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Sunday, December 20, 2009


As we close in on a Senate health care reform bill, Howard Dean and a number of other voices on the left have suddenly started calling for the bill to be defeated. has launched a campaign to attack the most liberal senators for failing to fight more vociferously for the public option. This is just madness, a petty pouting at the compromises that had to be made to overcome a Republican filibuster.

I have said this before, and I will say it again. If you are looking for a target for your anger, aim it at the drug companies, at the health care industry, or -- most appropriately -- at the American people. If they were willing to elect sixty Bernie Sanders and Russ Feinbergs, we would live in a socialist paradise. The liberals in the Senate have been fighting a rearguard action since they stepped onto the field of battle. Those forty Republican senators pretty accurately represent perhaps forty percent or more of the American people. Barack Obama won less than 53% of the popular vote. Almost 47% of those voting chose John McCain and Sarah Palin. That is the reality of the American political landscape. Obama positioned himself only moderately to the left of center on the issues, and still only pulled less than 53% of the vote. What is going on in the Senate right now is a complex, messy, infuriating, excruciating, but quite accurate reflection of that reality.

You want Bernie Sanders to call the tune? So do I. Fine. Don't hold protest meetings in Greenwich Village, or Cambridge, Mass, or Berkeley, California, or Hyde Park, Chicago. Hold them in Ogden, Utah or Charleston, South Carolina. Never been to Ogden or Charleston? Wouldn't go on a bet, because they are not your kind of people? Then stop complaining and take what you can get!


m said...

Well spoken. I'll take it to heart.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wolff, Charleston SC might surprise you. I was born there and I will admit it has a good many on the right but there are plenty on the left too, enough to elect the great Democratic Mayor Riley for 30 years. Charleston fits no profiles. At least until the mid 1800s the city had the largest Jewish population of any city in America until New York overtook it as the American city with the most Jews in the mid 1800s. There is also a thriving Afro American community in Charleston as well, well educated, erudite, accomplished and educated to a degree far beyond anywhere else in the South except perhaps Atlanta now. Although the city does have its poverty as well and like everywhere in America, poverty among blacks outnumbers that of whites. Count ignorance though (adding the population outside of the city proper), and the tables are turned with whites outnumbering blacks in the department of ignorance but that doesn't mean a majority of whites in the city of Charleston are ignorant or that a majority of blacks live in poverty in the city.

The city is unlike anywhere else in the nation. I was born there but we moved away to small towns in SC due to my fathers management job and my mother, a Charleston native, was horrified that country South Carolinians referred to blacks not as Mr. or Mrs. but by their first names. But my mother loved Charleston so I spent many years there as a child in the 1960s and have watched it grow and change. There is a long history, much of it shameful in SC that would explain this phenomenon and I'm not suggesting Charleston is flawless but in many ways it is a small utopia set apart from a state of ignorance, at least that description applies to many people there.

I'll admit to a bias for Charleston but there are many good tours in Charleston with much history to be explored and my mothers neighbors have a a tour business set up to explore African American history there. You're close enough to make it a long weekend trip so perhaps you should give Charleston a try as your educational specialties should help you decide on some grand tours that you can find out about at the Charleston tourist bureau.

I haven't read Pat Conroy's latest book although my grandmother and her sisters and other relatives lived in the area described as "South of Broad". It was nothing special then, when I was a child the paint was peeling on the houses but now corporations have bought up many of those properties or so I have been told. My motehr described my grandmothers house there as "just an old barn", although it's valued at well north of a million dollars, much more than the fifteen thousand dollars my great grandmother got for it when she sold it in the 50s. Conroy used to be one of the liberal spokesmen for South Carolina. It is rumored that he has caught Fox News disease but I don't know, I haven't read his latest work.

But every true liberal from SC has shared some of his pain and there are more than a handful of us. I have not been immune from therapeutic intervention myself, but I can assure you there are many of us from Charleston who are on the far left side of the political and blogsphere spectrum. The city is also well known as being a very gay friendly city. (billboards by mega churches have been a problem from time to time but the gay community has the resources and the organizations to outdo the Leviticus quoters).

Surely you have read The Water is Wide or read the Prince of Tides. Conroy explores race in The Water is Wide and I would hope you have read the book. Things have changed greatly since those days, not that there isn't yet much to change.
I apologize for the long tirade. I am just testy about the city of my birth. Now, if you had made your comment about NORTH Charleston, that's another place altogether and I would argue that you do indeed have a point. That's where the fundamentalist, Leviticus billboard quoting churches are.