I live in an Upstate South Carolina area that is so republican-bound that the party could run a Pomeranian and get it elected as long as he or she barked to the right. The Democrats, reluctant (well, terrified) to utter a peep of opposition in public and in most private places as well, still follow the lead of a one-time female congressperson whose idea of opposition is to treat Republicans like best buds and get herself elected to the presidency of the local Rotary Club.
Ergo, a grand total of two brave Democratic souls (excluding a couple of incumbents) have offered themselves up for office for the next general election, November 6th. One is a clone of the lady I just mentioned though presumably lacking the goal of being president of any service club that I know of and the other is an African-American graduate of Johns Hopkins, who, as you can imagine, already has two strikes against him in South Carolina. Both fine people. Both all but invisible. Both facing 70%-30% defeats in their respective races. 7 of 8 House Republicans are returning to the state capital with no Democratic opposition.
So what’s a party of such dominance to do? Their candidates can turn into petrified wood when it comes to campaigning and still prevail by double digits. Why bother? I did wonder what the party was selling so I decided to take a ride to their headquarters located at the far end of a well-manicured little strip mall. I wandered the relatively small public space in search of candidate literature and anything else I could find reflecting the extreme states’-rights product being peddled to the locals.
I had been told that the selection of campaign materials had been pretty well picked over and indeed that was the case. There were a couple of bumpers stickers available with “Trey Gowdy congress” printed on them. They were actually cheesy and cheap; egg-shaped, small; 4 X 7, and looked like an elementary school crafts product. But why spend for fancy when most of your million-dollar booty is directed to other campaigns anyway. The faaaar right-winger and incumbent state rep running against the Johns Hopkins democrat had a stack of garish yellow bumper stickers visible by satellite. The guy’s name is Bright. Clever!
Jane Hall, currently serving as a County Councilperson was represented by some overly wordy palm cards with her picture on one side and a picture of “Mickey and Jane Hall” on the other. The piece looked earnest, but cluttered, with not a union bug in sight. She’s apparently going to be running against Steve Collins, a tea party favorite. I say apparently because Collins, due to a filing snafu, wasn’t on the primary ballot and has to get enough petition signatures to make the general.
There was also an available copy of a 14-page newspaper, The Times Examiner, “Independent Conservative Voice of the Palmetto State.” It was dated June 6, 2012. It’s lead story featured the tired retread of all those Democratic commies in congress; the assertion of Florida Congressman Allen West. And, by God, West names those pinko bastards (and bitches). They’re all apparently members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; progressive being synonymous with communist as any wing-nut will tell you.
How do we know these progressives are communists? West spells it out. How he found out, I’ll never know. A congressional communist can be readily recognized because – The CPC advocates “universal access to affordable health care, living wage laws, the rights for labor to organize labor unions and engage in collective bargaining, legalization of same-sex marriage, US participation in international treaties such as the climate change Kyoto Accords, strict finance reform laws, a crackdown on corporate welfare and influence – well, you get the idea. The article emphasizes that none of the CPC members come from South Carolina. Hey, I could have told you that! Page 2 lists the names and states of all the members.
The rest of the paper is a predictably propagandizing piece of shit.
What I found really interesting was the influence of FreedomWorks within this humble Deep South Republican Party headquarters. We stew about what the superPACs are contributing to right-wing candidates, how about all of the other mischief their money goes for? FreedomWorks is one of those laughable non-profits that bring in and send out multiple millions, even billions over time to right-wing political causes. Its current head is former House Majority leader, Dick Armey (there was a falling out with early co-leader, David Koch). In the South Carolina republican headquarters you could pick up very expensive four-fold glossy handouts and even larger two-sided pieces; just as glossy, just as expensive. The two-sided version was pushing the Tea Party and giving sites where Republicans could get involved in “the movement” by connecting with activists, forming groups, promoting events and TAKING AMERICA BACK! From who? The black president?
The four-folder is another propaganda piece, mostly fishing for contribution to FreedomWorks. To make this destructive partisan organization seem more fuzzy and youthful, a quote from a two-year-old New York Times piece is featured; “They model Freedom Works on the Grateful Dead or Virgin Atlantic Airways; they want to build a like-minded community, an endeavor that is as much fun as work.” Awww- how cutesy! I’m thinking Virgin Atlantic majority owner Richard Branson would be mortified and genuinely pissed to know his company’s name was being included in a FreedomWorks handout.
Among his many progressive endeavors, Branson is part of a group called “The Elders”, founded by Nelson Mandela. Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter are other recognizable members. Their mission is to bring peace to long-standing conflicts, take new approaches to issues causing immense human suffering and connect voices all over the world. The diametric opposite of Armey’s goals that are concentrated on money and big business.
Wonder why the handout didn’t repeat the Times reporting that each new employee is handed a copy of Saul Alinsky’s book “Rules for Radicals.” Read no doubt by the same bunch that excoriated the president for his purported admiration for Alinsky’s organizational skills.
FreedomWorks also has lots of pieces pushing school choice.
I’m glad I went. The visit served as a timely reminder that there’s an incredible amount of work to do before November 6th.