Up Close And Personal: Why Democrats Keep Losing The South


Southern Republican candidates have nothing to fear from the Southern Democratic electorate if my recent, highly distasteful experience, is a harbinger of things to come. If you’re new to PoliticusUSA, I’m a contributor of some 425 submissions or so, a pretty old guy and an activist Democrat.

I’m Anchorman Howard Beale, from the 1976 ‘Network’ movie, urging viewers to lean out their windows and scream, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Problem is, with an almost universal lack of local party support, I guess I am going to have to sit back and take it some more; lots more.

In fact, I just got hell from a room full of Democrats for challenging a Republican state legislator’s record. Here’s how it came down. Our County Democratic Party Chairman invited local District 36 State Representative, Marita “Rita” Allison, to speak at our ongoing second Monday of the month Democratic luncheon. Rita’s a likable lady. She’s been active in helping out with beauty pageants for decades. She’s a great retail politician who also has some positives in her voting record, especially in the areas of domestic violence and child abuse.

The remainder of her record is largely abominable.

Representative Allison is a veteran of years in the House and is sadly the new Chair of the House Education and Pubic Works Committee. She gave a good speech, rightfully focused on education and roads as befitting her new leadership role. To hear her talk, you would think it was Elizabeth Warren at the podium. Just as moderate as could possibly be. Just as Democrat as could possibly be. Then came the après-speech Q & A.

Prior to the start of the luncheon, I had asked the Representative if she minded some ‘tough’ questions. She allowed as she did not. I reiterated that the questions would indeed be tough. At the end of her speech, she even mentioned that a ‘young man’ had warned her that he might ask some tough questions, so fire away. One of the few attendees with the courage of his convictions, did indeed, fire away with some thoughtful fuel tax questions to cover the expenses involved in desperately needed state road repair. The pair went back and forth, and a voice or two was raised in a political exchange without rancor, but a spirited one to be sure.

Subsequent questions all seemed to be coming from the opposite side of the room from my locale. I looked at the Party Chairman and he nodded in understanding that I would get my chance. I did.

I praised Rita for the positives that I wrote of earlier and congratulated her on making sure over the years that the nation realized that South Carolina had the “Purttiest girls.” I then made reference to our earlier conversation about tough questions and told the Representative and my fellow Democrats that “Here they come.”

I cited Allison’s record of bill sponsorship that included either sponsoring or co-sponsoring such legislation as opposition to same-sex marriage, tax credits for those sending their children to private, often religious, specialized “Exceptional Needs” schools. Not only taking money from public schools, but building a back-door entree into privatization of all the public schools the for-profit education industry could get their hands on. The American Legislative Exchange Council has pushed the bill for years. The name of the ALEC bill is “The Special Needs Scholarship Program Act.” The name of the South Carolina bill, H4021, is “Special Needs Scholarship Program.” Look up the ALEC model legislation. Compare it to H4021. Not a nickel’s worth of difference.

Rita wants to get rid of the President’s health care plan in its entirety with a strong sponsorship of H3101, a bill that would do exactly that. Those trying to enforce the plan could face criminal charges. She further gilded her tarnished “let the poor die” lily by co-sponsoring H3355, legislation that would block the expansion of Medicaid. A Harvard study estimates an additional 1,000 annual statewide deaths at a minimum as a result. Prior to that heartless gesture, she sponsored the 2011 Voter ID Act, H3003, a bill so discriminatory that the Department of Justice kicked it back for a do-over. The bill is also based on ALEC model legislation.

In a later development, she voted her love for the house version of S836, a bill enacted to create the nation’s first Interstate Healthcare Compact in conjunction with eight other states. The bill has but one purpose; destroy Barack Obama’s health care effort.

There was an additional stack of distasteful and hurtful legislation, but I only had so much time. I asked Allison to explain her attendance at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice event as filed with the South Carolina Ethics Commission, 3/13/2014. The Foundation was founded by the late, and much discredited free market, supply-side economist, Milton Friedman. The person in charge of the legislator contacts was once a Policy Manger at ALEC and graduated from the Charles Koch Institute’s Koch Associate Program.

The representative vehemently denied attending any Friedman event. I responded that I found it in Ethic’s Commission records. “Then I’ll have to get that corrected.” Later, after the meeting had broken up, she said I should find the record of the meeting and email it to her. Knowing the particulars, I scribbled down the contents from the Ethic’s page, noted the filing date, the Friedman name and the $604.68 gift of food and lodging. “Oh, maybe I did attend something in Charlotte. I just don’t remember.”

Before the meeting, she had denied in a conversation with the Chairman of the party that she had ever been a member of ALEC. The Chairman and I then had a conversation where he sounded a bit skeptical of my information. At the meeting, she admitted that she had paid dues to ALEC, but supposedly never participated in any functions.

Had I had time at the luncheon, I would have pointed out that Allison earned roughly a quarter of a million dollars as Communications Director of the Commission on Higher Education, most of the money coming while serving in the house (another 20 grand or so).

But, what was really galling was the reaction of my colleagues as I continued to civilly grill our representative. They literally started yelling at me. I was taking too much time and I was encouraged, not too subtly, to shut up. They cared not one wit about the issues. Blacks joined in the chorus, extraordinary, given the irreparable harm to the minority community from Allison votes. Later, one of our local State Senators, Glenn Reese, bowed and scraped before Allison, in telling the crowd how great she was for the area. Reese, popular Krispy Kreme shop owner, has served in the senate since ’91. Keep those right-wing tax deciders happy.

I’ll admit that time constraints had me talking marginally longer than I should have, but, frankly, with one exception, I’m the only one that had done any Allison homework and these questions needed to be answered. They weren’t, as Allison simply refused to comment on any of her repulsive votes.

Down South, you’re not allowed to ask Republican office holders any challenging questions.

30 Replies to “Up Close And Personal: Why Democrats Keep Losing The South”

  1. That is why I think we should encourage all republicans to move to the states of the old south and all the democrats to leave. Let the ignorant old fools just rot away down there and all the intelligent people move to places with more water and a better class of people.

  2. As somebody who lives “Down South” (Texas, though anybody in the Old South doesn’t actually consider us Southern) I give a beautiful “Screw you” to you.

    A lot of things contribute to the Republican dominance here, worst of all the horrible voter turnout because of that perceived total dominance.

    So don’t count us out when we’re fighting an uphill battle. I mean, if you’re supposedly “intelligent” you’d know of the voter suppression and gerrymandering in numerous states that stacked the odds in the GOP’s favor.

  3. And some of the best cooks at Mcdonald’s are black & female, Columbia, South Carolina. I know, this is off topic, but so,so true. Thanks ladies, I’ll never forget what a pleasure it was. Sorry folks, just brought back memories of an exceptional visit one morning on I-20. By the way, these ladies deserved a raise and I hope they got it.

  4. The obvious question is
    Why the responsibility
    That is necessary for a
    Quality of life for the
    Poor & those who live
    On MinWage,the daily
    struggle leaves little
    time or energy to make
    the change needed,in a
    slow & difficult,at the
    very least,hope doesn’t
    seem to be enough.

  5. The key may be that no one had done their homework on Allison. I don’t understand why people are so lazy when it comes to their own best interest and livelihood. Unfortunately, ignorance and laziness doesn’t live only in the South…

  6. Down south, slavery is physically over but mentally the same mindset of the master and slave still persist whether consciously or unconsciously and it continues to be passed down from generation to generation. White Power and Black Fear, Republicon paradise.

  7. Wow. This is one of the most depressing things I know… a “social support system” that sucks the life out of you.
    A happily static peer group. Where what’s most important is adhering to a blinkered sense of harmony. Of course they’re not going to like hard questions… it’s too disruptive. Which is a cardinal sin.

    Making you feel like a doofus, a dreamer, or just someone who’s spoiling everybody’s fun. Giving you the unspoken message that activism only stresses you out, so the healthy thing to do is stop being an activist. Stop creating problems, stop being a victim. Stop all that overthinking already! You’ll be happier, and you’ll make more friends if you just quit rocking the boat… like us!

    Nobody who thinks like this is ever going to change society for the better. When being comfortable is THE most important thing in the world, the idea that there’s more to life is not even on your radar.

  8. Citizens here in NC are caught up a repug version of
    Sharknado. Public assistance and education programs
    robbed to offset tax relief for the wealthy. People who
    resist neocon dominance get trampled at poll time by
    all the fux fiends determined to dial us back to their idea
    of an antibellum paradise. The 2012 election nearly tore
    our state a new one when Obama was re-elected. Haters
    demanded secession from the union just like it was 1860
    all over again. Sometimes I think Ron White’s spot on
    when he says ya can’t fix stupid.

  9. I, too, live in the South. It’s my home, although I grew up in California. Now that I’m retired, I’m pretty much “stuck” here. And, for the life of me I will never figure out what is wrong with most of the people here. I remember when the south was solidily Democratic, then came Johnson and the Civil Rights Act. He said “we’ll lose the south for a generation.” Guess he was right. Most people don’t want and are afraid of change. They are comfortable in their misery. Churches have convinced them that they don’t deserve anything better in this life. It’s sad, really. My friends are better educated than most but they are still stuck in the same old patterns of thinking. They have their heads stuck in the sand and just don’t want to hear anything new and/or different. Denial is a wonderful thing, if you’re an ostrich. It’s so frustrating for me I want to scream.

  10. I take the fact that Democrats are not popular in the south as a compliment. I for one do not want the south to sully or corrupt the Democratic party or agenda as has been the case with the Republican/Conservative brand. Religion and ignorance both being dependent on the other has yet to infect the left wing and THAT is why we on the left are always correct…not right.

  11. You can blame the weak Democratic Party too. They’ve given up. I ran for my State Representative, and the Local and National Democratic party wanted to invest no time or money because this area is a “lost cause”. The Dems need to find some strength in conviction soon because no matter how unethical and even repugnant the Reps are getting, their conviction is winning them elections. If the Dems didnt want the special money they would have conviction. The Reps just want the money and made up the conviction around that. Now is the time to be strong.
    I have no expectations that this will change, sigh.

  12. The South is still beholden to the notion that the Confederate Flag is a flag of honorable rebellion as opposed to the reality of it being one of a racist sedition.

    Folks would rather die than admit to being wrong. Perhaps it is time to demand that the south secede- after all when you have a cancer, you cut it out.

  13. I just realized something, related to what you just said about churches:
    People who have learned to be comfortable with misery turn to the church, because they no longer believe a better Earth is possible. They have been so completely convinced of their inability to have any positive effect on their own lives, that they’ve long since shrugged and said, “can’t do anything about this world, might as well focus on the next.”

    And this process of surrendering our power happens a lot more through nice, everyday social interactions; than through bullying. How often do you hear this from your friends: “You can’t change the world, you can only change yourself”? I bet you hear that a LOT more in conservative areas.

  14. The majority of people in the South are beholden to that notion because it’s always been their goal to turn the United States of America into the Confederate States of America – and the fact that they use the Confederate BATTLE flag as opposed to the official flag of the confederacy is proof of that notion.

    They are, in essence, still fighting “the Northerners” and will remain so until the rest of the States either kick their behinds out of the Union or they actually do become victorious. Until such time, we need to accept that they just refuse to change and will continue to be useful fools for billionaires like the Koch Bros.

  15. I wonder if it’s the lingering stink of the threat of what, historically, happened if you did not “get along” with your neighbors – stinkeye at church, a burning cross on the lawn, police harassment, torture and hanging if you were black.

    I.e., it could still happen. So suck it up and be nice.

    Cheers me up, actually, to realize that those proud southern rebels are actually a pack of craven pot-lickin’ dogs.

  16. It seems the Southerners are shallow uncaring people when it comes to helping the poor climb out of their miserable lives. Many of the Democrats in the south are not truly Democrats just what’s left over of the Dixiecrats that didn’t jump parties.

    If Darwin ever did a study of many of the Southern Democrats (not all) they would be comparable to the gorillas who never evolved.

  17. Unfortunately, if Southern Dems are shallow and uncaring, I say that’s an adaptation they’ve done to try to survive.

    And that is why we really need minority points of view protected. Not merely so they’ll avoid abuse, but so they’ll avoid natural selection… having to copy cat the majority to survive and effectively eliminating alternative ways of living.

  18. I’m also ā€œ.. mad as hell, and Iā€™m not going to take this anymore!ā€ That’s why I’m running against Hillary and the current establishment. Please help me get elected. We need an honest and transparent person elected as president. Hillary is neither of these. A southerner would be nice also.

    Lee Newton Rhodes, CPA
    Born in Georgia and Proud of it!
    Georgia State University, BBA 1979
    Democratic Candidate for President
    FEC # C00574707

  19. Brown v. the Board of Education. The South threw all its children away, rather than educate Blacks and the poor. The fear of the educated ‘Other’ drove them to cultural suicide.

    As a result of underfunding education, we are a nation of peasants – ignorant, superstitious and ripe for exploitation.

    Hate has consequences.

  20. ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
    William Faulkner

    In the South, they want the time to stop and they want to go back to that hateful system. Some places are down right scary,
    and some hatred has been buried down deep, but is ready to jump out without much warning.

  21. They don’t allow unless you have a product but good idea. Let just agree on a few things. I’m more honest than Hillary. I’m more transparent than Hillary. I’m more of a regular down to earth person. I don’t have a lot of money. That’s why I cannot afford to campaign and pay people to help me get elected. I’m running my campaign on a volunteer and word-of-mouth basis. I agree that you don’t know much about me but what you do know about Hillary, do you like? So can we agree that an unknown might be better that what you do know. If I do get anywhere you will get to know a lot about me. Any useful suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Have a great day and thanks for not ignoring my comment.

  22. What are your policies concerning the Palestinian question
    What are your policies concerning China and the tensions over the Spratly Islands?
    Do you support normalizing relations with Iran?
    What are your thoughts on income inequality?
    Do you think the ACA should be improved so every American has access the healthcare?
    Would you support a National plan to provide college or technical training for all Americans free of charge?
    Do you support clean energy?
    With the drought what are your plans for water usage?
    The floor is yours

  23. People who are non-rich and vote repub are brainwashed & propagandized going back 30+ years. A RWer from Tennessee said in the south the Dem Party is black. I live in Michigan and couldn’t believe it. How sad. The south is holding us back as usual.

  24. Keep fighting the good fight. Sometimes we have to rock the boat when it’s necessary. If you are on the correct side of history, you have nothing to fear.

  25. djchefron

    Your questions are fair enough. I’m drafting a policy statement which will give you an idea on some of my positions. I’ll include your concerns.
    As an aside, as of now no other democrat is running against Hillary. I’m sure you understand that this means if you choose not to vote in the primary it’s the same as voting for Hillary. So the only way Hillary gets defeated in the primary is to vote for me, an unknown so far. With your help and others I hope to make a coherent and strong argument why the country deserves an honest, transparent, and civil candidate to represent the democrats and hopefully take back the White House from those currently in control. Hillary keeps saying the deck is stacked by those in control. That does include her. She is out there raising money to run her campaign even though she personally has more money than her campaign needs. Money from people much less fortunate than herself. A little irony here I think. I’m out of space but I’ll get ba…

  26. How about more Democrats move south and subsequently dilute their voting power! I am a Democrat and love it here.

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