Thursday, June 17, 2010
So What’s Wrong With Voting for an Unemployed Black Military Veteran (Who's Facing Felony Charges)?
Apparently everything is wrong with it, according to many folks, including leaders in the Democratic Party, members of the media, and Youtubers and commentators throughout the blogosphere. After native South Carolinian Alvin Greene beat Vic Rawl, a well-known former legislator and judge in the state, the Democratic Party flew into an outrage. Immediately, accusations that the Republicans had planted Greene hit the media waves. Now, Vic Rawl and party leaders are suggesting voting machine irregularities may be to blame. See, what’s amazing is that Greene spent very little money and didn’t bother to put out campaign signs or create a website. According to Greene, with the help of his family and friends, he simply called folks and went door to door to average citizens in South Carolina and listened to their thoughts and complaints. What did he hear? That people were fed up with the unemployment situation, that they wanted better healthcare and better education. Rather than seeking to raise dollars, he sought out voters. Oldschool, grassroots campaigning.
Well, both South Carolina’s Democratic Representative Jim Clyburn and the party’s state leader Carol Fowler asked Alvin Greene to withdraw. What are their grounds? They suspect shady origins of the $10,440 Greene paid as a filing fee to the Democratic Party. Greene maintains that the money was two years of savings from his military earnings.
To make matters worse, the man has a felony charge from more than six months ago that has yet to go to court. Of course, the media is treating him as though he is already guilty or has been convicted. The felony charge stems from a case that is dodgy, at best. According to the alleged victim, 19-year old Camille McCoy, while at a campus library at the University of South Carolina, Greene pulled up some sexually obscene images on his computer screen, showed them to her, laughed, and then asked if she’d like to go back to her dorm room with him. Greene will not speak about the case.
So, now that you have all the facts, so to speak, here’s my opinion.
About the alleged crime: personally, I find the scenario creepy, but certainly not warranting a felony charge. I hardly even think a misdemeanor is appropriate in this case.
About his unemployment: so what? In some major U.S. cities, like Detroit, the unemployment rate is as high as 15% and 20% amongst African-Americans. I'd say that makes Greene a pretty typical victim of our recession.
I think that folks are most angry that an everyday, average Joe somehow managed to sneak into the election, which, like all elections, are unofficially reserved for rich and (let’s just be honest) white men with elite educations and no criminal backgrounds. Let’s face it: our Supreme court is dominated largely by Yale and Harvard graduates. Only two justices (one after Kagan is sworn in) are not from one of those universities. For the last twenty years, the White House has been dominated by Yale and Harvard graduates: George H.W. Bush (Yale), Bill Clinton (Yale), George W. Bush (Yale and Harvard), and Barack Obama (Harvard). Greene's Democratic opponent, Vic Rawl, has a law school education. We reserve politics for the wealthy and for those from elite educational backgrounds.
Greene is not uneducated though, having received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of South Carolina in 2000.
But he is, ultimately, the total opposite of those things we've come to expect from our politicians. He's poor, unemployed, black, average. Add to all that his less than clean criminal background, and we can see why the Democrats are so outraged.
As a result of this controversy, I've developed a new slogan for the Democratic Party: a party that stands for “the people” but which refuses to let any of the “the people” stand for themselves. In my view, Alvin Greene is one of the people, ostensibly trying to stand for himself and the people. Yeah, he may not be the most articulate. Yeah, he may not have a squeaky clean background or a fancy education. But the man is an average American. Shouldn’t average Americans have a chance to represent themselves, to enter the world of politics and make a difference?
What are your thoughts on Greene? Are folks just hating on him because he doesn't fit the typical politician profile? Or, do you think folks have a legitimate reason to be concerned?