Published on January 22nd, 2020 | by Randy Weeks0
The View from the Balcony: An Open Letter to Governor Jonathan Tate Reeves
Dear Governor Reeves:
Congratulations on being elected as Mississippi’s next Governor. In full disclosure, I did not vote for you. I haven’t voted for a republican for Governor ever, if memory serves, and not for President since my first vote for President went to “Tricky Dick” Nixon. But you won the election and now you are our Governor.
I wish you success in terms of what is best for ALL the people of Mississippi. In your inaugural address on January 14, you promised just that. You promised it to the people of Mississippi, you promised it to God, and you invoked God’s help in accomplishing your goals. I’m sure you mean “God” in a generic sense, as many Mississippians see Deity differently from each other.
You said that Mississippi has a “loving culture that underpins our quality of life,” that “a culture of love and kinship has knitted Mississippi families together, and tied them to each other for ages,” that you “will defend that culture against the erosion that frays societies,” and that you “will work to make sure our state government’s functions reflect the love we have for each other.”
Yes, there’s a lot of love in Mississippi, but there’s a lot of injustice, too. And there are very, very dark times in our history that we’d better not forget or gloss over.
I’m thankful to know that you will be working for great jobs for everyone. It’s wonderful that our Governor will be working for equal employment opportunities for everyone: African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, the old, the young, the handicapped, males, females, the transgendered, the gay, the straight, the Muslim, the Jew, the Christian, the atheist. I know we’re on the same page. Otherwise you wouldn’t have said, “It must be the mission of our government to open the doors of generational opportunity to more people in our state, north and south, man and woman, black and white.”
I’m also glad you will be looking out for our foster children, our special needs children, and those who are incarcerated. That is exactly what love calls for, and clearly you are committed to love—God’s love, no less.
You said that one of your missions is to give us more national board-certified teachers per capita than any state in the nation: “It is a goal we can achieve—and one worth achieving. We have done it before and we can do it again.” I had no idea we’d ever been first in that. I’d love to know when. Was it under Governor William Winters’ (D) leadership, the “Education Governor”?
You invoked the names of former Governors Haley Barbour and Phil Bryant, two bastions of equality and justice. I was once told by a very honest person that they actually heard Governor Barbour say that he could take care of the mentally ill in Mississippi for twenty-five dollars a day each. How? By putting them in jail. And you and Governor Bryant have walked in lock-step with our current President who brags openly about how he can get away with grabbing a woman by her p***y or killing someone in broad daylight, and that he’s never had to ask God for forgiveness for anything. I assure you that I’ll sleep better knowing you’re at the helm.
But Mississippi’s future is bright, because you’ve pledged to continue doing all those things that almost no Governor has done in the past, and God is going to help you.
I’m reminded of lyrics from one of Mississippi’s well-deserving members of the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, Jim Weatherly:
Mississippi, this is your song,
sung for all the righteous people
who don’t let you forget
when you were wrong.
We won’t change for the better by forgetting our past, and if we keep on making the same mistakes over and over again, to paraphrase William Faulkner, the past will never be past.
Governor Reeves, I truly hope you will lead Mississippi to higher ground. I fear that your words are more “sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.” I’d love to be surprised. Surprise me. Please. Please, please, please, please, PLEASE SURPRISE ME!!!
. . . and that’s the view from The Balcony.