HERE WE GO AGAIN …
By FITSNEWS || Barring a miracle, S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen is going to lose his gubernatorial rematch against incumbent “Republican” Nikki Haley this November. He’s run a terrible campaign, and Haley has (thusfar) managed to avoid any major missteps.
Accordingly, South Carolina’s Governor’s Mansion is all but assured of remaining in GOP hands … for whatever that’s worth.
Prior to exiting statewide political stage, though, Sheheen decided to drop the proverbial “stink bomb” on the Palmetto landscape – specifically his recent call for the removal of the Confederate flag from its current position on the north lawn of the S.C. State House grounds.
According to Sheheen, “we must fly a flag that brings us all together. We must be a state that looks forward, towards a future of possibilities not backwards to discord.”
It’s been fourteen years since the flag was moved from atop the State House dome (and from its perch within the S.C. House and State Senate chambers) and placed on the north lawn.
“Off the dome and in your face,” as supporters of the banner are fond of saying.
This compromise – which attracted the support of black and white lawmakers – is now squarely in the crosshairs again. And it is likely to remain there as the 2016 presidential primary circus ramps up.
In fact within the next sixteen months, we expect a movement to emerge aimed at removing the flag from the State House altogether – similar to the movement that emerged in 2000 to take it off the dome.
For reasons surpassing understanding, “Republicans” permit the voters of South Carolina – who are getting dumber with each passing year – to play a prominent role in the selection of their presidential nominee every four years. They’ve responded by choosing the worst president ever (well, prior to the current one), the worst presidential candidate ever and … well, this guy.
Yeah. Way to go, South Carolina …
Anyway, the national attention this “First in the South” presidential primary brings to the Palmetto State has been almost uniformly negative. Especially in 2000, when a nasty battle between George W. Bush and John McCain played out against the backdrop of countless stories about the Confederate flag.
As a result of that national pressure, the flag was removed from the dome (and the House and Senate chambers) in April 2000. Most people accepted the compromise – but a vocal minority (pardon the pun) has been steadfast in opposing the flag’s continued presence on the State House grounds.
They want it in a museum. Or just gone.
The NAACP, for example, has been enforcing a tourism boycott against South Carolina ever since the compromise was passed, while the NCAA is refusing to hold collegiate athletic tournaments in the Palmetto state due to the presence of the flag. Meanwhile some Democratic lawmakers have attempted to discourage football recruits from attending the University of South Carolina as a result of the flag’s presence.
Of course as they rage against this symbol, many black leaders have supported – or failed to condemn – millions of dollars in spending on Confederate-themed nonsense.
So there’s that …
As 2014 fades in 2015, the looming presidential primary will prompt another round of national scrutiny on South Carolina. And Sheheen’s gubernatorial gambit – clearly desperate and likely ineffective as it pertains to his own race – nonetheless guarantees the Confederate flag issue will be part of the intensifying national scrutiny in advance of the presidential race.
What does that mean? Well for starters it means S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – who sometimes fancies herself as presidential timber, other times views herself as the ringleader of the Palmetto presidential circus (um, not really) – will need to work on a much better answer to the question “do you support the flag compromise?”
Three years ago Haley supported it … but this year she seems less sure of her position.
She’s (rightfully) called out her opponent for being desperate, but that response only works in the context of her race. The bigger debate is still out there.
Beyond Haley, every potential, presumptive or declared presidential candidate who rolls into South Carolina over the next sixteen months had better have a definitive answer on the Confederate flag issue prepared as well … and be prepared to defend that position.
In the fall of 2009, 40 percent of FITS readers wanted the flag to stay where it is. Meanwhile 34 percent wanted it back on top of the State House and 26 percent wanted it off the grounds completely and placed in a museum.
This year a much broader sample of readers – polled in the wake of Sheheen’s gambit – found 38 percent who support the flag’s current location, 34 percent who want it moved to a museum and 28 percent who want it raised from the dome again.
Talk about the definition of a divisive issue …
This website continues to view the issue as pointless. We believe symbols like the Confederate flag – or any other flag – don’t matter because they can easily be used by anybody to advance anything … just like political labels.
“State leaders can leave it, move it, burn it or use it as a bath towel for all we care,” we wrote back in 2011.
Of course we can dismiss the issue all we want … that doesn’t change the fact it’s back in a big way at the precise moment the eyes of the political world are refocusing their attention on our fair state.