Michael Rodgers, longtime correspondent here and founder of the Take Down The Flag blog, wrote this to me today, and I share it with you:
I am writing for two reasons: to point out some common things people often say that are wrong and to describe the stunning lack of leadership from our state government on this issue.
First, the things that are wrong:
1) Our issue in SC is just like the issue in Mississippi or Georgia. Wrong, because our issue in South Carolina is about the third flag we fly, not about our state flag.
2) The 2/3 vote requirement for this issue is insurmountable. Wrong for two reasons:
a. The 2/3 requirement is a legislative hurdle can be taken out of the way with a simple majority (1/2). Then a simple majority would be able to change rest of the law.
b. Our state government votes 2/3 all the time when they override Gov. Sanford’s veto, so in fact 2/3 routinely occurs.
3) No one in our state legislature is interested in resolving this issue. Wrong, because H-3588, a bill to resolve this issue, has seven sponsors. (And as a personal opinion, I think H-3588 completes the compromise).
4) This issue is between flag supporters, who are happy, and flag opponents, who are unhappy. Wrong for four reasons:
a. The issue is the FLYING of a third flag from Statehouse grounds, so the camps are flag flying supporters and flag flying opponents.
b. Flag supporters are unhappy – why else would they get so worked up all the time about this issue?
c. This issue is between the leaders of our state government, who are happy, and South Carolinians, who are unhappy.
d. The issue is actually the story (the why!) we tell when we fly or when we don’t fly the flag. (And as a personal opinion, H-3588 provides a completely consistent clarification of the story of the compromise of 2000).
5) This issue is not worth our time to resolve. Wrong because this issue is
a. a defining issue for our state,
b. tearing our state apart, and
c. diminishing our state’s stature.
Second, the stunning lack of leadership.
Gov. Mark Sanford said, "Everybody has a different perspective. It is a deeply dividing and complex issue that we’re not going to try and open and re-examine. Somebody is going to have to place a tremendous amount of political capital to pry open a compromise. This administration is not going to be doing that."
Our state government is flying the Confederate flag, and this action causes people to react viscerally. And when I say people, I am concurring with Gov. Sanford’s grouping: It’s a deeply dividing issue that affects everybody.
Our state government is flying the Confederate flag, and this action causes people to have enormous confusion as to the reason for this action. And when I say people, I am concurring with Gov. Sanford’s grouping: Everybody has a different perspective.
Our state government is causing deep division that confuses everybody, and what does Gov. Sanford propose to do about it? Nothing.
Gov. Sanford says that this simple issue is too complex for him to re-examine. He says what he always says, which is if we’re going to do anything, we’ve got to throw out everything we’ve been given and start fresh — new constitution, new government structure, new approach to property taxes, new approach to education, etc. No wonder he doesn’t have the political capital to spare for this issue!
I say that we can solve this issue by respecting the compromise and by clarifying the confusion. Our state government made a compromise in 2000, where they decided a lot of things under a lot of pressure. By and large, they did a fantastic job, under the circumstances.
One part of this compromise, the flying of the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds, is deeply dividing everybody because everybody has a different perspective on this action. We can focus on solving this last remaining issue because the complex parts of this issue have already been solved.
We can solve this last remaining issue, the simple one, with H-3588. This bill says that confusions about racism and sovereignty can be resolved by flying our state flag in place of the Confederate flag. This bill says that confusions about respect for heritage can be resolved by commemorating Confederate Memorial Day every year by flying the Confederate flag at the flagpole where it is now.
H-3588 respects the compromise of 2000 by honoring the Confederate Soldier Monument, Confederate Memorial Day, and the Confederate flag. H-3588 clarifies the message about why our state honors the Confederate flag: because we respect the service and sacrifice of the Confederate soldiers and not for any other reason.
Because H-3588 respects the compromise and clarifies the confusion, H-3588 completes the compromise. A leader can easily solve this problem. Who’s going to step up to the plate? The governor’s mansion awaits.