The Fourth of July is upon us – with most of us relaxing from our regular routines during this extra-long holiday weekend. Still, there is no shortage of news impacting our weekly index – much of it emanating from First Street in Washington, D.C.
We are referring, of course, to the U.S. supreme court – whose justices were busy handing down a series of decisive rulings to close out their 2023 term.
How will these rulings impact the 2024 electoral landscape?
Our founding editor Will Folks and our political columnist Mark Powell produce this index each week – tracking the rising and falling fortunes of politicos at multiple levels. Got a hot “stock tip” for their consideration? Email Will (here) and/ or Mark (here). Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.
Remember, our installment is simply an assessment of how individuals (or institutions) fared over the past week. Positive reports certainly don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t indicative of a vendetta. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. To borrow Walter Cronkite’s famous line, “That’s the way it is …” No more, no less.
Also, a quick reminder … just because your favorite (or least favorite) politician didn’t wind up on this week’s list doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. Look for them to appear in future indices …
Who’s up and who’s down this week? Find out where to invest your capital in this abbreviated holiday edition of the Palmetto Political Stock Index. Let’s roll!
U.S. SUPREME COURT
Incredible as this sounds, Joe Biden (of all people) got it right. “This is not a normal court.”
The high court ended its June term by dropping a string of bombshell rulings late in the week. These rulings immediately sent seismic shockwaves reverberating across the presidential landscape.
In a major decision, the court struck down affirmative action in the college admissions process. Next, it found Biden’s pet college debt write-off scheme was unconstitutional. Then, it garnished all that with twin rulings that especially cheered conservatives. First, justices upheld a U.S. Postal Service employee’s refusal to work on Sundays for religious reasons – and it concluded a cause célèbre by siding with a designer who objected to creating wedding websites for same-sex couples. Throw in last year’s landmark Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and progressives are pitching a colossal conniption fit.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer’s reaction was typical.
“The fanatical MAGA right have captured the Supreme Court and achieved dangerous, regressive policies that they could never attain at the ballot box,” he tweeted.
Pennsylvania state senator Vincent Hughes was more succinct. “Damn the Supreme Court!” he bellowed at a news conference.
And, of course, the Democrats’ echo chamber (a.k.a. the mainstream media) filled the airwaves with endless ranting about institutional discrimination, Jim Crow, and their very favorite bugaboo of all, racism. Why? Because woke progressives and their MSM allies can’t get it into their heads that this is 2023. They stubbornly cling to the mistaken belief that it’s perpetually 1953.
We’re witnessing a Supreme Court that has turned its back on judicial activism and enthusiastically embraced a strictly constitutional-based interpretation of the law. It has rejected the tissue-thin judicial logic previous courts have used to transform the bench into a launchpad for furthering the liberal agenda. No more.
“This is not a normal court.” Thankfully, you’re right, Mr. President.
It was supposed to be a regular campaign rally. Instead, Donald Trump roared into South Carolina’s Upstate on Saturday in a show of sheer political force.
His supporters flooded sleepy little Pickens, swelling its usual population of 3,370 to 30,000 or more, with local law enforcement estimating a crowd as high as 50,000. Some guestimates went as high as 75,000. Aerial photos showed downtown transformed into a sea of red hats and T-shirts.
It was Trump’s first campaign visit to the Palmetto State since his recent state and federal indictments. And the MAGA faithful welcomed him with open arms. South Carolina and the 45th president have long enjoyed a love affair stretching back to the 2016 presidential primary – which catapulted him to the White House. Saturday’s turnout showed Trump’s legal woes aren’t dampening that romance.
The takeaway here is simple: Though plenty can change between now and February, as of this moment any challenger going up against Trump in the Palmetto State (including a former governor and an incumbent U.S. senator) is doing so at their own political peril.
Speaking of the peril of challenging Trump (or at least his muscular brand of non-interventionism), his erstwhile enemy – U.S. senator Lindsey Graham – was literally booed off of the stage at Saturday’s rally in Pickens.
Pretty rough treatment for someone who was born and raised just ten miles away from the town …
A political shape-shifter, Graham has evolved over the years from a stalwart #NeverTrumper into one of his most vocal allies of convenience. That earned him the ire of many of his former mainstream media allies, but it got Graham across the finish line in his 2020 election – which was the whole point.
Expect Graham to continue his chameleon act as his next statewide election approaches … but judging by the reaction of the MAGA faithful in Pickens, don’t expect GOP primary voters to fall for it this go-round.
MOMS FOR LIBERTY
Fresh on the heels of being deemed an “extremist group” by the ultra-radical Southern Poverty Law Center, Moms For Liberty showed over the weekend that it’s not taking its foot off the political gas pedal.
The group drew a large, enthusiastic crowd at its second annual Joyful Warriors confab in Philadelphia. The organization – which boasts a high-profile presence here in South Carolina – is an emerging force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by the A-List of presidential candidates who spoke.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis is the group’s darling for having stood up to school closings, CRT in the classroom, and the overt sexualization of small children in Florida. He said what has happened in public schools recently “has awakened a powerful force in this country.” Meanwhile, former President Trump told attendees, “you’re the best thing that has ever happened to America.”
With 285 chapters in 45 states, a claimed membership of more than 115,000 and success in flipping control of several school boards around the country, Moms for Liberty is not to be taken lightly. If the political pros and pundits are correct in saying suburban women are the key demographic necessary for winning several important swing states, Moms talking to fellow moms will be worth watching in 2024.
The Fourth of July falls at the midpoint of the year, making this the ideal time to pause and take inventory of the prospects for America’s future – especially ahead of a presidential election year.
It’s terribly trite and cliché, but it’s still true: America is at a crossroads. That’s hardly a new dynamic; our country has reached and successfully maneuvered its way through many crucial junctures over the past 247 years.
But past performance is no guarantee of future success. Each generation must weigh the options before it and decide anew what course to pursue. The decision is only answerable in short, incremental bursts of time. It’s also the reason why our national anthem famously ends with a question. (“Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…”)
As we move toward 2024, the opposing views now dividing our country show no sign of abating. In fact, the opposite is true. The rifts are growing deeper and more dangerous, with supporters on all sides digging in their heels more determinedly than ever. There’s no need to rehash what those divisions are – or which side believes what.
Yet an increasingly uneasy feeling seizes the land, an unsettling understanding that somehow this time is different. That’s because we’re facing more than the usual Republican vs. Democrat differences. This time, things go way beyond that.
We could recite a litany of concerns, but one sums up our predicament better than all the rest. When Americans can’t even agree on things as fundamental as how many genders there are and which pronouns should be used when addressing others, it’s a glaring indication of trouble ahead. If the foundation is wobbly, the whole house is unstable. If we can’t reach a national consensus on who and what we are, how can we decide where to go from here?
A truly watershed election comes along every generation or so. One that not only elects a new leader but also defines an era and puts its indelible stamp on the American Identity.
2024 may be one such cycle …
WANNA SOUND OFF?
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