Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005
is churning among voters
SC Statehouse Report
18, 2005 - - Something's simmering just under the surface
of politics that should give South Carolina politicians running
in 2006 a little pause.
"There's churning in the political structure,"
said University of South Carolina political scientist Blease
Florida pollster Dave Beattie says there's a feeling among
voters across the country and in the South that neither of
the two major political parties is offering what they want
- - simpler, more effective government and an end to divisive,
"Political attitudes aren't more extreme than 15 years
ago, but the choices (in candidates) are more extreme,"
Beattie said a new swing group that he calls "Starbucks
Republicans" may be the 2006 equivalent of "soccer
moms" from 1996 or "NASCAR dads" of 2004. This
group is comprised of fiscally conservative, socially moderate
voters with weaker partisan ties. They're business-oriented,
environmentally sensitive and younger. They live in urban
and suburban areas. They tend to be non-natives. And while
they go to church, they don't vote on religion first.
In short, they're kind of a modern breed "country-club
Republicans" who aren't motivated by the social activism
marked by Republicans aligned with the Christian right.
"Starbucks Republicans question the Republican Party,
but are going to default there unless there's a reasonable
alternative," Beattie said.
In part, they're questioning because they're tired of partisan
sniping at the national level among both parties and the ethics
scandals creeping through Congress and the White House. On
the state level, they're a little frustrated with the increased
focus on a social agenda (creationism, gay marriage, abortion)
by a few elected GOP activists who seem to be steering the
party to the right.
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Beattie said Democrats who focus on fiscal conservatism and
solid ethics could win some Starbucks Republicans to build
a coalition to capture some seats in the Statehouse. But there
are three big challenges Democrats face in wooing the swing
First, state Democrats, like national Democrats, have a big
image problem. Thanks to more than a decade of tirades by
right-wing radio shock jocks, conservative columnists and
think tank fellows, most people view Democrats as welfare-loving,
tax-raising liberals with a direct connection to the Kennedys
or Clintons. In truth, most South Carolina Democrats are among
the most conservative in the country - - people who believe
in fiscal responsibility and moderate social policies. But
in politics, truth is often less perceived than fiction.
Second, Democrats in South Carolina seem to have little that
connect them. There doesn't seem to be a clear platform of
what they stand for. Instead, they're viewed mostly as being
against Republican-led issues. For Palmetto State Democrats
to be seen as reasonable alternatives, they need to dispel
the liberal image by uniting behind some core ideals and communicate
them in thought, word and deed.
Finally, the likelihood there will be enough Starbucks Republicans
to affect the composition of the S.C. House or governor's
mansion dramatically is akin to the chance that France will
become the 51st state of the union.
While Starbucks Republicans offer a small window of opportunity
for some Democrats, the group's frustration should send a
clear message to Republican leaders. People want reasonable
action on schools, health care, the budget and the environment.
They don't want bickering between lawmakers and the governor.
They want to believe in their state government, not be massaged
and wooed by insider politics fraught by overactive political
caucuses. They want a system that moves the state forward
for everyone, not one that rewards party loyalty.
"There's a mean-spiritedness you see in political campaigning,"
Graham observed. "It's kind of a 'them' and 'us' mentality
and we don't know who the 'us' is."
12/16: Sofa scrooge
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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Keep up the good work
To the editor:
Thank you for the insightful articles in your SC Statehouse
Report. I read them in the Beaufort Gazette and am
impressed with your thoroughness and courage in showing what
our leadership is and what it is not doing.
You article on how "poorly South Carolina fares"
11/13] should be a call to arms. I think the Governor
should declare a state of emergency to address these and other
issues that spell a dismal future for many people in this
state. Your other articles point out how it is just business
as usual in "this is the way my daddy did it" good
old South Carolina. Well daddy wasn't faced with today's economy
and growing disillusionment in our citizenry. Nothing will
be done unless people like yourself show what is actually
going on in our great state.
My purpose in writing is to encourage you to keep it up and
hopefully people will have enough and make some changes. I
know that today the government's strategy is to blame the
messenger for their own mistakes and dishonestly and not accept
any responsibility. Take heart some of us want the truth so
we can demand change.
-- Jim Ross, Beaufort, SC
12/15: On personal property taxes
To the editor:
There should be some provision other than that which is already
on the books, for a person who is 72 years old and owns a
home. The amount of taxes you want is going to make me move
into a mobile home. HELP!!!!!
-- Janet R. Wade, Charleston, SC
12/14: Where she stands
To the editor:
- Restructuring - Against appointed positions.
- Charter Schools - Against Charter Schools
- Cigarette Tax Increase: In favor of this
- Worker Compensation: System is good as is
- Isolated Wetlands: Protections is critical
- Refinery & Drilling: Nip this is the bud
I thank Gov. Mark Sanford for supporting tightening SC law
to protect property rights. The eminent domain bill would
limit "public uses" for which the state and local
government can condemn property. He wants legislators to restrict
the circumstances under which a local council can deem a desirable
property "blighted". This will allow developers
that want property for large projects to acquire it the old-fashioned
way instead of asking government to condemn it.
-- Carol Maghakian, Myrtle Beach, SC
12/9: Small businesses are victims of times
The following is an excerpt from a letter sent to Statehouse
Report by a Beaufort business owner who disagreed with
a letter to the editor written by Beaufort lawyer Tom Davis
about a Dec.
4 Statehouse Report column on small business. Davis
will become Gov. Mark Sanford's chief legislative aide in
Dear Mr. Davis:
I am writing to you in regard to the community
forum letter you wrote, published in the Beaufort Gazette.
I am a small business owner in Beaufort who is struggling
to understand exactly how all the programs you mentioned are
going to help us all pay our ridiculously high rents and stay
in business. I guess people in and supportive of government
are so far removed from the day to day economy that they cannot
understand that small business owners all over the state (and
country) have suffered from drastic reductions in sales over
the last 4-5 years while rents have continued to increase.
This translates to a trickle down economy - sans Reagan. There
is no money left to advertise, purchase larger inventories,
hire more counter help, etc. Most small business owners I
know have had to take a more hands on approach due to insufficient
finances. Most I know are having to borrow more money just
to stay afloat during these awful times while one landowner
just gets richer.
We don't necessarily need programs that "require state
agencies to keep us in consideration of the impact state agencies
may have on us before they issue final regulations,"
or a tax cut that lowers our marginal rates, or tort reform.
We don't need mentoring programs because we do not find ourselves
in this position due to stupidity or negligence. We are simply
victims of the times: 9/11, the long-term worldwide recession,
drastic reductions in tourism, exorbitant gas prices and greedy,
wealthy landowners who do everything they can to squeeze every
last penny out of their tenants.
-- Name withheld upon request,
property tax will hurt disabled vets,
Manuel Bettencourt, Hilton Head Island, SC
more to property tax changes, Tom
Hatfield, Hilton Head Island, SC
to do something on illegal immigration,
Bob Logan, Little River, SC
problems are inexcusable, Sue
Womack, Pawley's Island, SC
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political news items from the past week:
Clyburn. Hats off to US Rep. Jim Clyburn who was elected
today to head the House Democratic Caucus, another big position
in the House Democratic leadership.
Mack, Leventis. Kudos to Rep. David Mack and Sen.
Phil Leventis for sponsoring legislation to make it easier
for people to vote. Now it's up to the legislature to actually
make it easier.
Phil Bailey. Thumbs down to the Senate Democratic
Caucus official for posting inappropriate comments on a state
Fair. You've got to give it to Sen. Mike Fair, the
Upstate conservative. He doesn't give up pushing his restrictive
kind of Christianity on people across the state. Most recently:
creationism and so-called "intelligent design."
Floyd. GOP superintendent of education candidate Karen
Floyd must have read Orwell's 1984 recently. Her call this
week for video surveillance in classrooms reminded us more
of Big Brother than Good Government.
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