Pop quiz: Who are the Democrats running for the U.S. Senate seats currently held by Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott? And it doesn't matter if it's official or if it's just a guy or gal testing the waters.
Nah, it's OK. Take your time. Think long and hard.
Yes, you can call a friend. Hell, you can even do a google search on your hand machine. Go for it.
OK, answer time. Whatcha got?
I need an answer.
Right here, right now.
Because honestly, I really don't know. And if you don't know, then that means that my suspicions have been confirmed: the S.C. Democratic Party once again intends to offer up a sacrificial lamb in both of these two races.
You know the type I'm talking about, old goats like Vic Rawl or Bobbie Rose or Alex Sanders, folks who not only have little chance of winning but have no chance of building a base of support on which they can fashion a future successful bid for office.
Now, I know, the filing date has yet to arrive — and thanks to my more politically tuned-in colleagues at the City Paper, I've been reminded that Jay Stamper
is running against Lindsey, although that may be some sort of elaborate prank — but so far, no serious Democratic Party contenders have decided to openly oppose Scott (MSNBC reports that Rick Wade
, a former Commerce Department official and consultant, just may. Like Scott, Wade is black.) That said, none of this has prevented the S.C. Democratic Party from acting as if Scott and Graham will be defeated on Election Day.
Yesterday, our very own Tim Scott appeared on CNN's "Crossfire," and on the show he refused to endorse his fellow senator, Lindsey Graham, in his bid for re-election. While Scott's answer was a buffoonish amateur-hour dodge — he even cracked a goofy, you-caught-me-picking-my-nose-while-driving laugh — it wasn't entirely unexpected.
Lindsey Graham is a party leper, a case of the clap, a MRSA infection, and no one in Palmetto State politics wants to catch what he has. That said, Scott's answer was gutless, but I would expect nothing less from a go-along-to-get-along guy like Handsome Tim. He was picked for his affable malleability after all. Whatever the Jim DeMint wing of the GOP wants, Tim Scott'll do, and he'll do it with a smile.
The S.C. Democratic Party, of course, couldn't resist going on the attack. In a press release, the party says:
The Republican Party infighting continued tonight as Sen. Tim Scott followed in the right-wing footsteps of his mentor, Tea Party Gov. Nikki Haley, and refused to endorse South Carolina’s senior Sen. Lindsey Graham for re-election.
Haley and Scott have consistently taken sides against common sense and pragmatism to follow the extreme political agenda. Now they both have also refused to support one of the few federal elected officials in South Carolina who actually works to try to get things done to help our state’s families and businesses instead of forcing a government shutdown.
Nikki Haley and Tim Scott keep moving further and further right of South Carolina’s voters in order to toe the extremist Tea Party line. We’ve seen how that’s worked out for other Republicans around the country in recent elections … and as they keep it up, they’re on course to see the same results as the other extremists next Election Day: a loss.
Well, except they're not. Haley and Scott are pretty much shoo-ins, despite the governor's increasingly heavy baggage and the senator's complete and utter lack of substance. And the reason isn't quite as cut and dried as it seems.
Yes, Haley's opponent Vincent Sheheen has all the star power of a substance-abuse starlet huddled around the toilet three days into a cold-turkey treatment. Yes, Tim Scott is a patronus charm against all accusations of racism in the SCGOP. Yes, South Carolina is a deeply red state. There's no question there. But the Democratic Party in South Carolina seems to be more preoccupied with slinging mud on Twitter and firing off email missives than with building a party of winning candidates.
Even worse, they've seemingly mistaken connecting with political junkies on social media and one-upping Republicans in a game of your-momma than with connecting with voters who aren't currently part of the party base — or who view all politics as sport, this writer included. Except for gerrymandered districts at the state level and one lone district at the federal level — Jim Clyburn's heavily gerrymandered Gorbachevian blue birthmark — the S.C. Dems can't compete at the state level — at least not yet.
While my-team vs. your-team politics plays at the national level — much to the detriment of our fair republic — in South Carolina the Democrats can't afford to engage in such petty and non-productive mud slinging. They have to stop trying to convince the Republican masses — a scampering parade of blindingly white, witlessly blind mice running away from a block of maze cheese and into a dead end filled with mouse droppings — that the GOP is filled with grand ole assholes and idiots. This accomplishes nothing more than angering Republican voters who are apparently smart enough to realize that the Democratic Party just, you know, called them assholes and idiots and blind shit-eating mice.
The point here is S.C. Democrats have to give current Republicans a positive reason to vote for the Democratic Party. They have to offer easily digestible plans and a clear vision that doesn't adhere to the national party's platform, but at the same time doesn't betray it (Sorry, all civil rights issues are non-negotiable, but there is plenty of wiggle room when it comes to nearly all other affairs).
If the leadership at the state Democratic Party was truly playing a long-term game instead of a day-to-day soundbite war, they'd concentrate on fielding strong, young candidates in non-partisan municipal elections and let them grow as leaders. If they're successful in serving the public — and they win the adoration of their constituents — then it'll be easier for diehard Republicans to ignore that dreaded D beside the candidate's name when they finally run for state office.
But as it is right now, that D doesn't stand for Democrat. It stands for Doomed.