Article Comment 

Scott Colom: Ending the 'good ole boy' system


Scott Colom



Odds are Ron Williams won''t be our next governor. Williams, a Republican, has never held elected office. Williams hasn''t raised much money; in fact, on his website he claims to "actively urge supporters not to contribute" because "he understands that since times are tough, we all need to save our money and spend it wisely."  


Williams is also running against a heavily favored candidate in Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant. Bryant has been elected to statewide office three times, has raised more money than the other candidates, and has actively courted the Mississippi Tea Party, an important constituency in the Republican primary. However, after watching the televised gubernatorial debate last Thursday, I think Williams'' message will resonate with a surprising mix of voters and, in the future, could change the political landscape in Mississippi.  


Before the debate, I knew little about Williams. I read one article that mentioned he was a resident of Moss Point and had a small environmental contracting business. The article also said he thinks the governor''s mansion needs a businessman rather than a career politician. But on these points, Williams sounded like Dave Dennis, another successful business owner from the Gulf Coast turned Republican gubernatorial candidate.  


However, from the first question of the debate, Williams laid out a anti-establishment message. Williams argued the state capitol operated under a "good ole boy" system; one in which the well-connected receive government contracts and tax breaks, while everyone else is left to fend for themselves. Williams claimed this system works by "giving special tax status to certain industries" that have "the right lobbyists or contribute to the right campaign."  


Throughout the debate, Williams tied this message to his answer to each question. When asked whether he would have joined the lawsuit to challenge "Obamacare," Williams answered affirmatively but also said the state should remove the mandated insurance monopoly and increase insurance opportunities by allowing out of state competition. However, Williams insisted this would never happen "as long as the high special interest insurance industries control these candidates."  


In response to a question about voter identification, Williams said he supported it but felt the issue was being used to divide white and black voters so the "working men and women of Mississippi won''t vote as Mississippians" and "change the power that''s in Jackson." Williams also said Mississippi would not reduce poverty "until we stop diverting taxpayer dollars that are suppose to be moving our state forward to special interests and campaign contributors."  


This populist message probably won''t be enough to get Williams past the Republican primary, but I think Williams has identified an issue boiling below the surface. Increasingly, people are questioning the sincerity of our political system and our elected officials. The reliance on television advertisements to build name identification and spread a candidate''s message (even though there''s little substantive value to these ads) forces candidates to raise large sums of money. Much of this money is raised from Political Action Committees and large contributors, not average citizens.  


Common sense tells most Mississippians that some of this money comes with expectations attached. And the more people think government decisions are attempts to meet these expectations, rather than serve the best interests of the citizens, the more likely people are to support a candidate that promises to end the "good ole boy" system.


Scott Colom is a local attorney.


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Reader Comments

Article Comment nativecolumbian commented at 7/27/2011 9:34:00 PM:

I usually agree with you ! And I like the sound of Williams; but, he can't get elected because of the very reasons you mentioned..It is truly sad that,we, ther people, have lost contron of people who are supposed to work for us..Sadly they work for what the money tells them to work for. I dispise all "politicians"! and I think most Americans don't trust them any more than I do..I still have hope that the winds of change are blowing (no the chage obummer envisioned for us.. The reality of his cange is dismal. I do kinda like the Crain/Craig guy though..


Article Comment kj commented at 7/27/2011 11:58:00 PM:

Although I like some of what he's saying, he's absolutely dead wrong on the insurance issue. If we allow "out of state" competition on insurance what we end up with is insurance companies governed by exactly what he wants to protect from: companies based in whichever state they can wield the most influence and therefore set the lowest bar for performance and the highest bar for challenging wrongdoing. We would just be transferring accountability out of our own jurisdiction.

But cheers for eschewing special interest money. That alone may end up earning my vote.


Article Comment jmm440 commented at 7/28/2011 9:09:00 AM:

It seems like the qualifications to get an opinion column are too lenient.


Article Comment melody commented at 7/28/2011 10:16:00 AM:

Most politicians are lawyers or wanta bee's. So there is a good o boy system in their profession , believe it or not. Someone once said that lawyers are buried 12 feet deep when they die cause down deep they are really good people. Another said , the way to tell if a lawyer is using forked tongue all you have to do is watch the lips , if they start moving , here comes another lie. Kinda reminds you of Obama.


Article Comment hope commented at 7/28/2011 11:52:00 AM:

Passing a law that money paid to a lobbyist would be a bribe would go a long way toward ending the good ole boy system. The lobbyists, through their greedy sponsors, are destroying America. America has enough resources for everybody's need, but not for everybody's greed.


Article Comment feedfixer commented at 7/28/2011 3:21:00 PM:

America has enough resources for everybody's need,

Hope, I agree with this. The only problem is American's have to walk out the front door everyday and go gather those resources. We cannot sit at home and wait for the government to deliver them to us.


Article Comment hope commented at 7/28/2011 3:53:00 PM:

@feedfixer;here's a start---------no more jobs in America can be outsourced until our unemployment goes to 4%.


Article Comment zenreaper commented at 7/28/2011 5:26:00 PM:

Hope, do you want the government telling YOU who you can or can't work for, or what companies or brands you HAVE to hire or use? Of course not. So why should the government be allowed to do that to any other company?


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 7/29/2011 5:46:00 AM:

Moo people, moooooo. Attention cattle!!! Attention!!! There are no honest political parties. There are no honest politicians. And this explains why every time you think you are voting for change you end up getting the same steaming pile of meadow muffins you had the last time.

The only real question left is: do you ever learn?


Article Comment ron williams commented at 7/29/2011 6:26:00 PM:

Thanks for the Column. You know, the only thing preventing us ( the voters ) from controlling our State is our unwillingness to do so. I am not a politician. I don't want to serve two terms, unless it i necessary. My campaign is about ending the waste of corruption and special interests. If we do this, we have the resources to solve our major problems. Pleae remember me in the Primary.


Article Comment walter commented at 8/12/2011 10:04:00 AM:

One thing is for certain: unless the people of the state are willing to try someone other than an established politician, the citizens will continue to hold the last position in everything that is positive and the first in all things that are negative.

A new day, someday, will be realized in Mississippi. A new breed of Sheriff in Hinds! While there have been a few good Sheriffs in the Golden Triangle, I wonder what are the chances of Clay, Lowndes or Oktibbeha electing an African American, a female or Asian to that very important office, in the near future?


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