Now on to the debate in South Carolina was the general refrain after Nevada and the candidates who caterwauled under the pretext of debate in Charleston on February 25th 2020 moved into the State’s Capital and its surrounding areas to lobby South Carolinians to their cause- that of trouncing Trump.

Heading to the State’s Capital of Columbia and its more metropolitan Charleston is a time worn tradition. Where else could an ambitious politician find a trove of endorsements but at the State House, the Capitol, where elected Congressmen and women boast of having been sent there to represent the people?  

And within that geography, an interesting 40 minute or so drive from the State House, is a nesting of Historically Black Colleges and Universities- HBCU’s – in Orangeburg County; an area rich in slave history and home of three prominent HBCU’s right next to each other.

Can’t get Blacker than that, if you are there for the Black vote.

And, as an added bonus, James Clyburn, Whip of the House Democrats, hails from that region, Sumter, and enjoys ‘Living Legend’ status there.

They’d already attended his ‘Famous Fish Fry’ to demonstrate their ease interacting with the demographic that has crowned Clyburn ‘King Maker’, a moniker he wears with the expectation of those visiting his court to come bearing gifts.

It is within this environment of negotiating and ring kissing and gift bearing that the black vote is bought and the King Maker’s endorsement is sought and we, the black voters, are shuffled off, ostensibly, to the man whose shoulder Clyburn taps, in an overdone production of televised endorsement in which he hogs the spotlight to announce his decision to allow his flock to vote for this selection.

To say that it is insulting is to avoid the use of well-deserved profanity and my thinking is that I’m expressing a collective sentiment because no one wants an assigned surrogate for a critical activity like deciding their choice of President, without ever even seeing that person.

I live in a county that is 48% Black and have never seen Bloomberg, Steyer, Klobuchar, Buttigeige or Warren here.

And like others, I don’t buy the financial and logistic constraints argument when Candidates show up in towns like Seneca South Carolina, with its 62.5% White population right before the South Carolina debate, claiming to woo the black vote; or conveniently take a picture with a black female lawmaker which would check the box for black and female with an opportunity to leave a donation for a campaign which could always use a financial boost.

Neither can I buy headlines like “Pete Buttigieg casts a line for Black Voters in South Carolina. He Catches Suburban White Women.”

Pete obviously is a bad fisherman. He went to the Salmon stream and caught Whiting. Had he the requisite campaign presence on the ground, he would have known that robo texting information about a “Community Conversation” to an area in which 22.8 % of residents live below poverty would have targeted phones without regular service, let alone robo texting availability. Of course the meeting was schedule to coincide with his South Carolina debate performance… the key metric here, not the voters.

In the State which ranks 44th out of 50 States in Education, it is easy to see how transient Politicians would patch together a Campaign from some past template, especially when they are guaranteed cover in the form of endorsements from politicians who once bled blue.

A google search of South Carolina politicians endorsing the rich candidates will show that many steadfast Democrats have lost their stead in the face of dollars.

And by this surrogacy, we the voters are supporting these rich players by proxy because the politicians who went to State Congress on our behalf have decided that they could pick a Candidate for us without consulting us, even if he falls outside of our ideological spectrum.

Why consult, I’m thinking they’re thinking, in the face of all this campaign generosity?

Tom Steyer’s Television Ads touting a leadership that will improve the lives of Black people rings as hollow as him renting Head Quarter space from the daughter of the most prominent Black Democrat in the state -Jennifer Clyburn Reed.

Of note, too, is that Clyburn’s grandson just happens to be in a Buttigeig commercial…the only voice Pete thought would serve as a conduit to the demographic he needs…especially by face recognition. Guessing the poverty stricken residents of North Charleston cannot afford TV service, hence the bad fishing expedition.

And those of us who are paying attention to politics, Godfather style, are shaking our heads at how Clyburn has managed to endorse his Party’s preference in Biden and still, albeit by extension, endorse the rich Tom Steyer by Head Quarters rental and snag some contributions from Bloomberg, the only Candidate who  attended his Fundraiser in October 2019.

It’s the kind of political hat-trick that is attempted when the gullibility of the victims is assured. For all of their socioeconomic suffering, metastasizing over the decades of his representation, Clyburn remains revered and renown in a paradoxical clash of Shakespearean cruelty with him saving his people by selling them out.

“I know Joe,we know Joe … but most importantly, Joe knows us” he offered in somber incantation, as if he had gone beyond humanity to seek the guidance of the spirits. Well he did wait until after the South Carolina debate, so one could argue that he did some rumination.

It’s distressing to see the recalibration of these politicians whose signature mission was to fight Black Injustice, like Bloomberg’s Stop and Frisk and Steyer’s investment in private prisons, both of which have caused irreparable harm to Blacks.

It’s equally as painful to hear them reconfigure their sentiment of the activities of these men, whose fame and fortune came at the expense of the commission of injustice against the very people these warriors built their political careers on protecting.

And the debate that we’ve watched so many times before Feb 25th 2020, that may have been raucous amongst participants, never had a booing section in attendance to boo only specific debaters when they attacked the man on stage who just happened to have the deepest  pockets.

In this season of billionaire abundance the firewalls we had in our politicians have been irremediably  singed.

Follow the money, they say and I have. So I’ll say this to the men who are anticipating our votes because they have massaged the lesser parts of our politicians.

We vote as individuals who have made an evaluation of the candidate and those of us who are able, make it our duty to visit folks that may not be as predisposed or enthusiastic as we are about politics to explain to them what the issues are and how they will affect their families and them singly.

If these rich men were interested in reaching the voters and not inflating poll numbers only, they would have engaged us at the community level.

I, personally, made several attempts to get behind the iron curtain of their campaigns and will submit that the circular communications chain that gets you nowhere is testament to their mission being victory strictly, with public service as a possible byproduct.

The day of the South Carolina debate, I saw two Warren signs off the main road of a predominantly black neighborhood, with a Steyer 2020 and Mike Can Get it Done 2020 standing off from them, in an area I’ve visited previously to encourage folks to register to vote.

You know these guys I asked? Mike, was one response..laughter.. Michael Jordan…laughter? Naw I ain’t know no Mike or Warren or that one there … pointing to Steyer.

So who you voting for, you know its on Saturday, I said.

I ain’t know , was the response, they say Joe. Which Joe, I asked? Aw aw ‘Bama buddy, man.

Biden, I said. Yes that’s it right there, was the response.

You know it was one thing to deal with the Koch brothers who financed redistricting and gerrymandering with unbridled shame. At least our politicians were on our side then and helped us cry foul loud enough to avert some danger.

But now, if we have to deal with billionaires standing on our platforms, buying our endorsement by trickling compensation down to our representatives, we’ll just have to let them know that we are unimpressed by their polls that do not reflect an accurate cross section of Black voters in the State.

And, since they couldn’t even pay us the courtesy of a visit to solicit our votes, the only ones they are guaranteed from this county will be from our representatives, the politicians they were able to compromise.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, Verian. I did not get to watch the debates. I am locked into campaigning for Joe Biden. I have been going door to door and making phone calls. I have also been making calls for the democratic party in my voting district. Hope, one of these days, we will get to connect again. It was my pleasure to spend even that short time with you. I will be working tomorrow at the poles at Chapman High School.

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