Devil’s Brew in Dixie
The Dutch Fork of South Carolina
Our small but proud State can't seem to stay out of the political spotlight. We had barely recovered from the exposure of our present Governor's exotic extra-marital affair when we made the headlines again as a result of the surprising outcome of the Republican primary for the next governor.
As you have probably heard by now, State Representative Nikki Haley (née Nimrata Randhawa) took 49 per cent of the vote, swamping three well-known Republican aspirants. The Establishment Republicans and Neocons, who are always interfering and positioning themselves, seem to be claiming Mrs. Haley as their own. Very possibly she will be co-opted by them, à la Sarah Palin, but the outcome of the election was not a victory but rather a serious defeat for the Republican establishment. To this point, Mrs. Haley's showing looks more like a Tea Party type rebellion than the emergence of one more Republican celebrity. Her biggest campaign theme was anti-tax.
She has rendered two Establishment Republicans into has-been, also-ran nobodies: the present lieutenant governor, a rich carpetbagger doofus in the mould of George W. Bush and the darling of the press, and the present attorney-general, a reliable party man endorsed by Rudy Guiliani. The run-off election on June 22 will be between Mrs. Haley and the next highest scorer, U.S. Representative Gresham Barrett. Barrett is as honest and as conservative as one can be and still be a Republican. The outcome will be interesting and not necessarily easy to assess.
Mrs. Haley was born in South Carolina to Sikh parents, immigrants from India. Her father practiced medicine in an impoverished rural area. Her siblings have succeeded in legitimate businesses and a brother is a career Army officer. She married a local man who is prominent in the National Guard, attends the Methodist Church, and has participated in the usual public service activities. She has served responsibly as one of the members of the lower house of the General Assembly from my populous suburban county. She has, as far as I know, never played the race card. Indeed, the black vote is negligible in our county and in Republican primaries, although the carpetbagger vote is large.
Being a fan of the British Empire, I have a soft spot for Sikhs, who were a creditable part of the British Army for so long. In Texas it used to be said that a nasty mob required one Ranger to deal with it. It was said in the Raj that one Sikh could deal with a nasty mob of Muslims or Hindoos. Please, Lord, if we must be flooded with immigrants from India, and we must whether we will or no, let them be Sikhs and not Muslims and Hindoos.
The shifting demographics of our State (even more evident in our esteemed neighbour to the north) render the election results something of a puzzle. In the 1964 election Hubert Humphrey got only 30 per cent of the vote in North and South Carolina. In 2008 Obama got 50.3 per cent in North Carolina and 45 per cent in South Carolina. We are obviously witnessing here a large demographic transformation. This has nothing to do with the black vote because the black percentage of the population has been diminishing in both States with the influx of white carpetbaggers. It is estimated that half our Republican voters were born elsewhere. Our coasts and mountains are dotted with gated communities full of mini-mansions inhabited part of the year by rich Northerners. Our cities are filled with lower-middle-class refugees from the Rust Belt seeking subsistence employment where the economy has been until recently still growing.
Further, thanks to the feds, the Chamber of Commerce, and that heroic and far-seeing statesman George W. Bush, our Mexican population will before long be 10 percent, and Asians, black Africans, and West Indians are numerous enough to be noticeable in any public place.
Our State is still very conservative by American standards. Three hundred years of brave and independent spirit do not disappear over-night. But that conservatism should not be conflated with the Republican Party, which here, as always and everywhere since the days of Lincoln, has been an electioneering machine whose aspirants will say anything and do anything to get hold of the power and perks, and whose only real agenda is maximising the use of the government to increase their wealth.
For South Carolina, which long prided itself on never nuckling under to either party, this is largely the heritage of Strom Thurmond, who easily morphed from Dixiecrat rebel into the earth's biggest and longest-lasting patronage artist. Remember, we are the State that produced the evil, principleless election manipulator Lee Atwater, godfather to Karl Rove.
Shortly before the election, two Republican hacks, connected to the lieutenant governor, held a press conference to announce that they had both had illicit affairs with "that woman," Mrs. Haley. It was implausible, to say the least, when the two pathetic operatives were viewed in relation to Mrs. Haley, a quite handsome woman..The public showed good judgment and her poll numbers shot up. (We South Carolinians seem to have had more than our fair share of rakes in office, but it is well to remember that always and everywhere "politician" is a synonym for "rake." We may even have elected one or two closeted types, if rumour is to be credited, but at least we have never elected a flagrant faggot. Unlike certain Deep North States that politeness forbids me to mention, although one of them starts with "M" and ends in "s.")
Since the election their have been hints of financial irregularities associated with Mrs. Haley, but these mostly seem to be related to alleged non-disclosures of information. Whether there is any substance or this is just another trick from the bottomless bag of Republican dirty ones it is impossible to say.
Meanwhile, the fate of our State, of genuine conservatism,, and perhaps of America, rests upon how successful we South Carolinians are in converting all our new residents from Republicanism to State Rights. The good news is that we are making good progress. Whatever course Mrs. Haley takes in the future, she has done good work in breaking down the party establishment.