South Carolina is cruising, as they say, for a bruising. This state has been asking for it for a long time, and its most recent offense came on Jan. 21 in the Republican primary.
As a Democrat following the 2012 presidential election closely, I was happy to see that South Carolina voted overwhelmingly for Newt Gingrich, a candidate almost too easy for President Barack Obama to beat in the fall. I was not, however, surprised at the state’s gaffe. South Carolina has made a mess of almost every chance it has gotten, and this time South Carolinians’ logic proved nonexistent as it has so many times before.
Before I get into the absurdity of a blowout win for Newt, let me give some historical context to my view that South Carolina is nothing but trouble.
We begin in the heat of America’s finest hour: the American Revolution. At the outbreak of war, an estimated one-third of South Carolinians remained loyal to England. These loyalists caused considerable trouble for American forces. They aligned with the Cherokee tribe to fight with the British. In 1781, the governor, one John Rutledge, issued a pardon to a loyalist. These offenses, while in the distant past, still put my knickers in a twist.
It is now 1860, and Abraham Lincoln has just been elected. He’s a bro from Illinois. He doesn’t want war! He says he won’t abolish slavery anywhere that it exists. Seems pretty chill to me (if I didn’t mind slavery), but not to South Carolina. They promptly secede, becoming the first state in history to do so. Leading the charge is Yale’s beloved John C. Calhoun. The ’Houn, as some like to say, was on fire.
The first battle of the Civil War, at Fort Sumter in 1861, saw South Carolinians attempting to take over a federal military site by firing shots at Union troops stationed there.
Okay, so South Carolinians were little brats during the first two major wars in U.S. history. Who cares?
To this I would say that South Carolina has always been, and remains to be, the hotbed of racism in America.
South Carolina was the single largest slave trader of Native Americans in U.S. history. So much for that alliance with the Cherokee.
By 1860, South Carolina had more slaves than any state in the nation. Blacks, the overwhelming majority of whom were enslaved, outnumbered whites two to one.
Let’s move to some more contemporary offenses.
In South Carolina, the Confederate flag flies high on countless flagpoles. Those who defend this practice by saying it is part of Southern culture are lying to themselves. The Confederacy was formed for the purpose of seceding from the Union because those states could not part with their rights to own slaves. The flag flies in front of the Statehouse, and fewer than half of the candidates who have ever run for governor there have said that they would even consider removing it.
South Carolina’s bigotry does not stop at racism. In fact, the state was the second-to-last to ratify the 19th Amendment and give women the right to vote.
How about South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson, who infamously shouted, “You lie!” at Obama during a joint address to Congress? Wilson showed perhaps the most disrespectful and egregious display in the House chamber since Preston Brooks, another South Carolinian representative, beat Sen. Charles Sumner with a cane in the name of slavery.
Finally, the most recent display of stupidity, the one I began with, came just last weekend during the Republican primary in South Carolina.
I am not a fan of Mitt Romney, but I admit that he is, politically speaking, a good candidate for president. He has no personal baggage. He’s as handsome as they come. And he’s a talented orator. Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, is possibly the worst candidate for president in the Republican field.
From a purely political standpoint, Gingrich is laughable as a potential candidate. He had two divorces, both of which apparently resulted from his infidelity — this coming from the man who led the impeachment effort against Bill Clinton for adultery. This hypocrisy surely indicates flaws in Gingrich’s character.
In addition, Newt has a horrific record. He has been fined $300,000 for ethics violations while in office. And, if all that weren’t enough, he worked as a historian for the widely hated insurance company Freddie Mac. The company paid Gingrich $1.6 million. This is the same company that holds considerable responsibility for the subprime mortgages that lead to the financial crisis in 2008.
South Carolina, what’s going on down there? Are you guys okay?
Jack Schlossberg is a freshman in Trumbull College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.