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Primaries Leave S.C. Unchanged
3/2/2016 2:30:30 PM

By Barney Blakeney

I heard a radio commercial over the past couple of weeks leading up to the Feb, 27 Democratic Party primary in South Carolina that featured Charleston Rep. Wendell Gilliard advocating for Bernie Sanders. “South Carolina’s usually first in whatever’s last and last in whatever’s first,” he began the commercial. Well the Republican and Democratic primaries are over, and if the results are any indication, Gilliard’s declaration continues to hold true.

I was unsure in which party I would vote. I consider myself an independent voter so I was looking at factors other than party affiliation. I wasn’t impressed with any of the candidates, but I tend to look for perfection. Have yet to find it in anything, but I keep looking. Both parties had at least one candidate I felt I could support - Carson among the Republicans and Sanders among the Democrats. Turns out the candidates whom I’m most reticent about won their respective elections.

I got up Feb. 20 thinking there were several good reasons for me to vote in the Republican primary. You can only vote in one primary election in South Carolina so I had to make up my mind. I had a lot to do so my intent was to slip into the polls at some point during the day. Inadvertently, I was wearing a vote for Bernie t-shirt and didn’t know if that would go over real well at the polls during the Republican primary election.

I thought it was important Donald Trump be defeated, so I considered mine really a protest vote. I previously read about a survey that suggested 70 percent of likely Trump supporters believe the Confederate Flag still should be flying at the S.C. Statehouse. Some wish the South had won the Civil War. Eighty percent supports Trump’s banning of Muslims and nearly one-third thought interment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a good thing. The success of Donald Trump’s candidacy is a scary thing.

The Republican primary election brought out a record number of voters and Trump won the election based on receiving the majority most votes. About 750,000 voters cast ballots in the election. Trump got about 250,000 votes and the other five Republican candidates split the rest with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz each getting about 170,000 votes.

Most rational thinking people consider Trump a loose cannon who is a few eggs short of a dozen. Yet that guy got the lion’s share of votes in the Republican primary. What are South Carolina voters thinking? Since the ‘cum by yah’ moments after the June 17, 2015 massacre at Emmanuel AME Church, beyond removing the Confederate Flag from the statehouse grounds South Carolina hasn’t shown much in the way of creating a more progressive course for its future in race relations. Trump’s triumph indicates some folks are hunkering down and entrenching themselves in the racism that has characterized the state in the past.

When it comes to Democrats, it seems we’re reliving the same recurring bad dream. Okay, I know the precedent was set way back in the beginning of the presidency when John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams became presidents, but what is this thing about the office being handed down through families? We had the Bush boys and we know how that worked out. What makes us think that a Clinton legacy will prove any better?

I was interviewed Feb. 27 by a reporter who asked why South Carolina’s Black voters so overwhelmingly support Clinton. He asked if it was because of some sentimental affection for the Clintons, Bill Clinton’s proficiency in playing the saxophone or a belief that Clinton has the best chance of winning the White House in November. A woman at the grocery store said she’s supporting Clinton to elect the nation’s first female president.

I guess it’s a combination of all of the above. Most of all however, I think Clinton is the better choice between the lesser of the evils. As I contemplate this presidential election, I think that’s where it’s headed - a choice between the lesser of the evils.

I’m disappointed that my Republican brothers and sisters still are so psychotic they can’t see beyond the racist ideology that perpetuates Trump’s political success. But I’m even more disappointed that Black Democrats still have not forged a position of respect within the party that enables them to demand concessions rather than accept platitudes and promises.

The primary candidates will move on to other political battle grounds, but I can’t help feeling that South Carolina, despite the glitz and fanfare we saw in the weeks preceding the primary elections, is left much the same as before - first in all that’s last and last in all that’s first.

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