“South Carolina is too small for a republic, but too large for an insane asylum” AND too red and nutty to hold the first blue primary in 2024.
The former was pronounced in 1860 by James Petigru, South Carolina jurist and Attorney General, when his state became the first to secede and hasten commencement of the Civil War. The latter is our opinion, as we count the ways and macheté the straws erected to support President Biden’s foolish recommendation that South Carolina go first in 2024.
What exactly other than Jim Clyburn and the massive gratitude Biden owes him for stopping Biden’s 2020 primary free fall, does South Carolina possess that qualifies it? And though it need not, it will be said that it is looney to continue beginning the “primaries” in Iowa and New Hampshire, so unrepresentative of the Democratic Party’s present, recent past and foreseeable future.
On the negative and nutty side, South Carolina’s most important Antebellum figure was John C. Calhoun – the most ardent and effective defender of slavery and de juré state sedition. Calhoun was the true architect of the war – though he didn’t live to see the fruits of his life’s work, dying in 1850. After Calhoun’s death, his spirit and influence lived on in South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks, who in 1856 brutally caned Senator Charles Sumner on the Senate floor because Sumner had given a speech criticizing slavery and its congressional defenders. Post-war it lived on in South Carolina’s Black Code, one of the two worst legislative measures enacted to perpetuate the economic and social subjugation of black people. It continued in the 20th Century, headlined by the racist Dixiecrat third party and presidential campaign of 1948, headed by South Carolina Governor and later eternal U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond – who served in the upper house 48 years – performed the Guinness record filibuster against the 1957 civil rights bill and retired in his 101st year.
And in this century, it was vintage South Carolinian for U.S. Representative Joe Wilson to scream “you lie” at President Obama as he addressed Congress in 2009 about the proposed Affordable Care Act.
Today, though there is fierce competition to be the vilest, most dangerous and most hypocritical Republican Senator – in the era of Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton – South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham gets the nod. He cinched the victory with his interstate effort to get Georgia’s election officials to nullify the will of the people and with his tearful support for Herschel Walker on Sean Hannity’s TV show.
We now move to the positive side, involving real attributes that warrant a state going first, and agreeing that it should be a southern state, aiding the Democratic Party’s attempt to regain competitiveness if not control in the South. Giving the first primary to a state with a large Black population is also a good idea, given the importance of Black support for Democratic candidates – though hardly a reward for this last cycle, when Black (and Hispanic) voters stayed home. 2022 voter turnout was roughly 80% of 2020 turnout for white voters but roughly 50% for Black and Hispanic voters.
South Carolina has neither the greatest number nor percentage of Black population among Southern States. It ranks only 8th in Black population in the south and only 5th by percentage. And in the states ahead of South Carolina in those metrics, the leading states have far more than South Carolina’s trace element of high elective officials. South Carolina has a big one, Clyburn, but just one, and he is 82 years old and just relinquished his leadership position in the House. Interested readers can discover by themselves all the high elected Democratic officials in Virginia, North Carolina and even in the Texas and Florida hearts of darkness. But let’s focus on the state that obviously should/must go first. One that is not only “on my mind” but yours as well: Georgia: the red state that delivered Senate control to the Democrats twice in two years – with that crucial goal clearly on the line. Georgia, that elected its first African-American and Jewish Senators the same day. Georgia, that defeated Trump by those 11,780 votes and has Republican electeds who protected that Biden victory against threats and intimidation from a President and his co-conspiring seditionists. A state which had one of the most successful voter registration campaigns in American history, led by Stacey Abrams. And though, as noted, there should be several other states before South Carolina in the contest for who goes first, in any calm and rational assessment of Peach v. Palmetto; Georgia wins. And it’s not close.