Earlier today, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley signed into law a bill, passed by both the state’s Senate and House chambers, that will remove the confederate battle flag from the pole adjacent to a confederate war memorial on the capitol grounds. This stunning, whirlwind accomplishment caps an emotional 22 days here in South Carolina. Let’s review:
When running for re-election just last year, governor Haley dismissed ANY notion that the presence of said flag caused any negative views of her state from outside investors. Her opponent, state senator Vincent Sheheen, had advocated for its removal, but hey, he lost, so the issue, we believed, was dead as of last November.
The stunning slaughter of nine Charleston church-goers in the Emanuel AME Church, during bible study, set the course for a whiplash-inducing change of position – not just in Haley’s mind, but in the minds of dozens of state G.O.P. lawmakers. Democrats, by and large, were long ready to see the final moments of the flag on state grounds, but you could hear it in Haley’s voice when she made her remarks the morning after Dylan Roof senselessly massacred those nine innocents. Something had triggered immense compassion within her; maybe it was her own minority upbringing and lineage, or perhaps she, being a devout Christian convert, that doctrine finally triggered something in her mind. It’s easier to speculate what made Haley change her position, I suppose, but let’s instead just enjoy it.
What Haley and her Republican compatriots have learned, however, is the voting bloc they’ve long pandered to can and will turn on them in a SECOND. The very people that rallied to the ballot box to re-elect the governor and seat so many in the G.O.P.-heavy statehouse certainly didn’t vote for THIS, and if the comments on her Facebook page are of ANY indication, they’re seething with rage.
What will be interesting, though, is to see what, if any, repercussions she and other state Republican lawmakers face in future election cycles. Will there be pro-confederate conservative candidates for them to take on? Haley’s immune from reprisal, at least in South Carolina. Her second (and final) term is up in 2018, but will this stunt or catapult her into a national spotlight? Does she even care?
The Haley I’ve seen since that tear-inducing next-day statement isn’t at ALL the Nikki Haley progressives have come to loathe. There’s no way to describe this change in tenor, but it’s real and it’s pronounced.
So now what?
For the pro-confederates, there’s this as consolation: it’s not as if this is the first time that flag’s come down, and I’m not just talking about Bree Newsome’s heroic activism nearly two weeks ago. No, that flag’s HAD to have been brought down before; of this I’m confident.
How so, you ask?
Well, I find myself having to replace my garden flags annually because the sun fades them out. You can’t tell me any flag that was put up in 1961, re-affirmed by a segregation-entrenched legislature in 1962, then moved from atop the statehouse dome to its current place on the building’s grounds in 2000 is still that colorful.
No, any flag up that long, under so many intense South Carolina summers, would more resemble the last and MOST historically relevant flag pertaining the confederacy …
… the bleached-white flag of surrender.