It’s hard not to feel bad for Democrats from South Carolina.
Republican Jim DeMint‘s U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs in that state, but on Democratic voters there couldn’t differentiate on primary day between their party’s actual politician, Vic Rawl, and Alvin Greene. As CNN tells it:
Greene’s June 8 primary victory stunned politicians in South Carolina because they had never heard of him and saw no proof he had mounted any type of campaign. His Democratic opponent, Vic Rawl, tried to have the election overturned, saying there were voting machine irregularities…
But apparently Greene’s wasn’t the only name on the ballot that no one had ever heard of. Ever since Greene won the state’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senator, the effort to marginalize him has been his own party’s top priority. Their hope, apparently, is to transcend democracy by replacing Alvin Greene on the ballot with the man he defeated, Vic Rawl. I guess they caught a break earlier today, when news broke of Greene’s indictment by a grand jury on obscenity charges.
According to CNN:
Greene was indicted on one felony count of “disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity,” according to the Richland County clerk of courts. He was also indicted on a misdemeanor count of “communicating an obscene message to another person without consent.”…The alleged incident occurred on November 4. Greene, according to a report from university police, told the student “to look at his computer screen.” The alleged victim claimed she told Greene that the image displayed on the screen “was offensive and not funny.” [Read the full CNN article].
(For further details on the alleged incident, read Dan Amira’s “How Unemployed Senate Candidate Alvin Greene Picks Up Women.”).
South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler has repeatedly asked Greene to resign. She quickly released a statement today, saying:
“Following today’s indictments, I repeat that request… The indictment renews concerns that Mr. Greene cannot represent the values of the Democratic Party or South Carolina voters.”
Fowler’s reaction shouldn’t surprise us. From the start, Greene’s harshest critics have been members his own party. Between Rawl’s blaming voting machines and Fowler’s incessant nagging about how unqualified he is, South Carolina Democrats have made clear that they can’t wait for Greene’s fifteen minutes of fame expire. Party leaders may even secretly view Greene’s indictment as a blessing, and ultimately they may be successful in using it to achieve their desired outcome, getting Vic Rawl’s name back on the ballot with a “D” next to it.
I don’t know much about Rawl, except that he already lost one election to a “nobody” who didn’t bother to campaign. Why party leaders are so excited about Rawl is beyond me. I guess they just think he will embarrass them less while losing.
The Need for Reflection
Whether or not Alvin Greene turns out to be a creepy pervert should have no bearing on the need for liberal South Carolinans to do some important soul-searching. If anything, a conviction would make the Democratic party look even worse–that their chosen candidate couldn’t beat this guy, and that their liberal voters couldn’t tell the difference.
There remains something deeply unsettling about the general response to Alvin Greene.
If we ever needed proof that the American dream is just a myth, South Carolina spent most of the summer confirming it for us. The law says any citizen is eligible to run for office (so long as one can afford the filing fee required to get one’s name on the ballot—which in the case of the Democratic Senate primary ballot, is $10,440). But even though Greene paid the fee, and South Carolina’s top law enforcement agency determined he used his own money to do so, he was never really truly “eligible,” was he?
Before we knew anything about him, most of us concluded that Alvin Greene was not someone worth taking seriously. The media told us he was a joke–i.e., not the guy who was supposed to win–and that was that. Just seeing him in that “Greene Family Reunion t-shirt” looking so unprofessional and unconventional, was all the information we as a society needed to write him off in our minds. What could he possibly have to say?
Okay, so in fact most of what Greene did have to say turned out to be fairly ridiculous–such as his proposal to create jobs in South Carolina by making–“toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Like maybe action dolls. Me in an Army uniform, Air Force uniform, and me in my suit”–an idea that isn’t that much stupider than much of what Sarah Palin says.
But whose fault is it that someone like that won an election? You might blame the Democratic party for not approaching a primary election with the seriousness it deserves; you might also blame Vic Rawl for not being a compelling or interesting enough candidate for voters to remember by name when they entered the booth. But South Carolina voters must share part of the blame themselves, for not doing their part as citizens, entering the booth uninformed.
One of these days a new brand of politician may come along, one that’s willing to take on all the powerful entities that every successful politician to date has been forced to appease.
My point isn’t that Alvin Greene was that person. But when that person does come along, he or she isn’t going to look, speak, and act just like every other generic politician on TV. The mainstream media would likely go out of its way to alienate such a person, in fact. In other words, even though conventional wisdom may have been right about Alvin Greene, it’s still the wrong way to go about making up our minds as voters.
Politicians’ placing the needs of the people ahead of corporate demands is an unrealistic and radical notion in times like these, when corporations make an effort to stay much more intimately informed about politics and elections than the average citizen.