It’s not unprecedented for me to feel a little embarrassed for my beloved native state when the Legislature comes back to town each year, but, not wanting to sound like my friend Doug Ross (to whom politicians are a lower order), I try to greet the dawn of each session with optimism.
It was hard enough to do so when I was paid to do it — when, as captain of HMS Editorial Board, I had to strike the proper undaunted expression as I paced the quarterdeck — and now, it’s even tougher. (Towards the end, I started fraying around the edges a bit and showing my impatience.) After the humiliations we suffered in the eyes of the world in 2009 — our stimulus-denying, soulmate-loving gov; Joe (the Volcano) Wilson; the joker who demanded that government keep its dirty hands off his Medicare and so forth — the one good thing about it all is that it kept the world from noticing that a significant numbers of lawmakers, apparently nostalgic for the 1860s, were trying to resurrect nullification.
And indeed, they didn’t get all that much attention. So of course, they’re starting this session by renewing their mad effort.
There doesn’t seem to be any rational justification for this movement. It seems rooted in a deep, primal desire to scream “No!” at the world — especially the rest of the United States of America. Not at anything in particular, just at the rest of the world for, I don’t know, being the rest of the world. Related to the mentality behind the “We don’t CARE how you did it up North,” which at least had some wit going for it, this humor-free initiative seeks to shout, “We don’t want to have anything to do with anything Y’ALL want to do — especially not if it involves gummint, and might do some good. Because the LAST thing we want is for gummint to do any good and give any of our folks the suspicion that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the root of all evil.” (And most of all, don’t you DARE try to do anything about fixing our single greatest domestic problem, this health care mess. We ain’t havin’ nuthin’ to do with THAT.)
Some would say that there’s something in the water, but I think it’s genetic. There’s something perverse in the DNA of white South Carolinians. I see it in myself from time to time, but I suppose some of it leached out of me during the years I spent elsewhere, because I’m able to override my more antisocial, self-destructive impulses. Most of the time.
But some of our white folks are determined not to learn a thing from the way their last attempt to cut themselves off from the rest of the country ended (badly, for those who started it — just in case you weren’t paying attention, either). They want to reassert their negation, and do it loudly.
Some of you Democrats will notice that these recent embarrassments I cite are all the works of Republicans, and seek to make some partisan point that gives you a moral advantage of some kind. But don’t. These things are being done by Republicans just because all the white folks who run this state are Republicans these days. Their daddies were Democrats, and they engaged in much the same foolishness. This is genetic, not party-based.
To those pushing this madness, I say this: If you’re bored, and just busting with energy to do something, why don’t you spend some time actually addressing some of the real-life problems that face this state? Here’s a TO-DO list I drafted for you last year as I was leaving the paper. And don’t worry, nobody’s gotten in there ahead of you and grabbed the good stuff. It’s all sitting there, unaddressed.