Why SCDP’s failure should matter to Black voters
In the South Carolina House of Representatives, the recent loss of eight African American legislators is more than just a partisan power shift. Five were defeated by white Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections, and three lost their districts due to gerrymandering during redistricting. This loss of representation is an ominous sign of things to come.
The loss of black legislators weakens not only the Democratic party’s influence in South Carolina but also deprives underrepresented African American communities across the state of their voices. These legislators were more than just elected officials – they were advocates for these communities. Their absence means that the unique concerns and needs of these communities will likely go unaddressed.
At a time when Republican legislators are already enacting legislation that restricts and prohibits the teaching of critical aspects of black history, such as slavery and the Jim Crow era, the loss of African American representation in the state legislature could not have come at a worse time.
African American legislators lost during the 2022 Midterm elections
- House District 12: Republican Daniel Gibson got 53% of the vote to defeating Rep. Anne Parks.
- House District 64: Republican Fawn Pedalino got 55% of the vote defeating Rep. Kimberly Johnson.
- House District 116: Republican Mat Leber got 52% of the vote defeating Rep. Chardale Murray.
- House District 117: Republican Jordan Pace got 64% of the vote winning the seat held by Rep. Krystle Matthews, who lost her U.S. Senate race against Republican U.S. Senator Tim Scott.
- House District 122: Republican Bill Hager got 54% of the vote defeating Rep. Shedron Williams.
African American legislators who lost their seats due to district mergers resulting from redistricting.
- Rep. Cezar E. McKnight
- Rep. Jerry Govan
- Rep. Wendy Brawley
Diminished African American Representation
When people of color are underrepresented in the political process, their voices, perspectives, and experiences are silenced. The loss of these eight seats, that were held by African Americans means that fewer black voices will be heard in the legislative process. This lack of representation is not only unjust, but it also makes it difficult to create laws and policies that adequately address the needs and concerns of African American communities. It’s a worrying indication of the direction things may take in the future.
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It’s not just about who is sitting in the seats; it’s about the stories and experiences that they bring to the table. People of different races and ethnicities have different experiences, and when those experiences are not represented, it is challenging to create laws that reflect the needs of all citizens. Having a diverse legislature is crucial to creating laws that are fair and equitable to all.
But it is not just about diversity for diversity’s sake. It is about ensuring that African Americans have a say in shaping the laws and policies that impact their lives. Losing these seats not only sets back the progress that has been made but also undermines the principles of democracy. It is essential that we strive to make sure that all people have the opportunity to be heard, to vote, and to have their voices represented in government.
Why SCDP’s Leadership Matters
The loss of these seats also highlights the need for African Americans to be more active and engaged in the political process. African Americans make up a significant percentage of the population in South Carolina, and their votes have the power to make a difference. The loss of these seats should serve as a wake-up call to African Americans that it is vital to become more active in politics and work to ensure that their voices are heard and their issues are addressed.
Also, it highlights the need for the South Carolina Democratic Party to acknowledge that their continued failure to turn out black voters may be due to a failure to listen to the needs of the black community. It demonstrates the need for significant improvement in their messaging and strategy and highlights a critical lack of diversity in the planning and implementation process during campaigns. Without input from African Americans from the communities they aim to reach, the Party’s voter outreach efforts are doomed to fail.
SCDP leadership must stop relying on out-of-state consultants and operatives who lack the necessary insight and experience to reach black communities. Instead, the party should recruit individuals from the community who have extensive knowledge of their needs. To do so, the Party must ensure that there is more diversity among the people drafting the message, directing campaign resources, and dictating overall campaign strategy.
The loss of these eight legislators is a sobering reminder of the work that still needs to be done to achieve proportional representation in our political system. We must strive to make sure that all voices are represented in our state legislature, and we must work to create a political system that is truly reflective of the diverse tapestry of not just our state but America.