Maybe directing attention towards making the bible the official state book and placing “in God we trust” on the State Seal, are expressions of self-righteousness, comforting on the one hand to those who rely heavily on symbols but the actions are diversionary on the whole. Those who direct the government in this manner take on the persona of holy men directing public policy. Political priesthood bona fides established, “conservative” leaders who undermine acceptance of federal assistance to expand Medicaid or erect new voting requirements are less likely to have their judgment challenged. After all, how can holy men mislead the religious? The “conservative” leaders, as opposed to Mississippi’s poor and middle class, have an economic interest in the status quo, a crypto-neo-feudalistic system, profiting as a result of their positions. The wolves clothed as sheep are so comfortable in their disguise that they snarl those who oppose them “can get off their butts and move somewhere else.” And those comforted by the religious gestures roar approvingly, content with a vicarious moral superiority, their reverence for symbolic gestures distracting them, facilitating the shackles of last place.
The inspiration for this post was a very informative piece in the Clarion Ledger, “Why are Mississippians conservative?” by Robert S. McElvaine, Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts and Letters and chair of the Department of History at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.