CARSWELL/ The danger of do-nothing conservatives

CARSWELL/ The danger of do-nothing conservatives


Before I came to Mississippi, I was a Member of the British Parliament for 12 years for Clacton.  Donald Trump’s friend, Nigel Farage, has now decided to run for election in Clacton on July 4th.

I’m delighted and I encouraged Nigel to run the moment it was announced that there would be a General Election. (I know, the Brits do politics differently with flexible, rather than fixed, terms)

Back in the old country, the Conservative party faces annihilation.

Having sat in office since 2010, Britain’s Conservatives have failed to govern on conservative principles.  Today, their supporters are abandoning them for Nigel Farage’s new Reform party. 

Perhaps this should serve as a stark warning for those who campaign as conservatives, but who govern as progressives.

Here in Mississippi, Republicans have been in charge since 2011, about as long as Britain’s Conservatives. 

 Where are the big strategic changes our state needs?  What reforms are being advanced to elevate Mississippi?

There are, I would suggest, three top challenges Mississippi faces:

• The state of education: Sure, there might have been some marginal improvements in standards thanks to the use of phonics.  Overall education standards remain poor.  Two out of three 4th graders in government schools fail to achieve proficiency in reading or math.  Almost one in four Mississippi students are chronically absent from school.

• Low labor participation: At a time when millions of migrants are moving to America to work, often illegally, nothing of substance has been done in our state to address the fact that 48 percent of Mississippi adults of working age are not even active in the labor market.

• DEI in state institutions:  Despite having conservatives elected, many of Mississippi’s public institutions, including universities, are run by those beholden to Marxist academic ideology. 

 Imagine if we were to use the notionally conservative majority in our state to accomplish actual conservative reforms to tackle any of this?  

 Here is a list of some of the bills that were blocked in the most recent legislative session:

• Ballot initiative, passed by the House, blocked by the Senate.

• Anti DEI legislation, blocked. 

• School choice.  Allow families to choose schools between different districts. Blocked. 

• Healthcare reform.  Repeal intentionally restrictive laws that limit the provision of healthcare. Blocked.

The one big achievement of the session, Rep. Rob Roberson’s INSPIRE bill which personalizes school funding for students, passed because of Speaker White’s drive and determination.  Eight weeks ago there were still some in the Senate intent on preserving the old Soviet-era funding formula.

Morton Blackwell, a great American hero who I happened to meet for tea in Jackson, once said that “In politics, nothing moves unless it’s pushed.”

He’s right.  If we want to see conservative policies implemented in our state, we are going to have to do a lot of pushing!

Nobody likes to be pushed, particularly politicians.  Leaders will not thank you for making them do something they would preferred not to have done, as my experience with Brexit taught me.

Here at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy we are 100 percent in the business of pushing for the kind of bold, principled conservative reforms we need. 

We need to start using our conservative majority to deliver the kind of changes we are starting to see in Republican-run states throughout the South.

Douglas Carswell was appointed President & CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy in January 2021.

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