By Laura Haight
“Hunt them down like dogs.”
That’s what the governor of South Carolina voiced as what he wanted to do with Democrats in our state. But, not to worry, he wasn’t serious. According to a spokesman, Gov. Henry McMaster says this “at every GOP state convention” and it is just “a joke.”
I am sure that all the African Americans, who make up a full 25 percent of our state, think this is a real hoot. Remembering the slavery and persecution that their ancestors labored under, thinking of the days when runaway slaves in South Carolina were, in fact, chased down by dogs. Or perhaps more recently when Civil Rights activists were attacked by officers armed with clubs and dogs.
The fact that the governor’s spokesman and, most likely, the governor himself thinks labeling this disgusting comment a joke, makes it all better, makes it far worse. The governor clearly has no real understanding of his constituents or view of any non-Republicans in the state as actually being constituents.
There is a lot of outrage among Dems about this and a demand that we “do something.” The problem is: Do what?
Democratic Women joined the GCDP, SCDP and others decrying these comments on social media. I even entertained the idea of a petition – in fact, I even created one on Change.org – to demand an apology.
But what is the effort/benefit equation on this? Any “apology” we might get would be insincere. And little in the way the governor feels about Democrats is going to change, nor is the way he governs going to be affected. Meanwhile, we will expend a ton of emotional energy and effort.
The best way for us to make Gov. McMaster and all the Republican convention-goers who found his comments knee-slapping fun rethink and regret these comments is to beat them.
Let’s use the anger and the outrage to stiffen our resolve to work harder, work smarter. It will take more than one election cycle. We are not going to have a Blue Tsunami here in SC or Greenville. But can we flip a seat? Yes we can!
- With patience, planning and purpose, we can.
- With solutions to problems, we can.
- With candidates who want to govern, not spend their days coming up with clever tweets, we can.
We have more at stake and we are on the right side of the issues – the side where most voters are. On issues like:
- Abortion where a 2022 survey commissioned by Planned Parenthood found 70 percent of SC voters believe abortion should be a decision left to a woman and her doctor.
- Gun violence where in a 2022 survey, 86 percent of South Carolina voters responding to a Republican pollster supported background checks, and 79 percent were in favor of red flag laws.
- Climate change where in a 2020 survey conducted by Conservation Voters of South Carolina found 64 percent of all South Carolinians think climate change is a serious problem; and by a 2-1 margin support moving to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
- Medicaid expansion where a survey conducted by AARP South Carolina in 2021 found 73 percent of South Carolinans saying expanding the safety net program in the state is “extremely or very important.” That result includes 69 percent of Republicans.
Republicans can have their jokes, their culture wars, and their lies that pass for actual policies and laugh all the way to retirement. But only if we can come together, engage voters on the issues that truly matter to them, and ensure that they vote. That’s our work for the next two years.