Voting in the South Carolina Primary with a Bullet in my Head

It’s hard to work up any enthusiasm for the Democratic process when it’s a Saturday, you have to work, and a migraine that feels exactly like a bullet has lived over your left eye for nearly two days. All I was concerned about yesterday morning was getting to work without either fainting or throwing up all over the house and the car. At least this gives things a little perspective: I already had my candidate picked out, but frankly, if any Democrat from the previously cluttered field had approached me and said, “You know, if you vote for  me, I’ll get rid of that headache for you and funnel some money into migraine research at the National Institutes of Health,” I’d’ve seriously considered changing my vote. I probably wouldn’t have changed it for Kucinich, whom I despise for his oversized ego, but any of the others would’ve gotten a second look.

By now, we all know how everything shook out in the SC Primary. Not only did Obama win big, a record number of Democrats voted, which is a good sign, meaning a few more people have shaken off whatever line of conservative political bullshit they’ve been fed at church on Sunday by a preacher with an agenda, or maybe they’ve told a blathering Republican coworker or boss to go screw themselves when that person is expounding about the Republican party. Southern Republicans are possibly the most self-righteous chunk of the American electorate that I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience firsthand. They’re mostly to blame for my loathing of Republicans in general — or at least they’re as much to blame as the official idiot mouthpieces like the entire staff of Fox Anything. I know a few Republicans that I like, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy: it just means they’re exceptionally likable, and I still have hope for their conversion.

And here’s something everyone else is probably thinking too: I’m sick of hearing about the impact race had on this primary. Good God, every journalist sent into the south by a newspaper or a network, major or otherwise, rattled on about racial politics to such an extent you’d think they’d been dropped onto the set of a movie occurring in 1968. I wondered where they stayed and what they did while they were down here. When they left their hotels, did they glance nervously around them in a search for evidence of racial strife? Did they go into restaurants and public buildings and start counting black or white people under their breath? Did they feel pressured by their particular media outlet to perpetuate this crap? What the hell got into these people for the past week or two?

Because look, people, I’m not nuts about living in South Carolina, but it’s not for any racially motivated reason. (Frankly it’s got a lot more to do with being surrounded by Republicans.) This is not 1968 or 1958 or any time generally associated with southern racial disharmony, which is not to say I’m the kind of clueless dolt that believes racial or sexual equality has been reached anywhere in this country. We’ve got a long way to go there, in SC or in California or in Texas or in Massachusetts.

Every time a black person and a white person interact in the south, ominous brooding music doesn’t play in the background, and the two people in question don’t look at one another like the Sharks and the Jets are about to face off behind them. It’s not like being on the set of “Mississippi Burning” every time you accidentally bump into someone of another race with your cart in the grocery store: you excuse yourself and move on, not planning revenge and not feeling assaulted. (Just because the grocery store is a great place to pick a fight doesn’t mean Publix is going to segregate.) This is generally true for friends and acquaintances and total freakin’ strangers. Sure, once in a while there’s going to be some jackass on hand to stir up trouble, like whatever Godforsaken asshole hung a noose on a tree in Louisiana, but if you’ll all check the news, this is true all over the country, from the northeast to the southwest.

So we had two weeks’ worth of reporters trying to fit one primary neatly into the frame of racial disharmony they’d brought with them, tucked between their microphones and their overcoats. Will black people vote for Clinton? Will white people vote for Obama? Uh, yes to both, guys, and it’s pretty insulting to have heard these questions for the first time in SC after going through three previous primaries without anyone spending an entire broadcast on race. The real question that should’ve been asked was, Will all those people in SC whose (Republican) Congressmen and (Republican) senators and (Republican) governor have acted like they couldn’t care less about job loss and lack of health care ever wise the fuck up and remember that the last time our economy looked this bad was right after Reagan and Bush, and every time Americans are convinced to put another (lying, clueless) Republican in the White House, the economy tanks? I’ve heard and heard all about how bad things look in Michigan, but I’d be shocked if it looked significantly worse than things do here. Jobs have been leaving the south since the eighties, when good old Reagan started handing out tax cuts like Halloween candy to every rich business-owning asshole in the country who might want to move his business overseas, and the ones in the south just happened to be near the front of the line. Education isn’t the answer, either: I have a degree with honors and can’t find a job. And by the way, no one has ever addressed the real problem of re-educating workers in the south, which is How the hell are they going to feed their families and pay the rent while they’re “getting new skills” in the job retraining that no one I know has ever seen down here? You don’t get paid during job retraining. Tell that to Mitt Romney and watch his multibillionaire head explode because a poor person just talked back to him. That’s class politics, and there’s more of that going around than you’d think.

There are a lot more immediate problems down here than racial politics. Racial politics never made anyone go through their grocery list and cross off all the stuff they want and need but can’t afford. Racial politics isn’t making companies pull up and move to China. And racial politics isn’t why more Democrats just voted down here than Republicans did. Whoever covers the campaigns needs to get a new slant for their story — which I’m sure they will, now that they’re moving on from SC — and start asking, Will a southerner vote for a Democrat? Hopefully the answer is yes, no matter what race the southerner is. And maybe the eventual Democratic candidate can do something about the bullet in my head, even if it’s just getting me some decent affordable health insurance and/or a good job. You know, the real issues. The stuff that crosses racial and gender lines. The things that gave the Democratic party a victory yesterday along with one of its candidates.

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9 Responses to “Voting in the South Carolina Primary with a Bullet in my Head”

  1. What was cool to me is the enthusiasm at my polling place. Demo-cats are always so defeatest in SC – we never win anything.

    Another common misconception about the South. Black people and white people are the only two races present. No Asians, Indians, Latinos – just the chessmen colors.

  2. Well, don’t tell the journalists and talking heads there are more than two races here. Then they’ll all come back and stay another week.

  3. pandemonic Says:

    The media. I hate ’em. They only look for the negative. I feel for all y’all, but at least they’re gone now.

  4. Did he just call me a chessman?

  5. jojovtx1800 Says:

    oh, politics, I thought he said “chest men”, my bad.

  6. It’s nice that my child is now old enough and politically attuned enough so that when I dance into his room and yell, “He BITCH-SLAPPED her!”, he knows that I’m referring to the SC primary.

    Color me thrilled.

  7. Sorry, no conversion, but all the racial crap gets to me too. If the a-holes would take a look around they’d realize we have people of all races in all levels of government here. The south is not lilly white and hasn’t been for some time.

  8. Shawn, that’s OK — you’re one of the few. 🙂 (You’re in good company, with John’s dad…)

  9. I’ve always maintained that Texas is not in the south. They are a whole region unto themselves, Shawn!

    The media will take any angle that they think will get them viewers/readers, even if they have to make it up. Most of them are so dishonorable they don’t even know what they believe because they’ve made everything up all along.

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