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Opinion: Columnists

Republican establishment is missing opportunity in Mississippi

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Opinion,Star Parker,Columnists,Republican Party,Mississippi,2014 Elections,Thad Cochran

Anyone that wants to know what is wrong with today's Republican Party need only look to the state of Mississippi.

A 76-year-old Republican senator, Thad Cochran, who has been serving in Congress for 42 years, is running yet again for another six-year term. This, while his dementia-ridden wife has been sitting in a nursing home for the last 14 years.

In the primary Tuesday, Cochran lost by half a point to Tea Party Republican challenger Chris McDaniel. But because McDaniel fell short of the 50 percent mark, there will be a runoff.

Cochran should step aside now and acknowledge what is clear as a bell. Grassroots Mississippi Republicans, like Americans nationwide, want change.

But in a statement about what the Republican Party establishment is about today, they are encouraging him to continue. They would rather have an out-of-touch old man in the U.S. Senate, without a single idea for dealing with our nation’s many problems, than the thought of a Tea Party candidate who wants to do something.

Three in four Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. Barack Obama was elected in 2008 in response to Americans wanting something new.

Now many Americans finally realize that what Obama has to offer they don’t want. So opportunity knocks for a newly energized and principled Republican opposition.

But instead of delivering something new, the Republican establishment wants to deliver what is old. Cochran’s agenda is to continue to serve up government pork to Mississippi and protect the interests of his friends in Washington.

America today barely resembles the nation when Thad Cochran first assumed office in January 1973.

The federal budget then was $250 billion compared to more than $4 trillion today.

Medicare was a relatively new program, with 25 million enrollees, spending less than $3,000 per enrollee, compared to more than 50 million enrollees today, spending more than $11,000 per enrollee.

Abortion was illegal. It wasn't until several weeks after Cochran first assumed office that the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Since then, for the duration of Cochran's service in Washington, more than 50 million unborn children have been destroyed.

Less than 10 percent of our babies were born to unwed mothers in 1973 compared to 42 percent today.

The personal computer did not exist and it would be another 20-plus years before the Internet would become a commercial reality.

In a Gallup survey done in the last quarter of 2013, 46 percent of Americans self-identified as Independent - an all-time high.

And just 22 percent identified as Republican – an all-time low.

Americans want change and the Republican Party establishment does not. This is the problem.

When Thad Cochran began service in Washington, 85 percent of the American population was white, compared to 64 percent today.

Mississippi has the largest percentage of blacks in the nation – 37 percent of its population. Forty-four percent of this black population is poor.

These low income Americans can and must be courted by a party that will promote pro-growth, pro-family policies that they and all Americans need. A Republican Party promoting this agenda as an alternative to the welfare state left that has done grave damage to these low-income communities would be welcome.

Protecting a 76-year-old senator who has been in Washington for almost half a century, with no interest beyond protecting the status quo, is the sign of a party which is the problem, not the solution.

Mississippi grassroots Republicans have spoken and the party establishment should accept it. The change that should occur in Mississippi should serve as a message there and around the nation.

Get rid of the old and bring in the new.

STAR PARKER, a Washington Examiner columnist, is an author and president of CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and Education. She can be reached at www.urbancure.org
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Star Parker

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The Washington Examiner