Democratic Delusions of Grandeur: SCDP needs a reality check

10 mins read

{Delusional disorder is a serious mental illness where you can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. Delusions, or false beliefs, comes in several types. Delusions of grandeur are one of the more common ones. It’s when you believe that you have more power, wealth, smarts, or other grand traits than is true. Some people mistakenly call it “illusions” of grandeur.

Some delusions might be about events that possibly could have happened, but didn’t or were exaggerated. Other delusions are clearly bizarre, such as insisting that you’re winning but in reality, you’ve been losing for 20 years}

At a time when the South Carolina Democratic Party leadership is desperately struggling to justify its claim to relevancy and continued existence in the face of two decades of losses while the party hemorrhages progressives as well as its core African American base, it is time that we seriously examine what is going on here. This is particularly true now the DNC is trying to make South Carolina the first in the nation primary state.  Some say this is a reward for the state’s support of President Biden in 2020. Which really means South Carolina’s black female vote. No matter.  

By now everyone, especially Democrats have read or heard about Sen. Mia McLeod’s official departure from the South Carolina Democratic Party. I have been amazed but not surprised at some of the responses. It’s almost as if in America a person does not have the right to belong or not belong to any political party they choose. Before we go on we should note that Sen. McLeod is not the first nor will she be the last elected official to change parties.  

Sen. McLeod left no doubt as to why she chose to leave the South Carolina Democratic Party. Among her stated reasons and in her own words, “. . . a recent SCDP fundraising email acknowledges, “Black voters are the backbone of our party…” which makes me cringe because I’ve experienced first-hand how the party treats black voters and black women who run statewide.” And that, “. . . . none of us can afford to be blinded by party loyalty, silent on critical issues or content with the status quo. Ever.” In this regard, the Senator is clearly on point. 

What Senator McLeod did not say is that not only are black voters the backbone of the South Carolina Democratic Party, we are nearly 70% of the Democratic electorate – more than one million strong – and of that number the overwhelming majority are black women. 

But what disturbs me is a fact that everyone has overlooked, I believe intentionally, the underlying basis of her complaint. The foundational problem – the elephant in the room –  is and has always been old-fashioned plantation politics and yes,  racism. 

By plantation politics, I mean the use of strategies and tactics similar if not identical to those used by plantation owners to maintain control of enslaved people who invariably outnumbered their enslavers. The scope of such strategies is beyond the scope of this essay. Suffice it to say that such strategies have always involved promotion to positions of prestige but no power and rewards like better blankets and clothing. But no matter the inducement or incentive it never involved freedom or real power. It Should be remembered that on the plantation the owner did not run things on a day-to-day basis –  that job was left to the overseer. He didn’t call the shots, he carried out the commands of the owner.  In league with him were the enslaved persons whose desire was not for freedom but to get into the Big House to be closer to his enslaver. So it is with this plantation.

It is now established beyond any necessity for proof that the Democratic Party was a racist, white supremacist party from its inception. Since 1947 when George Elmore brought the landmark lawsuit that forced the South Carolina Democratic Party and the Richland County Democratic Party to allow black folk to vote in the Democratic primary we have been staunch supporters of the party and of us the most dependable supporters have been black women. Yet in 76 years there has only been one black Democratic Party chair. There has never been a black Democratic candidate for Governor. So what is the problem? Why are we not pushing and supporting black women who run for office and who ascend to leadership positions within the party as Senator McLeod claims?

The answer is both simple and shameful. The South Carolina Democratic Party leadership will not tolerate strong black women in leadership roles. A prime example is the case of Mattie Thomas, former chair of the Florence County Democratic Party who was forced to run for her position multiple times until she was finally defeated solely because she spoke against party hypocrisy, bullying, and thuggish intimidation..The Political Lynching of Mattie Thomas – The MinorityEye. Thomas formal complaint – Google Docs

They know that strong black women will not bend to their will, won’t be silenced, and cannot be pushed around. Strong black women are frankly, considered a threat. And that is the bottom line. Why?  Because they are not easily controlled. They cannot be depended upon to parrot the party line when it is not in line with the interests of those whom they represent and within the party they will champion positions that are often contrary to those of the party establishment. 

The South Carolina Democratic Party is dying as a result of its ill-advised, short-sighted strategy of ignoring the wishes of its core constituency in an attempt to curry favor with people who will never vote for them while attacking black women and progressives.  

These facts paint a gloomy picture of the future of the party. But it is not too late. The South Carolina Democratic Party can be saved. First, it must dethrone its current leadership whose racism and ineptitude have perpetuated the losing streak that has characterized its leadership. Their plan, if it can be called such, has been a dismal failure, and to repeat it would be suicidal. Knowing this the leadership should resign. At the very least not seek another term.   

Second, the next leader(s) must have a concise, well-thought-out plan that he or she will publish in advance and defend in the run-up to the election. The plan among other changes must disperse power to greater numbers of party members. For decades the party has been autocratic while claiming hypocritically to be democratic. If we want the support of the people everyone must have a seat at the table when decisions are made.   The plan must precede the leadership. 

We need new ideas and a real plan. We need a black caucus and all caucuses that really stand up for their members and not just rubber stamp the dictates of party leaders.   

I, for one, will support anyone with a plan to revamp the party and make it responsive to all its constituencies. The plan must be specific, detailed, and all-inclusive. We will only provide our vote with our voices being heard and reflected in party rules and platforms. We can fight with you or against you. But we will no longer be silent and/or complicit.

Johnnie Cordero is an African American thought leader who identifies as a Radical Centrist. He is the current Chairman of the South Carolina Community Black Caucus. Cordero is the host of the “Radical Review” podcast and is a frequent political contributor and commentator for The MinorityEye. Cordero holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Doctorate in Jurisprudence. He is the author of ‘Total Black Empowerment: A Guide to Critical Thinking in the Age of Trump.’ His new book ‘Theodicy and The Power of the African Will’ is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online booksellers.

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