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Rediscover the conservative compass

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

Mississippi’s Republican Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson addresses the crowd at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Wednesday, July 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

  • Commissioner Andy Gipson says conservative policies will keep Mississippi on track toward more freedom and prosperity.

I am thankful to have grown up here in Mississippi. My childhood activities always focused on hunting, fishing and anything outdoors. Whether it was hunting deep in the woods of Panther Swamp or fishing for speckled trout miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, I quickly learned the importance of having a reliable compass – an instrument guaranteed to provide  reliable direction.  In all my activities, it was important not to forget my compass – the one indispensable tool to make sure my family and I were headed in the right direction. 

It is apparent many leaders today seem to have forgotten their compass. They are turned around and heading in the wrong direction. Whether it is in Washington DC, or right here at home in Mississippi, too many professing “conservatives” seem to have lost their way, quickly taking one too many turns to the left.

As a community leader, a legislator, and now, as a statewide elected official, I have been a part of the conservative movement in Mississippi for nearly 20 years. I served in the minority under a Democrat-controlled House where we struggled to get 20 or 25 votes against a progressive agenda. I was also there when the first Republican majority in 136 years was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 2011.  At that time, we understood that we had a historic opportunity to enact conservative policies.  For those policies, we looked to our Constitution and to our guiding principles. We cut taxes, balanced the budget, reduced government regulations, and restored our Second Amendment freedoms.  And we led on the pro-life cause, eventually enacting the law that ended abortion-on-demand in Mississippi and in half the United States.  

Conservatives believe in less government, lower taxes, more individual freedom, and traditional family values. We also believe these policies will put and keep Mississippi on the path to greater success. Our core principles and our faith must guide and inform all our policy decisions. In short, our conservative principles are our guiding compass. Historically, these principles have been embraced by Republicans and enshrined in the Party’s platform.

There were some hard-fought conservative wins this year.  These wins include the Legislature’s passage of the SAFER Act, which will protect women’s and girls’ safe spaces in our State.  The measure regrettably was allowed to die in a Republican super-majority Legislature, but was thankfully resurrected when conservative women started protesting the decision. But we will take that as a win. More recently, I am encouraged to hear about the Legislature’s renewed interest in eliminating our state’s income tax.

As a conservative and an elected leader of this State, I am troubled at the amount of time spent this Session on issues traditionally supported by liberals. These include a progressive wish list of full-blown Medicaid expansion, early voting, felon voting, recreational marijuana, and even attempts to weaken our Second Amendment rights and undermine our pro-life laws and policies. But I am encouraged by the many conservatives in the Legislature and in leadership who stood strong to halt the leftward lurch. I thank them for that. You should, too.

Our elected leaders come to Jackson and they hear from lobbyists. They’re flattered by the liberal media. They’re wined and dined by their “friends.” When a legislator only hears from the liberal Jackson “bubble”, it becomes easy to lose perspective. The liberal bubble is quick to praise and reward these officials when they get their way.

Well, it is incumbent on us to make our voices heard, too. Your statewide elected officials in Jackson need to hear from you. Your legislators and local elected officials, in your own community, need to hear from you. I don’t mean just criticism or political threats (because if your legislator is anything like I am, a political threat isn’t a good way to influence them). They, and I, need to hear from you: encouragement to stand strong, your prayers to guard and guide our hearts and minds, your support when we do right – and yes, your rebuke when we do wrong.

With your encouragement, statewide elected leaders and the Legislature can promote and create conservative policies. The coming years can be the most conservative movement in our state’s history. If we fail to do so, we deserve your criticism. We’re accountable to you, the voters.

I hope you encourage all our elected leaders and their staffs to work together, rediscover Mississippi’s conservative compass, and follow it. Conservative policies will keep our State on track toward more freedom and prosperity and will keep us from being driven by the ever-changing winds of political correctness. Politicians change; our conservative principles never do.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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