Here are a couple of facts about South Carolina and about Rep. Clyburn's district that I wish had become part of the debate. This is the first election in modern memory where the Democratic candidates really have to compete for African-American voters. And by "compete" I do not mean go to a black church, use a fake black accent, talk about black folks' spirituality, blame black folks for black folks' problems -- and then expect their votes. The winner of the South Carolina primary will be the person that gets the most African-American votes period. And because each of the three Democratic candidates remaining needs those votes, they have to go after them vigorously. This places African-Americans and their elected representatives in a prime position.
With that in mind, take a look at James Clyburn's congressional district. It is predominantly black, having been carved by black Democrats and white Republicans in order to ensure a majority black district, and encompasses five counties as well as parts of 10 others. It has a large number of poor residents. The poverty rate in Williamsburg County, for example, is almost double the state's poverty rate, at 27.90 percent (with a child poverty rate of approximately 36 percent). It is far below the United States average in the percentage of its citizens educated beyond high school. Its median household income is more than $17,000 lower than the U.S. median income.
So imagine you are Rep. Clyburn in this situation. For the first time in a long time, the vote of your constituents, long ignored by the political party that you call home, matter. In that context your endorsement matters. If you're Clyburn, and you've got a chance to be "the decider," and you've got a large number of poor constituents (the majority of whom are black) who need help, do you focus on language and symbolic slights that have their roots in an era almost 50 years past? Or do you focus on the material needs of your citizens, on programs and policies to help them? SOURCE
See, that's the problem with voting for symbolism, like Gloria Steinem, Roseanne Barr and lots of black folks on the Obama train (Just read the comments section of any WAOD post on Obama.) want us to do. When you vote for symbolism and not issues, your needs don't get met. If I were a voter in South Carolina, I would demand that somebody start talking about their plans to address poverty, health care and education. THAT person would get my vote.
Read my previous post on Race as Theater.
Read What About Our Daughter's take on the issue. (multiple posts)
Read John Edwards' plan to end poverty. He is the only candidate who has one.