“Paranoid state: Transient psychotic disorder in which the main element is a delusion, usually persecutory or grandiose in nature.”
—Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life
ROLLING FORK — The Republican cheerleader camp that the fabled Neshoba County Fair has turned into in recent years is usually a lot more noteworthy when there’s an election coming up, but this year’s may go down as the one when the fellow in charge of this state relaxed, let his guard down and allowed a little bit of something either mighty presumptuous or flat crazy to seep out.
I am reminded of an old family story from my mother’s side. Quite a few years ago in a certain Delta county, a certain lady we’ll call Mrs. Smith, a fine old Southern damsel if ever there were such, had tragically lost her husband and at the funeral, consistent with the equally Southern tradition of nosing into the business of others, some concerned soul asked her what might she do in the wake of that loss.
Unnerved, and with stiff upper lip, Mrs. Smith immediately responded that folks need not worry, in that she could “fully lean upon” her son for any and all of her needs. Regrettably, that self-same young man was known by virtually everyone else in that gathered crowd to be a more than slightly addled-brained, shiftless, naer-do-well, unable to adequately take care of himself, much less another.
There was, as the story goes, a brief period of dead silence following her remark, which was then broken (perhaps not surprisingly) by a relative of mine who turned to the dear lady, took her by the hands and (perhaps not surprisingly) said to her: “Mrs. Smith, in that case, I fear you are leaning on a bent stick.”
That story, I related, in order to suggest this: If a certain speech at the Neshoba County Fair from this state’s highest elected official is any gauge, then the fine people of the great and sovereign state of Mississippi, not unlike that poor, long ago lady, just might also be leaning on a bent stick.
No doubt feeling the need to match his most ambitious Lt. Gov., who recited the entire Republican creed the day before, the governor of this state confirmed my long-held suspicion that he doesn’t get many calls for advice from NASA by saying something, that if taken literally, which I do not, would classify him as clinically delusional.
First, Gov. Phil Bryant said that after focusing on education and creating jobs in his first term of office, he will now concentrate on public safety. Fine. Good. I and the rest of the public are wholeheartedly in favor of safety.
But then the governor said something else. Then the governor said that he has a “divine responsibility” to oppose abortion, re-establish prayer in schools and protect gun ownership. And that’s not fine. And that’s not good.
“Divine responsibility,” governor? Really? Do you think yourself anointed by the Almighty to carry out what you perceive to be conservative Christian policies? Have you alone been “divinely” chosen as the one to do so?
Well, sir, if you do, then I have a constitutional responsibility to tell you something: The Blues Brothers were on “a mission from God,” Gov. Bryant. You aren’t. And you shouldn’t be. And if you really think you are, then you just might be a little bit wacky. Kindly see the highly relevant definition above.
Thinking you have a “divine responsibility” is a little bit like thinking you are Napoleon and a whole lot like what a competent psychiatrist would call a messianic complex.
This isn’t about your stated policy priorities, governor, all of which are wildly popular in this state and hence, most courageous of you to champion. But how dare you, sir, claim to fathom the mind of God and how dare you proclaim yourself the agent to carry out His wishes?
There is very little godly in politics, governor, and nothing divine at all in cheap, populist, political theatrics.
» Ray Mosby is the owner of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork, and is a former winner of the Oliver Emmerich Award for editorial writing in Mississippi.