Last night, there was a candidate's forum at Johns Island Library. The two incumbents, Tim Scott and Mark Sanford, refused the invitation to appear. That left candidate for US Senate, Thomas Dixon, and candidate for House of Representatives, Dimitry Cherny.
Republican incumbents have a lot of power in this state. We may be hearing a lot of trash talk about Hillary not meeting the press, but here in SC, republicans in office won't do anything that will shake up their cushy offices. Take questions from the people? Debate their opponents? Actually allow us to hold them accountable, like for the worst Congress ever?
And they get a lot of help in staying in the shadows.
SCETV has refused to hold debates this season, claiming that the seats are not hotly enough contested. Gee, that's an odd spin on democracy, isn't it? Don't give the opposing party coverage and then claim it was because not enough people were interested. Well, the "compromise" SCETV reached after receiving petitions with nearly 1,000 signatures, was that the Democrats could choose to appear on the weekly Palmetto Scene. Some concession, right?
So folks like Sanford and Scott can go on making public appearances in the name of their offices, on the public dime, and with as much media coverage as they like. Good luck getting any of the local TV stations to mention upcoming events, or past events, that involve a Democratic challenger.
What's to do? For one, the SC Democratic Party, should not be acting like what it got for its candidates is a compromise. It is merely a bone tossed to 1,000 hungry dogs.
Jim Clyburn is running for re-election. We all know Jim Clyburn. He has indeed in his long tenure done great things for the state and the nation. But he has become fairly complacent. It is unlikely that he will return an email, but his staff has become my de facto pen pal, sending me annoying emails that begin by addressing me by my first name, as though we are indeed buddies. If they don't outright begin by asking for money, they ask stupid questions like: "Hillary or Trump?" as a ruse for then asking for money.
We need Clyburn to get the hell out here and start stumping for our candidates. We need his staff to alert the news media that he will be here with insert terrific candidate's name here. He may like being a honcho in the House, but we need for him to have some good Democrats in there with him.
And the sad thing is that this year is about as close as we are going to get. People are fed up by an obstructive Congress, but they don't know why. They don't know that Tim Scott talks about how he is going to help us all and then votes against a living wage, extending unemployment, raising social security, making health care accessible. Mark Sanford is the weasel who never actually takes a stand that isn't convoluted (He doesn't like the outrageous things Donald Trump has said, but he will vote for him if he shows his tax return.). He shows up for public meetings and pretends that he supports whatever will be good for the community, and then goes back to Washington and votes for lowering taxes and cutting needed government services.
I talk about Thomas Dixon and Dimitri Cherny because I know them both. They have put their hearts and souls into this campaign, into letting people know who they are and what they stand for. They have done this in spite of a pathetic lack of media interest, lukewarm commitment from the state party, and absolutely no help from the most powerful South Carolina Democrat in Congress.
So when I get those dumb emails from Clyburn's staff, that sound like they want to know my opinion about something absolutely self-evident, I have begun leaving comments about what is relevant to me. Yesterday I answered "yes" to Hillary over Trump, and then added under comments, "Jim Clyburn will win re-election. He needs to come to SC and campaign for the other good candidates who are trying to be heard (insert your favorite candidate's name here)."
Or go ahead and call his office, or write, or start a petition.
I have also left a post on the SCETV Facebook page, which is tricky and a bit less satisfying than you might think. First of all, it isn't easy to find the right SCETV page, so make sure you go to "South Carolina ETV." When you leave a post it will go on the right hand side of the page. I don't know if this means nobody at SCETV will bother reading it, but I did note that the comment just before mine was also expressing disappointment that SCETV was not providing the stage for debates. Anyway, I also went to "message" and copied the same post onto it. I believe somebody there does read those.
So please go to Facebook and post and message to South Carolina ETV.
And then there is the institution of the library. Once was a time when Charleston County Public Library did an excellent job of providing not just every book written by quacks like Glen Beck, but also those written by more moderate and progressive authors. We once had a world-class non-fiction collection. These days, though, after more than a decade of cutbacks and more cutbacks, bad decisions are being made about ordering, too few important books, too few copies if any. And this has been extremely evident through this presidential election.
Donald Trump has "written" over a dozen books, and CCPL appears to carry nearly all of them. They also purchased a bunch of anti-Hillary garbage, with titles like "Crisis of Character," "Clinton Cash," and "Unlikeable." But as well-reviewed books about Donald Trump come out, despite requests for purchase, those books have not yet been ordered. Granted, in these parts there will be more people craving lies about Hillary than the truth about Trump. But even so, as with SCETV, to refuse to make available important information about a candidate this year is truly an abuse of power.
Here are the Trump books:
Gilded Rage by Alexander Zaitchick
Trump Revealed by Marc Fisher & Michael Kranish
(To be fair, they did get in The Making of Donald Trump by the amazing David Cay Johnston.)
I know we are all busy. We may not have time to read all these books. But there are people out there who will read them if they are there. So please help by calling your library and asking them to purchase those two books. I made a purchase request on 8/31, and the election is speeding towards us. Help me get these books to the people of Charleston.
Information. That's what it is all about. You can't blame us for stupid voting if we don't have it.