Mizell discusses politics with BHS civics class

Published 5:32 am Wednesday, October 26, 2016

State Sen. Beth Mizell stopped by Bogalusa High School on Monday afternoon to chat with a group of civics students.

Mizell, who is a BHS graduate, spoke for about a half hour about the importance of conviction and making good decisions. Although toward the end, her talk evolved into an informal discussion over the current political season.

Mizell began by talking about the state legislature, and she pointed out that of the 39 state senators, only six are female.

“Women need more representation in the state of Louisiana,” she said.

However, Mizell told the students that if they want to become productive members of society they need to make good decisions.

“As footloose and fancy free as you are right now, you’re going to be an adult and making decisions. You’re going to be a voter,” she said.

She echoed President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote about doing more for your country than it does for you, and she underscored this with the Louisiana state flag. The flag features a pelican pricking her flesh and feeding her blood to her babies.

“I wonder if you see yourself as the one giving the blood to the babies or as the babies,” she asked the students.

Mizell told the students her biggest regret is not going to college. She said she didn’t go to college because, after high school, she got married to her boyfriend who was in the Navy and facing Vietnam.

“When I was here, this was the difference between just having dances and boys and football games, we had Vietnam going on. Seniors were either being drafted or joining the Army because they knew they would be drafted,” she said. “There was a time pressure with Vietnam that is different than now. … You didn’t know if your brother or boyfriend or son would be sent away. … So my boyfriend, who was several years older than I was, he was in the Navy, and we got married that fall and I went to where he was in the Navy, to his base.

“So it came down to, there was nobody there to take care of me. I had to take care of myself. I ended up getting a job. He made $180 dollars a month and rent was $90 dollars a month. … So I got a job and once I started working, I kept working. But my whole point is, I never stopped reading. I kept reading. And I never read junk. I read books that, had I gone to college, I would have read those books. I felt that I had something to prove.”

Mizell took questions from the audience, and soon the presidential debates came up. Mizell said the national campaign illustrates the need for a belief system.

“When somebody asks you, as you asked me, about the debate, you need to be able to say, ‘I know what I believe about that,’” she said. “You have got to know where your values are. You have got to know whether you believe in bigger government or smaller government. You need to know what you believe.”

One of the students asked her whom she supported for president. Mizell pointed out that she is a Republican, so she supports GOP candidate Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, though Mizell said she’s no fan of Trump.

“I’d rather (vote for) a crazy man than a liar,” she said.