The more things stay the same, the more they … change?
There hasn’t been much of a shift in the positioning of candidates at this early juncture of the 2024 presidential election, but there was some major motion this past week on the Republican primary calendar. We are referring to a pair of early “save the dates” which – should they hold – would propel South Carolina from its historic position of prominence to someplace even more pivotal for the GOP field.
Couple that with South Carolina’s new status (we think) on the Democratic presidential calendar and all of a sudden the state “too small for a republic, but too large for an insane asylum” could wind up determining the future trajectory of the free world.
A frightening thought, is it not?
In an effort to keep our fingers on the pulse of Palmetto politics, founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell produce this index each week – tracking all manner of rising and falling fortunes as well as the interplay of state and national politics in our early-voting home. Got a hot “stock tip” for our consideration? Email Will (here) and/ or Mark (here). Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.
Remember, however our weekly installment is simply an assessment of how listed 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 …”
Oh, and 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 …
Want to catch up on the index?
So who is riding high this week (and who is riding the struggle bus)? To the latest index!
The Great Bidenomics Road Show rolled into West Columbia, S.C. on Thursday. And the president who has taken the greatest sledgehammer to the U.S. economy since Herbert Hoover couldn’t resist taking a victory lap in the hopes of rebranding the disaster he has created. In a pre-scripted dog and pony act at Flex LTD, Joe Biden gave a typically pedantic lecture about how his fiscal sleight of hand schemes are somehow helping the nation’s bottom line – pausing only to finger-wag at all Republicans in Congress who dared vote against them.
So much for all that “unite us” talk from 2020 …
Stopping just short of pouring a bucket of Gatorade over his own head in triumph, you’ve got to at least give Biden credit for good timing. Because less than 24 hours later, the Labor Department announced June’s unemployment rate jumped from 3.4 percent to 3.7 percent. Garnish that with the fact that it was the lowest monthly job increase since 2020.
As TV’s Dr. Phil might put it, “How’s that Bidenomics working for you?”
Biden also struggled mightily this week with the fallout from “cocaine-gate,” the discovery of a suspicious bag of white power at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue last Sunday evening. Not only did this “dust-up” throw the limelight back on the president’s problem child, Hunter Biden (deservedly or not) – the defensive, discombobulated response from the administration gave the distinct impression Team Biden had something to hide.
Luckily for Biden, the mainstream media rode to his rescue by loudly proclaiming the presumably unsolvable nature of the crime – despite the fact it occurred in the most monitored area in the entire world. Talk about a definitional “move along, nothing to see here” moment.
‘FIRST IN THE SOUTH’
The South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) should send a giant fruit basket to its counterparts in Iowa. Because that state’s central committee just elevated our GOP presidential party into the fabled catbird seat. A glance at 2024’s calendar explains why.
Hawkeye State pachyderms picked Monday, January 15, 2024 to hold the 2024 Iowa caucuses – setting the whole GOP primary shebang in motion. The timing is highly significant — and couldn’t work to the Palmetto State’s advantage any better.
The mid-January date is three weeks sooner than it was in the 2016 and 2020 cycles. If New Hampshire’s secretary of state does as expected, the Granite State’s “First in the Nation” Republican primary will likely be scheduled for eight days later on Tuesday, January 23. And that point, things could get very interesting … very fast.
The 2024 “First in the South” primary is already booked for Saturday, February 24, 2024. That means South Carolina could very well have the national spotlight to itself for a full month. For better or worse, the national media would be swarming like army ants over every inch of our fair state – from the Upstate to the Lowcountry to the Midlands through the Pee Dee/ Grand Strand.
Then there’s the political dynamic. The Trump-DeSantis showdown could be in white hot mode just then. Or perhaps someone from the pack of GOP also-rans catches lightning in a bottle and emerges as a viable alternative to the two frontrunners.
You’ll want to keep a big bowl of popcorn on hand this winter regardless … because our primary now has the potential to be one they’ll be talking about for years to come. Oh, and speaking of DeSantis …
Wait, a presidential candidate’s spouse is listed here? You read that right. Florida first lady Casey DeSantis, mother of three, and College of Charleston alumna is doing much more than just dutifully nodding her head in agreement with her husband’s positions; She’s walking the walk by putting her support in action.
DeSantis launched ‘Mamas for DeSantis‘ on Thursday. Predictably, opposing candidates called it “desperation,” while the liberal/ progressive echo chamber (a.k.a. the mainstream media) condescendingly rolled its eyes.
We think they’re all overlooking the salient point: The Moms for Liberty group has repeatedly shown mothers who are organized and focused on a common goal are a serious force to be reckoned with – as evidenced by the growing list of defeated school board members around the country littered in its wake. No wonder the left is so focused on demonizing the group.
If DeSantis’ campaign can tap into that base and find common cause with the social forces that are driving it, ‘Mamas for DeSantis’ has the potential to be a serious player in the 2024 race. Pissed-off parents (including dads) are proving to be a potent force at the ballot box, as Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin can tell you.
Will that approach work for Team DeSantis? Time will tell. But speaking of moms and dads …
A growing number of parents have had enough of public classrooms being hijacked and transformed into intellectual Marxist indoctrination centers (paid for with your tax dollars, no less). Here in the Carolinas, a new effort is underway to replace Woke inculcation with basic education.
As this site reported last week, the North Carolina-based John Locke Foundation is teaming up with South Carolina’s Palmetto Promise Institute and the S.C. Policy Council to create the Carolina’s Academic Leadership Network (CALN).
CALN will assist school board members at the local level with practical how-to fundamentals for expunging child-warping ideologies (such as CRT and other divisive concepts) and replacing them with the fundamentals necessary for a solid education. The goal? Making sure future generations have the tools they need to succeed as opposed to being obedient little woke comrades.
The launch of this new effort comes on the heels of the collapse of the disastrous “Red For Ed” organization in South Carolina – which vainly sought to prop up those in-school indoctrination efforts behind a thin veneer of establishment-endorsed respectability.
Let the restoration of non-politically propelled learning begin!
A major opportunity is at hand for South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson, who is generally acknowledged as the frontrunner to become the Palmetto State’s next governor. Wilson has earned that position, too, including a starring role in the state’s ‘Trial of the Century’ – the case of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh.
There is one area where Wilson has disappointed us, however. As this media platform has reported for many months, our state is crying out for judicial reform – namely an end to the corrupt system in which powerful lawyer-legislators and judges conspire to put the interests of violent criminals ahead of public safety (and the rights of victims).
Our hopes were raised last winter when Wilson made this issue a priority. But they were quickly dashed when the reforms he backed amounted to little more than band-aids slapped on a hemorrhage.
Wilson has a chance this week to reclaim the high ground and lead the charge on this important issue. He’s hosting a panel discussion on it Monday in Charleston with ninth circuit solicitor Scarlett Wilson and Dr. Oran Smith of the aforementioned Palmetto Promise Institute. This event is the perfect opportunity to announce a call to action – one containing big, bold steps forward (especially on the issue of judicial selection).
And obviously spearheading such a push would cement Wilson’s standing at the top of the 2026 gubernatorial pack.
Will he seize the moment? We shall see …
“It’s not easy being green,” Kermit the Frog memorably sang on The Muppet Show. And in political terms, it’s not easy being Nikki Haley, either.
South Carolina’s former governor (and bottom tier 2024 presidential hopeful) is catching increasing flak lately for something she first said several months ago. Specifically, Haley wants to change entitlement programs for younger generations of Americans – which would inevitably mean potential cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Other GOP candidates have expressed similar views, but Haley has been the most vocal about it. And that’s why it’s not easy being Nikki Haley. While this media platform has championed even more aggressive entitlement reforms, sound policy does not necessarily translate into smart politics.
This is especially true when you consider the Republican primary voting base. Many are in the age group where Social Security and Medicare are not abstract programs – but rather concrete realities which play an essential role in their lives. Accordingly, they cringe whenever the word “cuts” enters the conversation in any way, shape, or form.
The late House Speaker Tip O’Neill said 40 years ago, “Social Security is the third rail in American politics; touch it, and you’re dead.” Nikki Haley is learning the hard way that what was true in the 1980s still holds true today.
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