With God on Our Side

One of Us Still Loses

Melanie Sojourner
Bob Dearing


And you never ask questions 
            When God's on your side.                                           Bob Dylan 

A classic matchup. First Baptist vs. First Presbyterian. Woman vs. Man. Youth (47) vs. Age (80). Present Incumbent vs. Former Incumbent. Republican vs. Democrat. The Race for Mississippi Senate District 37.

Four years ago Republican Melanie Sojourner ousted Democrat Bob Dearing who had served since 1980. Now it appears that, in a year when the Republicans attained a super majority in the House while continuing their grip on the Senate, the old Democrat has returned the favor to the first term Republican. While the results have not yet been certified, both candidates believe Mr. Dearing won by about 50 votes. 

In the Senate Ms. Sojourner portrayed herself as one of the few real conservatives among the Republicans. She allied herself with Senator Chris McDaniel and took on an adversarial role in relation to the Mississippi Republican Party and the Senate leadership, especially the Lt. Governor, Tate Reeves, whom she frequently attacked. When Sen. McDaniel took on longtime Republican Senator Thad Cochran in 2014, Ms. Sojourner served as his campaign manager. Since Mr. McDaniel, after leading in the first primary lost in the second, when Mr. Cochran appealed to Democrats to support him, she and Mr. McDaniel have remained bitter, continuously attacked "the establishment," and declared their unmitigated hostility toward former Governor, Haley Barbour. 

As might be expected, "the establishment" primaried Sen. Sojourner. However, against two Republican opponents she won on outright majority in the Primary. After his defeat Mr. Dearing was not ready to go home to his rocking chair and await the upward call. He ran in the Democrat primary and won handily. Thus Mr. Dearing and Ms. Sojourner met again in the general election with Mr. Dearing eaking out the win. 

For Ms. Sojourner this was a contest between pure conservatism and extreme liberalism, between those who would save the Republic and those who would contribute to its destruction, between good and bad. Mr. Dearing, a politician of the older sort, seemed to have conceived the election as a more prosaic affair -reclaiming of his office, focusing on constituent services, and pledging after the election to work with the Senate leadership as much as possible. (There are rumors he has made a "deal" with the Lt. Governor and will switch parties.) 

But in one thing both candidates agree. Both believed God was on their side. When Ms. Sojourner suspected that she might lose she appealed to the almost always misused Jeremiah 29:11. When her own unofficial vote count showed her losing, the statement she issued included: 

But, let me be clear. Regardless of the final outcome, this is not the end for me. And it is not the end 
for you, my friends and supporters. Whatever plans God may have for me, I promise to continue my fight against liberalism and to restore American exceptionalism and liberty-based conservatism to the Republican Party and Mississippi.
In its article reporting the unofficial count, the Natchez Democrat, quoted Mr. Dearing saying:
When I qualified on February 22 my prayers that night were to God was for his guidance during this election campaign and with his guidance he has brought me through it. 
Their Facebook pages included many spiritual encouragements from their supporters. Mr. Dearing's supporters assured him of their prayers and quoted uplifting Bible verses. He himself several times in his his first morning post quoted, "And when I rise, give me Jesus." Ms. Sojourner's supporters also assured her of their prayers, but took on her more apocalyptic vision of her role of saving her party, state, and nation or of interpreting the contest in the context of signs of the end of the age.

Is Mr. Dearing's win an answer to his and his supporters' prayers - as it were a divine endorsement? Is Ms. Sojourner's defeat God's repudiation of her cause or a sign that the final conflict is just ahead? Whose side was God on? For whom did he cast his vote? Did God win or lose?

Even with God on your side, somebody wins and somebody loses. Where does that put God?

But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.
                               Bob Dylan

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