Well, the race for president has finally reached full-blown status and as summer arrives with increasingly warmer days, the same may be said about the amount of vitriol and vigor we can expect from the candidates as their lust for the White House increases.
I was hopeful that the Democrats, who thus far had played relatively nicely with one another, might continue along that path but it appears that Uncle Bernie has hung around just a little too long for Mrs. Clinton to be comfortable, and it appears that the gloves have come off as Hillary seeks to dispatch him and clear her path to the Democratic nomination. But many ballots are yet to be cast, and nothing is certain in politics.
Well maybe one thing is fairly sure, at least this year, and that is that the Republicans will be an entertaining bunch right up until the convention—and perhaps beyond. From a an original field of more than a dozen we’re now down to three candidates—Trump, Cruz, and Kasich—and rarely does a day pass that they are not involved in some sort of dispute over rules, or delegates, or party loyalty, or maybe just some verbal sparring or arrow slinging. This bunch is as much fun to watch as a barrel of monkeys, and perhaps only slightly brighter. But at least monkeys will pick the mites off one another; this crowd seems to be from different tribes and appear absolutely determined to just tear each other apart. And may possibly be well on their way to it. Time will tell.
If they were competing for something such as mayor, or councilperson, or maybe even an animal control officer slot, instead of such an important position as Leader of the Free World it’d be a lot more fun to watch.
Regardless, this has been the most interesting run-up to a national election that I’ve seen since that bug-eared billionaire Ross Perot made a splash back in the presidential campaign of 1992 with his threats to go to Washington to “clean out the barn and haul off the trash,” and, in the process, opening the door and paving the way to eight years of Bill Clinton. Politics hasn’t been this fun for me since Bennettsville attorney John Napier rode Ronald Reagan’s coattails—and the FBI’s ABSCAM public corruption sting—to victory in the 1980 race for the South Carolina 6th District Congressional seat over disgraced Democrat John Jenrette, who is now best remembered primarily for two things: allegedly having sex with his then-wife, Rita Jenrette, behind a pillar on the steps of the Capitol Building during a break in a late night session of Congress and being charged with and convicted for accepting a $50,000 bribe.
Ah, those were the days.
But as former United States House of Representatives Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill was fond of noting, “All politics is local,” and we have some very interesting—and important–local races currently underway for various council seats, as well as a four-man race to replace outgoing Marlboro County Sheriff Fred Knight that is shaping up to be hotly contested. Also, of no small concern is the fact that South Carolina Representative Patricia “Pat” Henegan is facing competition from across the Pee Dee River as she seeks to retain her District 54 seat in the SC House. This is a critical time for Marlboro County and it is important that we are unified behind her to ensure that the issues and problems facing Marlboro are recognized and properly attended to by lawmakers in Columbia.
Nevertheless, political season is clearly squarely upon us, and one doesn’t have to look very far these days to see a campaign sign, or maybe six or seven. But in seeing them, I am always reminded of a past election season when I was discussing the surprising number of signs one candidate had been able to get put up in yards all around his district and how I felt that so many people displaying his sign was an indication that he was going to do well in his race. To my eternal gratification, one of the people I happened to be talking with at that time was long-time local politico and election veteran Mr. Billy Wallace, Sr. who turned to me and calmly reminded that, “Signs don’t get to vote, son. People do.”
I’ve never forgotten that, and never will. Voting is the single most important freedom we have. I ask that you do your due diligence about the candidates, attend rallies or “meet and greets” and ask questions so that you can make the wisest and best choice. The future is here, and your vote matters.
(For questions regarding voting issues, please contact the Marlboro County Board of Elections at 843-479-5612.)