Party Wars: Rogue Senator, The Rebel Realignment

A lighthearted and fun summary of current political events in South Carolina

14 mins read

A short time ago in a state far far away from being blue…. A Battle Looms

It’s a time of great turmoil within the South Carolina Democratic Party as it finds itself still reeling from yet another defeat at the polls, this one self-inflicted. Despite losing eight of their members, a handful of Democratic Knights in the state legislature prepare to fend off a Republican hoard hell-bent on using their new supermajority to tighten their grip on the state. 

Within their own ranks, the state Dems find themselves embroiled in internal conflicts as they attempt to avert a civil war between splintering factions.

Just when Party leadership thought all rebellious voices had been quelled, a brave Democratic Senator from one of the last remaining blue strongholds in a blood-red state makes a profound statement with the announcement of her departure from the Democratic Party. Her willingness to stand independently in the midst of a colossal conservative cartel and a party-loyal legion of liberals sends shockwaves across the state and fuels “Realignment” talk among party rebels.  

Her bravery sparks quick condemnation from the Democratic House Leader, who leads a dwindling minority of dedicated and determined Democratic Knights. In response, he issues his own equally bold and profound statement. In doing so, he opens a “Political Pandora’s Box,” and sparks an existential debate. “Realignment, or remain loyal.”  

From left to right: SC Representative Todd Rutherford (D), SC State Senator Mia McLeod (I), Gary Votour (LP), and Andrew Yang (FP)

Now with the state’s Democratic party tittering on the brink, a leadership battle is also brewing. The Party’s oldest and wisest Democratic Knight and only congressman is nearing the end of his reign as Democratic Overlord. With the congressman away, engaged in an equally epic national battle, the continued reign of his Underlord who serves as the state’s Democratic chair is uncertain. 

Nearly half of the state’s Democratic legislative delegation is disillusioned with the state’s Party leadership and wants change. Rumors run rampant of numerous challengers who are plotting a potential leadership run.

In the shadows, progressives gather in their caucuses and committees. Once the most vocal and publicly active party members, in recent years they have been ostracized and driven from leadership positions. Now their plans for revenge are in motion.

Progressives aren’t the only aggrieved sharpening their knives. General Cordero, once a loyal party defender, has now been declared a radical and exiled from the party. While in exile, Cordero has been engaged in a legal battle with the Party which has now cost the Party over $100,000 dollars and is still climbing. Despite the Party’s dwindling war chest, Chairman Robertson has promised to fight on regardless of the financial cost.

But fate may not be on Chairman Robertson’s side. The forces of change are now mounting on his left and right flank. 

In recent weeks, Cordero has achieved several strategic victories. He has won the favor of one of Chairman Robertson’s most loyal allies, several rebel leaders from across the state have pledged their delegates to whomever Cordero backs as Chair, and a key democratic donor has agreed to fund General Cordero’s assault on the last remaining forces loyal to Chairman Robertson. 

As Cordero takes aim at the Party’s command and control infrastructure, two things are certain. A strike is imminent and it will be decisive. 

Even while facing a growing number of internal adversaries, the state Party goes out and creates more external adversaries. The Party breaks its long-held Gentlemen’s agreement with third parties and liberal-leaning independent voters in the state by launching an unprovoked undemocratic and unnecessary attack on the South Carolina Labor Party. 

For reasons known only to Chairman Robertson and the Democratic Dark Lords from which he derives his power. Chairman Robertson brings suit against the Labor Party and has their gubernatorial candidate removed from the 2022 mid-term ballot.

The future cooperation between Democrats and all third parties in the state is now uncertain. And now another third party has emerged to pick up the democratic values, the SCDP has callously discarded. 

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is scheduled to speak at a state house rally and formally introduce to the state a new political party that he co-founded — the Forward Party. The rally is less than two weeks away and Yang, a rising political rebel with a rapidly growing group of the state’s political insurgents, is looking to give South Carolina voters another political option on their ballot.

However great, these other perils pale in comparison to the rebellion brewing among black voters. For the last four decades, the alliance between the South Carolina Democratic Party and black voters in the state has remained unbroken. Black voters comprise over 66% of the state’s democratic electorate. Black women are South Carolina Democrats’ most reliable constituency.

Now, the single rogue senator will stop at nothing to emancipate herself and her constituency from 40 years of partisan bondage, a move that could shatter the alliance between the Party and black voters. Meanwhile, one doggedly optimistic state representative is determined to hold this fledgling alliance together. 

Their political feud has sparked the most important political debate of our time. The outcome of which, will have social and political repercussions for the black community of South Carolina unseen since the Realignment of the 1920s, which saw the exodus of black voters from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. 

‘Realignment’ is inevitable. Either the SCDP will realign its values and principles or its core constituencies will start realigning themselves with other parties.   

The future of the South Carolina Democratic Party hangs in the balance. The outcome will undoubtedly be determined by internal battles between core constituencies through an epic series of Party Wars.

May the constituency be with you!

A Real-world Summation 

The over-dramatized narrative above summarizes the real-life political odyssey playing out on the South Carolina political scene. It was written to give readers a lighthearted and fun overview of the sensitive and complex political debate currently taking place within the South Carolina Democratic Party. 

In regard to the debate at hand, I think it’s appropriate to first mention that I applaud and thank Senator McLeod and Representative Rutherford for their courage of character and willingness to engage their constituencies and party members in such a courageous conversation.

That being said, I believe Senator McLeod and Representative Rutherford are both simultaneously right and wrong. Their debate is the political version of Schrödinger’s cat. 

Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment. In quantum mechanics, it’s known as the paradox of quantum superposition. The theory summarizes that if you place a cat and something that could kill it in a box and sealed it, you don’t know if the cat is dead or alive until you open the box. So as long as the box remains sealed, the cat is in a sense both dead and alive. It is an analogy used to represent how scientific theory works. No one knows if any theory is right or wrong until said theory can be tested and proved.

How does this relate to the McLeod vs Rutherford debate? It’s simple. The paradox of quantum superposition teaches us that two opposing theories can be true at the same time unless proven otherwise. In this case, until the voters decidedly prove a position one way or the other, Senator McLeod is right that the Democratic Party has failed its constituents and Representative Rutherford is also right, that Democrats need to rally around each other and stay the course. 

They both present sound examples for each of their positions in their public statements. 

According to Senator McLeod, she left the SC Democratic Party because it no longer embodies the values that she and her constituents hold dear. 

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.

SC State Senator Mia McLeod (I)

Yes, the Party did, yet again, back another all-white ticket; despite the fact that black voters make up a third of their voter base. Yes, the Party supported a gubernatorial candidate who ostracized black voters in both the primary and general elections and made disparaging and ageist comments about elder elected officials. And yes, said gubernatorial candidate promised that he would offer half his cabinet seats to Republicans if he were elected.

Then in the face of a historic defeat, the Party leadership shrugged their shoulders, pointed their fingers, and blamed their loss entirely on black voter turnout. Then they went on with business as usual. 

In regard to Representative Rutherford’s statement. He is correct that the voters in Senator McLeod’s district did, in fact, elect a Democrat. He is also right that the Democratic establishment is far from perfect.

Our party isn’t perfect. Far from it. But if you care about the progressive values that the Democratic Party represents, then I believe you have a responsibility to fight to make it better.

SC State Representative Todd Rutherford (D)

Senator McLeod and Representative Rutherford both speak boldly of the Democratic Party not being perfect or not espousing to values that the Party promotes publicly. But what they seemingly forget is that they are “the Party.” A state Senator and a state Representative are effectively the highest ambassadors of their party in the state.

As such, both Senator McLeod and Representative Rutherford have the power to set a Party that has lost its way back on the right path. They also have the power to make a not-so-perfect party better.

More importantly, they are the ‘establishment.’ They are ‘what’ we love about this Party and they are the ‘things’ that are not so perfect with this Party.  

They are what the Party ‘is’ and what it is ‘not.’

As voters, we cannot physically vote for our values and our beliefs. So instead we vote for the person who embodies the things that we value most. 

For some party matters, and for others, it’s principles. 

So until Democratic voters have had their say at the polls, both their public statements will continue to spark countless debates and spawn many more Party Wars.

Michael Bailey, a trailblazer in the field of photojournalism and a profound political writer, possesses the exceptional ability to distill complex political issues into accessible narratives that resonate with readers of all backgrounds. As the vanguard of the editorial team, Michael not only serves as a new media correspondent but also showcases his distinct talent as a photojournalist. His portfolio is a testament to his expertise in crafting news stories and intimate profiles that vividly portray the cultural, social, economic, and political journeys of minorities, both in South Carolina and beyond. With a rich tapestry of experience spanning media, business, and politics, Michael has emerged as a highly regarded voice and a sought-after commentator, offering invaluable insights into the challenges faced by people of color.

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