Ever questing for the simplistic, the lost wanderers of masscomm media, fogged by out-of-state political preconceptions, are blindly stereotyping voters in South Carolina’s Republican primary.
They made the same silly sets of mistakes in Iowa and again in New Hampshire. Next, they breezed into the Palmetto State, ignorantly type-casting voters there, then flew off to Michigan, there to repeat their errors, blithefully unaware of how difficult to decipher Michiganders can be when you don’t understand the complexities of that state, either.
Despair not. Know-it-all as always, they’ll be back in South Carolina for the conclusion of its primary, getting things wrong once again.
They’ve already made things easy for themselves, classifying South Carolinians into tidy sub-publics — blacks (that’s one group, period) and what’s left (that would be whites).
According to those electronic wiseacres, blacks — Democrats all — will vote in a block as is expected of them. Whites are a little more difficult for the media geniuses to predict, but not much.
As the leftist masscomm smarties see it, South Carolina Republicans (all white, of course) fall into two convenient sub-groups — retired military and evangelicals.
Therefore, they conclude, the race in that state is between John McCain (ex-military) and Mike Huckabee (active-duty evangelical).
So, to listen to the commentators, it’s just a question of who can get his group of block voters to the ballot boxes in time. In fact, there’s no need to wait for the actual voting. The opinion polls, fonts of all wisdom, will pick the eventual winner well in advance.
Then it will be on to Florida, where the media elite don’t know anything more of substance about the culture than they do in South Carolina. Heck, they can’t even get the spelling or pronunciation of Florida towns any more accurately than they do in South Carolina.
In addition to not knowing what the Gnat Line is in South Carolina, or how it denotes night-from-day differences in the multiplicity of cultures of that state, here are some other empty holes in the leftist media’s bob-tailed universe of knowledge: Blacks: Some are retired military. Some are evangelicals. A whole bunch have had it up to here with Democratic politicians in their state and are wide open to voting for a Republican for president.
Blacks who live along the coast no more think and act like blacks who live Upcountry than either of those think and act like blacks who live in Detroit or Manchester or Des Moines. Retired military: There are numerous blacks who retired from the military and now live in South Carolina. What’s more, South Carolina has a healthy number of black service men and women on active duty living there.
Most of South Carolina’s military personnel are definitely not atheists or agnostics or even left-leaning Episcopalians. Most are God-fearing folks who actually believe in what they believe.
That doesn’t make all of them evangelical, either. Not by a long shot. Evangelicals: Many are black. Many are white. You can’t tell just by looking at them.
Some evangelicals are second- or even third-generation military. Others never put on a uniform. Does that mean they all come in identical degrees of patriotic fervor? Of course not.
Do all evangelicals in South Carolina vote for a candidate, first of all, because they agree with that candidate’s religious views? Not at all. Believe it or not, those evangelicals come in all shades of political persuasion.
By now, the point must be obvious: South Carolinians do not vote like birds of a feather — and certainly not like sheep. They are, to the last man, woman and child, a highly individualistic lot.
It is impossible to hop off a plane in South Carolina, stick a microphone in the face of the first five natives you encounter and think you know a blessed thing about South Carolina or its people.
That takes years of living there. Even then, you don’t always know as much as you think you do.
South Carolina is not Southern California. It’s not even North Carolina. Upcountry South Carolina is no more like Low Country than both are like all of South Carolina.
No wonder the pollsters split their pants in Iowa and in New Hampshire. They are looking even sillier trying to stereotype South Carolina.
Of all the presidential candidates, the one who seems to understand this best is Fred Thompson, who flabbergasted everyone but South Carolinians when he captured the audience of the Fox News debate in Myrtle Beach.
No one described the complexity of South Carolina politics better than the former governor and senator, Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, whose Low Country accent was barely comprehendible Upcountry:
“When I began my first statewide campaign, one veteran of South Carolina politics told me, ‘Son, when you get up there in Anderson County (in the northwest corner of the state), you’re gonna find there be two frictions.’
“I thought he must have meant factions,” said Fritz. “When I got to Anderson County, I realized he knew whereof he spoke.
“He went on to tell me, ‘If one of the frictions be for you, t’other be again’ you.’”
In the decades since Fritz encountered those two frictions, South Carolina has grown and matured dramatically. It is now populated by a highly complex, never-static accumulation of independent-minded individualists.
The two frictions have long gone. Now there are so many you can’t count them — especially if you ain’t one of ‘em.
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for NewsMax.com.
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