In 2008, Black people in South Carolina went to the polls and cast 96 percent of their ballots in favor of Mein Obama, joining the vast multitude of Black people across the nation who voted in similar fashion.
Now, news of a relative unknown - how this could be in politics is never answered - winning the Democratic nomination for senate in the state of South Carolina is sending shock waves throughout the nation:
Take someone unheard-of by the majority of the public—your dentist, your 7th-grade teacher, your creepy cat-lady neighbor—and multiply their level of anonymity by 10. Alvin Green, the surprise victor of yesterday's South Carolina Democratic Senate primary, is still less famous. “I wasn’t surprised, but not really. I mean, just a little, but not much,” Greene told Mother Jones. He was the only one.
Greene earned 59 percent of the 191,336 Democratic votes cast yesterday. After his shocking win, the Huffington Post had to solicit its readers for any tidbits about Greene, pleading: “Do YOU know anything about Alvin Greene? Do you have any photos of him?” The unemployed 32-year-old Army veteran lives with his parents and barely campaigned at all: he had no yard sign and no Web site, and he paid the $10,400 filing fee and all other campaign expenses out of his own pocket. According to Mother Jones, he didn’t show up to the South Carolina Democratic Party convention in April or file any of the mandatory paperwork for candidates with the state or the Federal Election Commission. The kicker? Charleston’s Live5news.com reported today that Greene is actually facing a pending felony charge for showing lewd Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student and suggesting they go to her dorm room.
So how the heck did this man beat out 64-year-old former four-term state lawmaker Vic Rawl, who ran a $186,000 campaign? State Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler offered an uber-scientific reason, speculating that voters unfamiliar with either candidate may have voted for Greene because his name appeared first alphabetically. (Note: This theory may also account for how Bush won twice.)
Greene will face off, and inevitably be crushed by Republican incumbent Jim DeMint in November. If the primary was any indication, it is likely that many more Republicans will show up to the polls. Republicans doubled the Democratic turnout in yesterdays race, with 413,699 Republican votes versus the Democrats’ meager 191,336. Perhaps an even more important factor favoring DeMint: D comes before G in the alphabet.
You have to feel bad for Vic Rawl, a mild-mannered Southern gentlemen who has played by the rules his entire life only have them ripped apart by his unknown challenger
Race obviously mattered in the 2008 Presidential election, but did it matter in South Carolina in 2010? Greene, the victor, is Black. Rawl, the loser, is white. A hilarious interview with Mother Jones can be found here where Greene stumbles through various questions about his ambitions.
The question is simply this: Did Black voters in South Carolina vote exclusively for Greene based on the fact that he is a Black person, as they did with such joy in 2008 for Obama?:
South Carolina is about 30 percent black, but in the Democratic primary held here in 2004, around 50 percent of the voters were black and a big turnout of blacks this time could provide a landslide win for Obama.Writing at The Root, one individual has this to say:
The biographical sketch of Mr. Greene isn't flattering, but then again where he elected to the Senate to represent the fine people of South Carolina, he would immediately join fellow Black lawmakers who also are defined as ethically challenged.
Alvin Greene, a 32-year-old, unfunded, unemployed veteran who is black and lives with his mother in Manning, S.C., ran away with the Democratic nomination for the Senate in the Palmetto State last night. In the November general election, he will face first-term GOP incumbent Sen. Jim DeMint, who many expect to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
If elected, Greene will become only the fourth black person elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction and the first from the South. But let's pause here for an important question: What the hell is going on in South Carolina?
Greene, who is completely unknown to Democratic officials in South Carolina or anywhere, put his win in dramatic historical perspective: ''I want to thank all my supporters for making history in South Carolina,'' he told the Greenville News. ''It's been over 100 years since a black has won the nomination of a major party to the U.S. Senate from this state.''
No kidding. South Carolina, which is almost 29 percent black and ranks fourth among states with the largest percentage of black citizens, has elected only one African American to Congress in the last 100 years, and that is the current Democratic Majority Whip in the House, James Clyburn.
Democrats don't win statewide races in South Carolina anymore, so there is almost no scenario that plausibly explains a Greene victory over DeMint in November. On the other hand, there is no plausible explanation of how he won the Democratic nomination in the first place. The possibilities are intriguing.
Is this guy some kind of political genius? Some kind of stealth savant who has retooled and remastered the art of grassroots campaigning so that he could win 59 percent of the vote without breaking a sweat, that he could demolish a better-known, better-funded, well-credentialed candidate, while escaping the notice of his opponent, his party and the media? Greene defeated Charleston lawyer Vic Rawl, a former prosecutor, circuit judge and state representative, who graciously conceded: ''The people have chosen,'' said Rawl, 64. ''There's no question that Mr. Greene is the candidate they selected and I wish him the best.''
This one, undoubtedly, will get more interesting. I'm betting on a case of mistaken identity; South Carolina Democrats thought they were voting for someone else when they voted for Alvin Greene. But just to be clear, this is a guess, pure speculation, with nothing factual to back it up. Still, it is as good an explanation as I've heard. The other speculation floating around in the political ether is that Greene is a Republican plant. The support for that theory is that it took $10,400 to file for the primary, and Greene initially tried to do it with a personal check.
The Columbia Free Times, an alternative weekly in the state capital, described the odd sequence leading up to Greene's filing: ''The candidate ... walked into the state Democratic Party headquarters in March with a personal check for $10,400. He said he wanted to become South Carolina's U.S. senator. Needless to say, Democratic Party chairwoman Carol Fowler was a bit surprised. Fowler had never met Greene before, she says, and the party isn't in the habit of taking personal checks from candidates filing for office.''
According to the Times story by Cory Hutchins, Fowler informed Greene he needed to establish a campaign organization and open a campaign account. And she got personal, asking Green, ''if he thought it was the best way to invest more than $10,000 if he was unemployed.'' Greene left, came back several hours later with a campaign check, which the party happily accepted. But that was the last anyone heard of Greene until last night, when he won in a walk.
Here is a breakdown of how South Carolina Democratic voters voted in the 2008 Democratic primary. Granted, in 2008 the brand of Barack Obama was well-known, but are we to believe that in a state as racial divided as South Carolina that no-one knew the race of Alvin Greene and magically 59 percent of the citizens voted for him?
If that is the case, what does that say about 59 percent of the voters in South Carolina who cast their ballot for a man they knew nothing about?
Is this a case of Black Run America (BRA) flexing its collective power, or is it a case of mass stupidity by an electorate unfettered by conventional methods of campaigning who uniformly decided that the mysterious candidate was a more seductive choice than Mr. Rawl?
The State, a major newspapers in South Carolina, attempts to answer this very question:
day after an unemployed veteran shocked South Carolina's Democratic establishment by winning the U.S. Senate primary, party officials were still scratching their heads: What happened?We might never know why Greene won in such incredulous fashion, as he is being asked to withdraw from the race over his felony charge that includes pornographic photos displayed in a lewd manner. What a shame.
Alvin Greene, 32, didn't raise any money. He didn't have a website. And his opponent was a relatively better-known former legislator, Vic Rawl, who had already planned fundraisers for the fall general election.
Greene was considered such a long shot that his opponent and media didn't even bother to check his background. If they had, they would have discovered he faces a felony obscenity charge after an alleged encounter with a college student last fall.
After The Associated Press reported Greene's charge Wednesday, the leader of the state Democratic party said she asked Greene to withdraw from the race.
"I did not do this lightly, as I believe strongly that the Democratic voters of this state have the right to select our nominee," chairwoman Carol Fowler said. "But this new information about Mr. Greene ... would certainly have affected the decisions of many of those voters."
But Greene said he will not step aside.
"The Democratic Party has chosen their nominee, and we have to stand behind their choice," Greene told the AP at his home in Manning. "The people have spoken. We need to be pro-South Carolina, not anti-Greene."
Court records show Greene was arrested in November and charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student, then talking about going to her room at a university dorm.
Charged with disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity, Greene could face up to five years in prison. He has yet to enter a plea or be indicted, and neither Greene's attorney nor a woman listed as the victim immediately returned messages.
South Carolina state law prohibits convicted felons from serving in state office. Felons can serve in federal office, although the U.S. House or Senate could vote to expel any member deemed unfit to serve.
Rawl said he didn't know about Greene's arrest until reading media reports about it.
"It's an absolute surprise," said Rawl, who scrapped a late-week fundraiser after the loss. "I can't really make any comments, because I don't know what's going on."
His prior arrest aside, questions abounded in the day-after deconstruction of Greene's win.
Had Rawl been a victim of the anti-incumbent sentiment that swept the state's primaries? He only carried four counties, but one was Charleston, where he currently serves on county council.
Did Greene capitalize on some sort of a movement among either black voters or the unemployed? A subset of the Machinists' union ran cable ads in South Carolina encouraging the state's jobless to vote, but the group says it never promoted directly Greene or mentioned his name. The director of the state's NAACP chapter says he knew nothing about Greene, who is black, before the win.
There was so little known about Greene's race, background or employment history that it would be hard to believe any of those factors played a role.
It certainly was not his communication skills: Greene spent the better part of an hour Wednesday morning repeatedly putting a reporter on hold before hanging up after the mention of his arrest.
Greene's win may come down the simple fact that his name was listed before Rawl's on the alphabetized ballot, a possibility Fowler said she pondered Tuesday night. Now, Fowler is trying to rework general election schematics that had assumed Rawl would ultimately face off with DeMint.
Even if Rawl had been successful, one analyst expressed skepticism it would have made a difference against the juggernaut of DeMint, a tea party darling who has marshaled a $3.5 million war chest already in the pursuit of his second term.
"A lot of it speaks to the lack of depth of the bench for the Democratic Party in South Carolina right now," said Scott Huffmon, a political scientist at Winthrop University. "Their best shot in November, really, is the Governor's Mansion."
Remember that voting by those dispossessed is something not tolerated in America any longer, so imagine the outcry if Greene is forced to resign and Rawl then represents the Democrats to the displeasure of those who voted either exclusively for his race or in a monolithic fashion based on stupidity.
Also, it is going to be increasingly difficult to find Black candidates worthy of running who don't have a prior record as we move into the future.
Regardless of why Greene was elected, Black people in South Carolina either cast their votes for him based on their racial similarities or because they found the racial dissimilarities between themselves and Rawl to difficult to overcome that even voting for the mysterious candidate was a worthier choice then the white dude.
Stuff Black People Don't Like can only laugh, as this entire episode showcases both the horrendous power of BRA and simultaneously its obvious weakness.
Strange though, this who ordeal reminds us of the final scene from the film Last of the Mohicans...
Alvin Greene will remain the poster child of SBDPL even if he is forced to remove his name from contention for the Senate seat he so richly deserves.
South Carolina is a state where Black people are unified in ways few can imagine, even demanding Black football players boycott the University of South Carolina for the lack of Black people on that university's Board of Trustees.
Democracy is a harsh mistress and no better physical representative of this political ideology can be found than Alvin Greene.