in circles isn’t exactly what most would call leadership. But the Senator is on a mission it seems.
Ryan Walters over at Misssissippi Conservative Daily has illustrated quite convincingly how Wicker’s been dancing the cha-cha. One moment his federally-subsidized friends are selling the idea of how important Wicker was in winning the Senate for Republicans, then the next moment Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is lousing that narrative up by not being able to whip enough votes to do the one thing the entire GOP has been claiming they would do for nearly a decade. One moment Wicker is supposed to be the second-coming of Barry Goldwater, the next he’s pulling a Barack Obama by trolling a tragedy in Charlottesville in hopes of capturing a few headlines.
Unfortunately for Wicker, tragedy sometimes strikes without concern for whether polling has been completed.
For starters, when someone preface a comment with, “I hate to be political about this after such a tragedy, but”–at that precise moment it’s a good chance people are going to see somebody say something that proves exactly the opposite.
Wicker doesn’t “hate to be political.” That’s like saying a fish hates to be wet. They don’t know their wet. They are immersed in the only thing they understand.
A desperate politician who puts his own political importance above all else just can’t help himself. By recognizning and saying it was bad timing to use the tragic turn of events in Virginia to his political advantage, Wicker gets credit for knowing better. But, a lot like the GOP claims of killing Obamacare, knowing better isn’t enough. Knowing better only makes it much, much more offensive that Wicker went ahead and used the tragedy, anyway.
They call that ‘poor judgement’. We all exercise it from time to time. It’s just that most of us don’t announce to the media before hand to get their cameras ready.