By: Camden Johnson and Lee Goff
On Friday, the South Carolina Democratic Party released a statement saying that they support workers in pursuing a $15 minimum wage. They continued by calling on Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham to join Democrats to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. We appreciate the SCDP’s resolve and support to lift the standard of living for 731,000 South Carolina workers that this legislation would positively impact. However, their statement proves that the SCDP doesn’t understand they have a responsibility as a party to its base: working people.
It has been proven, time and time again, that Senators Scott & Graham have no interest in making sure South Carolinians have a living wage. There is no doubt that we must mobilize to replace them with Democrats that believe in a living wage and will work to lift South Carolinians out of poverty. However, the SCDP is in a position of political power. This state party used to be under the leadership of the current DNC chair. Under the endorsement of this state’s sole Democratic federal legislator, South Carolina Democrats launched President Biden into office. South Carolina Democrats organized to activate voters in South Carolina and Georgia, helping to get Biden elected. So, if the SCDP truly supports workers in pursuing a living wage, they could do so by holding their own accountable.
It is Democrats who are in power now. We have a Democratic president, House, and Senate. Democratic leaders, from President Biden to our state party leadership, must hold other Democratic leaders accountable. South Carolina is proud to be home to the most powerful black man in Congress, but it is important to note that Rep. Clyburn’s district benefits the most from this; nearly 59% of workers in the 6th district would see a pay increase. Is the state party working with him to hold Democrats like Senators Manchin & Sinema accountable? Are we working with DNC Chair Harrison to call on Democrats to abolish the filibuster, an instrument of the Jim Crow era that holds 229,000 black South Carolina workers in the bondage of wage slavery?
The answer is not and cannot be to pass the buck onto the Republicans. The solution must be to labor to truly stand with workers and use our power, a power granted to our elected leaders in the party and public service, to mobilize support and tear down the barriers that stand in the way of working people. The SCDP’s statement missed the point. Democrats have the power to get things done for the working people that have empowered them. We want more than a statement. We want action.
We welcome South Carolina Democratic Party leaders to join us at the march and show that they stand with SC workers. Nothing would give us more joy than to know that the leaders genuinely do stand with working people, and we will gladly provide them with a platform to talk about what Democrats will do among themselves to fight for a living wage if they choose to accept the offer.
As citizens of this state, we will gather on the State House steps on Sunday at 3 pm. We’re going to give some instructions, and then we’re going to march to the SCDP Headquarters on Gadsden St., where we will hear from organizers, leaders from our communities, and workers and families that the wage increase would impact. This march is not a march against the Democratic Party. It’s about South Carolina workers asking those in power to fulfill their promises and obligations. $15 is justice, and where there is no justice, there is no peace.