Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) with former Vice President Biden
at annual fish fry in Columbia June 19, 2019
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
True political confession time. I voted for Pete Buttigieg in the South Carolina presidential primary this past Saturday, leap day in 2020. I hope my friend Linda Ketner (who was the first openly gay candidate to run for the House of Representatives in South Carolina in 2008 and whose political acumen I seriously admire) isn’t reading along since she made a great effort to change my mind to vote for Joe Biden, the person she truly believed was our best hope to beat the current White House occupant this November in the general election. I told her I would wholeheartedly support whomever our nominee was, and I intend to keep that promise.
I am inclined to vote my heart in the primaries, though, like Al Sharpton in the 2004 primary which John Edwards won in South Carolina. Although Edwards was born in Seneca, SC, which made him a kind of home boy in our state and many people I knew supported him, I remember I struggled even back then about my primary vote. Edwards had good experience, was a successful attorney in North Carolina; he looked good on television which was apparently a huge plus. Eventually John Kerry got the presidential nomination, chose Edwards as his running mate, and promptly lost to Republican Dubya (George W. Bush) in the general. I voted for Reverend Al in the end because of his passion for the poor and those who had been disenfranchised in the political process. The fall of Edwards that followed him in his life afterwards was like a Shakespearean tragedy of epic Hollywood proportions that continued to astound me. I am stunned to discover Reverend Al still owes almost a million dollars for that 2004 presidential run. Can anybody help him? Mike? Tom?
The South Carolina primary is over, Super Tuesday is behind us, and the race is on…here comes pride up the back stretch, and heartaches going to the inside…my heart’s out of the runnin’…true love’s scratched for another’s sake. Thank you, George Jones, I couldn’t put it better myself. My guy Pete dropped out after his inability to score support among African Americans in South Carolina, and he knew he wouldn’t win against the presidential incumbent without that support. He and another candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar withdrew Sunday and pledged their support to Joe Biden whose South Carolina victory may be an historical turning point in the 2020 election. Joe needed a big win here, and he got it.
I thought the media attention given to our state last week was fun and fabulous. For me, watching my favorite MSNBC commentators like AM Joy Reid hosting their programs from a locally owned meat and three restaurant called Lizard’s Thicket in Columbia was as thrilling as spotting Texas A&M’s women’s basketball head coach Gary Blair and his wife strolling around the Colonial Life Arena Sunday afternoon taking in the sights before the game with our Gamecock women’s basketball team. Honestly, presidential politicking at Lizard’s Thicket and the Aggies in town at Colonial Life Arena for the final home game of the regular women’s basketball season – well, how good does it get for an old sports loving political activist dyke? Not much better than this.
To me, as my mother Selma used to say when she had her right mind, the person who changed the course of the SC presidential primary in his endorsement of Joe Biden was our House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn who is the highest ranking African American member of the House, a man who gave a passionate speech for Biden on Wednesday before the Saturday primary. In an interview with NPR host Mary Louise Kelly after his speech, Rep. Clyburn addressed one of my personal questions in this primary process. Why should I vote for another old white man.
“What I’ve said to people when they say that to me, I say, well, it’s a little bit like saying would you rather have an old Thurgood Marshall or a young Clarence Thomas. You don’t define that by age. You define that by people’s philosophy, so the age ought not to be a factor unless there are other things at play.” I would take Marshall over Thomas every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Finally, let me thank the people who have voted in the primaries thus far. I say Bravo to all of you who stood in lines for hours in your states to cast your votes for your favorites. The amazing turnout in the primaries bodes well for the general election in November. I believe the sights of the citizens in long lines indicate the level of dissatisfaction with a divisive president who doesn’t deserve a second term. My hope is that new leadership in the Senate and White House will allow the American people to participate in moving our country forward in a direction that will lift all boats to steer toward the highest ports of true equality and justice for everyone.
In the meantime, I am excited to go to the SEC tournament in Greenville, SC this weekend to see our Gamecock women play. We finished the regular season with a 16 – 0 record, but of course we want more. That’s what fans expect. Go Gamecocks!