Miss America of 2013 was not Miss Congeniality of election night.
The woman that at least one bio describes as a former beauty queen was a bit fiesty after ungraciously acknowledging defeat Tuesday night in a race against incumbent Mike Rogers for Congress.
The surprising target of ire: Her own political party, Alabama Democrats.
How about this for a concession speech:
“I am mad as hell right now. There are people in control of the Democratic Party who say they are fighting for you; who say they are standing up for you; who say they care about you and your communities and yet they s**t on Democratic candidates left and right. Excuse my language.
“They take from us, they demean us, they condescend to us as we run, they… they are not what I think what the state of Alabama stands for. And I have dealt with it through this campaign cycle with my chin high and a smile on my face because I wanted to fight for all of you and for our state.”
Ladies and gentlemen, our former Miss America has spoken.
A closer look
Mallory Hagan has proven she can be either one: a beauty queen or a political attack dog. Whether you think that’s good or bad probably depends on how you feel about the latest issue into which she’s sinking her teeth.
Mike Rogers isn’t just an incumbent solidly embedded as Alabama’s District 3 representative in Congress. He is well liked by his supporters, and his supporters are also voters who go to the voting booth and see only red.
Mike is a young-looking but very politically experienced 60 years old.
Mallory is a politico novice at 29.
Mike is on several important committees and subcommittees, including the House Armed Services Committee that deals with national security.
Mallory is not, but much to her credit, she successfully led a highly publicized charge to change the scope and perception of the Miss America organization, which in turn reflected on viewpoints of women and their many important abilities beyond wearing an evening gown on stage.
Good or bad?
Another factor is that Opelika, Mallory’s home town, is in the southern portion of District 3, while the Anniston-Jacksonville area to the north is Mike’s hometown.
It’s safe to say that despite Mallory having won the Miss America title in 2013, she is less known up in Calhoun County than Mike is here in Lee County. So, for several reasons, it was a steep, uphill climb for her to take an upset win in the congressional race.
She knew that, but she ran anyway, thinking the Democratic Party had her back and, like with her Miss America platform, that the race would give her an opportunity to have her voice heard on important issues.
So now we get to the interesting question. Is her outburst on election night a political killer to her, or the best thing since FDR’s New Deal for the Democratic Party?
From the heart
Let’s hear Mallory again:
“I think the most important thing is that I have promised the people in Alabama, in the 3rd District and everybody who supported this campaign, that I would fight for them. Right now the fight that I see that needs to take place is within the state of Alabama, in the Democratic Party.
“We need a change of leadership and we need young people who are the future who are fighting for what it is that all of us know that we deserve as constituents, and so I will continue to do that.
"I don’t know exactly what’s next, but I know that I will stay here and I will continue to do everything that I said I’d do in Congress. I’ll do it from right here at home,” she vowed.
It’s easy to laugh or cry if you’re a straight-ticket, party-of-your-choice diehard.
Believers in the value of a true, vibrant democracy, however, see the importance of having two parties that both are strong and capable of making the other better.
Keeping the ruling party in check, improving the way things are accomplished, and that seemingly lost concept of unity actually all can be enhanced when public debate is created and exposes the strengths and weaknesses of any idea or movement.
You’re either a conservative, liberal, independent or lost. But the reason you’re free to decide is because you’re American.
A free and vibrant democracy allows people like Mallory Hagan and Mike Rogers to be as different in blue and red as they like, yet still dare to challenge the other -- or themselves -- and thus make the other stronger from the fight.
A final thought
Me? I’m a Southern Baptist, so I’ll leave you with this.
There was a man long stranded alone on a deserted island and before he was rescued, the helicopter crew saving him noticed three huts below.
“Why the three huts?” they asked him.
“Well,” he scratched his head and said, “One is my home. The other is my church. But I fell into disagreement with my church, so I started a new one.”
Disagreements happen. They can be good, or bad.
Embrace the good.
Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @troyturnernews.