Stretching The Tent

Democrats have long touted their party’s diversity, and justifiably so.  Being able to claim “the big tent” has been an important part of the Democrat brand while the GOP identity has been one of racial and gender exclusivity.  And few places, if any at all, have represented that exclusivity more than South Carolina.

Until now.

Republicans in the Palmetto State have nominated a minority woman as their candidate for governor, rejecting three white male contenders in the process.  And it wasn’t even close.  State Representative Nikki Haley came within one percentage point of winning the nomination outright in the primary and then secured it with a landslide 65% victory in the runoff.

Two congressional races added to the GOP’s facelift.  Haley’s colleague in the South Carolina House, Tim Scott, an African-American won the nomination for the 1st Congressional district seat with a no-doubt-about-it 68% runoff win.  And, to dot the i in “irony,” he defeated the son of South Carolina icon, the late Senator Strom Thurmond.

In the 3rd District congressional runoff, voters in what is probably the state’s most hidebound region, rejected – though narrowly – an evangelical candidate for the more pragmatic Jeff Duncan.

While this was happening in the Republican contests, the Democrats were fighting to eliminate a Senate primary win by an African-American candidate over a white establishment opponent.  Granted, the circumstances of Alvin Greene’s candidacy is … unusual … but had that story unfolded in the Republican party, you can bet cries of racism and charges of denying “the disenfranchised” would have brought the Justice Department into the state post-haste.

There is much yet to be done.  After all, these are just nominations; the general elections are over four months away.  And even if these stories carry through and these candidates win, women and minorities still make up far too little of the GOP resident population.

Nonetheless, these are seismic events in the Republican party in a state not known for the last bunch of generations for being particularly accepting of women and minorities in political office.

The tent is open and, clearly, the South Carolina Republican Party is telling everyone, “Y’all come!”



13 thoughts on “Stretching The Tent

  1. You have clearly missed what is going on. The story here is that the grass roots is really fed up with the RINO establishment. We were chunking out the incumbents, particularly BAILOUT supporters Barrett & Inglis. We were doing what we always do – voting for the most qualified, conservative, candidate. It just happens that the competent conservatives benefiting from anti-incumbent, anti-RINO sentiment included a black man and an indian woman.

    We did not vote for or against them because of gender or race, we selected competent conservatives. The common denominator is that they were both endorsed by Sarah Palin, and were both competent and conservative! To mischaracterize this as some sort of racial thing denigrates the accomplishments and qualifications of these two fine candidates.


  2. Dean,

    I think what Garnet Spy was getting at was that these people were elected on their merits in complete disregard for their race or ethnicity.

    He’s just pointing out the irony of these events that belie the claim by the Dems of Republicans being exclusive and the Democrats being diverse, especially when the Dems sometimes pick and choose people, including their own candidates, based on skin color.


  3. The Democrat Party has long trumpeted the diversity of their party, but its brand of diversity has been only skin deep, rejecting any sort of intellectual diversity outside of far-Left wing-nuttery.

    As of January 2011, the Palmetto State will have two black members in the US House of Representatives, Jim Clyburn and Tim Scott. What kind of reception do you think future-Rep. Scott will get when he attempts to join the Congressional Black Caucus? Is he black enough? I really do hope that he tries to join the CBC so as to expose the truth the Democrats have been trying to hide for years: it’s the far-Left Congressional Black Caucus.

    I think the lesson emerging from the elections is that conservatives are individuals who share a common set of beliefs, key among which is personal responsibility, a key component of individual liberty. For us it’s not skin color, type of sex organs, ethnic origin, age, or whatever that matter, but rather our personal beliefs and actions that matter. And we are finally uniting this election season to stop and begin to roll back the encroachment of all-powerful government at the national and state level so that we may enjoy our liberty, pursue prosperity, and practice our industry with family, friends, and neighbors.

    “Don’t Tread on Us” is a message to the good old boys as well as the federal nannies who want to control all aspects of our lives.


  4. “We did not vote for or against them because of gender or race, we selected competent conservatives” and “were both competent and conservative!”

    Sadly Dean, the time was not so long ago that the conservative tent might not have considered Haley or Scott because of their sex and race. Think about it, Haley is the first ever woman gubernatorial candidate and Scott is the first black congressional candidate from a non-gerrymandered district in modern history. Has the principal of looking for competent and conservative people changed, no, but the possible pool of candidates has grown exponentially in just one election cycle.


  5. I felt that they’re the right ones for the job. It’s time for a change, now we need to work on the “Rinos” in the senate.


  6. What –

    We need to work on the state legislature. Under our “weak governor” system, the good old boys run the state by putting cronies up as candidates and through appointments to commissions. I suggest that over half of our commissioners are unqualified for the positions they hold, with the Employment Security Commission being only the latest example. Legislators were perfectly content with a pliant tool as state treasurer when the coke dealer left office, and they had no complaints when he staffed his office with unqualified cronies whose daily efforts were political and not in the best interests of the citizenry.

    Too many of the good old boys bear the label “social conservative” while dipping into the general fund or bond issues to help themselves and their buddies to goodies. We need to demand that fiscal conservatism be the starting point with views on social issues being a big plus, not the only criterion. We don’t need massive outflow of state funds to support some would-be Confederate admiral’s fantasies. Let the McConnells and others do private fund-raising to determine the worthiness of a cause.

    Finally, we need to find a clever way to deliver this conservative message: We don’t have programs to appeal to women, minority groups, specific age groups, hunters, fishermen, or rodeo clowns. We do have a program for individuals who assume the responsibility of citizenship by working hard, living responsibly, helping their neighbors, providing for their families, and supporting the needy with their own resources.

    To sum this up: to promote personal liberty, we need fiscal conservatism. To protect our culture, we need social conservatism. But we can’t achieve the second without the first.


  7. first of all, this how the R party works. when you can’t succeed any other way, present false evidence. ok so now there is a woman who is ethnic, and an african american candidate in the lowcountry. whoopee. big deal.
    what i see is that nothing has changed but the name. same philosophy- give to the rich, take from the poor- to heck with those “small ” people.

    dems are in it all just as badly, i agree.

    so in reality, there are few choices and none of them are good.


  8. Eggaday –
    The primary victories of Scott and Haley do several things.

    – First, the attack on a candidate’s religion failed and will therefore probably not be used in the future.
    – Ditto for unsubstantiated charges of infidelity and other signs of questionable character. It won’t work absent pictures, recordings, or a blue dress.
    – A great family name don’t mean as much.
    – No more RINOs.
    – The Republican tent is bigger than the Dems’ tent. Let’s see the Dems’ minority candidates in non-minority districts.

    There’s more, but the point is that these elections are significant, a start on a grass-roots revolution.


  9. Chris Stirewalt has a great piece in today’s Washington Examiner entitled Small-government insurgents may save the GOP:

    Republicans may manage to find a way to fail in the most favorable political climate for their party since the New Deal Democratic majority got bounced out on its ration book in 1946.

    But the signs for November continue to point to an absolute thrashing for the Democrats and, more surprising, a revitalization of Republicanism.

    The dire warning from the rump of the old Republican Party was that insurgent candidates who embrace a purer, more liberty-minded form of conservatism would be a disaster.

    The old GOP grandees who have never met an incumbent they didn’t like preached disaster, but so far, the small-government rebellion is doing more good than harm.

    South Carolina was the first Deep South state to make the switch to the GOP, opting for Richard Nixon in 1968 while Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia went with segregationist George Wallace.

    South Carolina’s move that year was no less racially motivated, but was at least more forward-looking than Wallace’s effort to force the Democratic Party to maintain its 140-year history of supporting state-sponsored racial segregation.

    Change is again in the air in South Carolina.

    Read the rest. The folks that voted for Haley and Scott and against Inglis are imbued with the best of the Palmetto State’s tradition, modern day Francis Marions. This is significant and while we didn’t start it, we’re carrying on in the spirit of those who shook the halls of power in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

    We done good, so let’s bask in our glory for the next hour, then get back to work. We’ve a nation to change and not much time to do it.


  10. So much for the state Republican party’s “tent of inclusion”. This quarter’s mtg came & went w/no action by the party concerning Knotts. At least several of the county parties, including Jake’s home county Lexington, had the backbone to take action. Although I would love to see Jake go, I do think expulsion would be excessive for a 1st offense. I think the voters will take care of him in 2012. But to ignore the issue, shows the rest of the U.S. that “good ol’ boy” politics are alive & well & still tolerated by those in charge. Hopefully not for much longer. Most S. Carolinians are fed up with this crap. Perhaps leadership changes are necessary in order ensure that “good ol’boy” behavior is not acceptable. Legislative changes began in 2010 will continue in 2012. Things ARE going to change.


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