The image of Depression-era tent cities may have long-left the cultural landscape, but supporters of the federal economic stimulus package will be pitching tents across the street from the governor’s mansion on Tuesday as Gov. Mark Sanford continues to stonewall on roughly $700 million in aid to South Carolina schools and other programs.
Tent cities were makeshift shelters that gained prominence in the Great Depression as the nation’s unemployed became the nation’s homeless. A popular nickname for these communities was Hooverville, after embattled President Herbert Hoover. The animosity was also immortalized in the number “We’d Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover” in Annie The Musical.
Sanfordville likely won’t be filled with such desperate souls, but is expected to draw voters frustrated that Sanford has continued to refuse the federal money. Sanford has argued it will be too costly to pay back the debt. Opponents from both parties say that debt will have to be paid by South Carolinians, whether the money is spent here or in the other 49 states.
Democratic strategist Lachlan McIntosh, one of the organizers of the event, expects several dozen tents to be pitched in Finlay Park on Tuesday. Turnout may well exceed expectations considering the hundreds that turned out last week for protests around the state, including one at the Statehouse.
“And it’s not just the people who regularly show up at protests,” McIntosh says, noting the crowds have included a broad swath of S.C. residents.
The “Tent City” Protest will be from 10 a.m. to midnight April 7 at Finlay Park, 930 Laurel St. in Columbia. Register at the event’s Facebook page. There are currently no plans for “We’d Like to Thank You Mark Sanford,” but we’re sure that some inventive statesman is already working on the lyrics. —Greg Hambrick