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The Unpredictable Political Circus

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A few weeks ago, Alvin Greene became the Democratic senatorial nominee in South Carolina’s June primaries. After he won, he was dismissed by many, including House Majority Whip, Congressman James Clyburn, and the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs. I heard Roland S. Martin interview Greene on The Tom Joyner Morning Show shortly after his win and his interview was very condescending and dismissive as well. Greene has not proven to be the most articulate politician but he did win the party’s nomination. Greene was accused of being a Republican plant by Clyburn and the 10K filing fee was supposedly funneled by the Republican Party. Greene’s win derailed the properly vetted old school politician who campaigned his butt off but lost to an unemployed, unknown, college educated veteran who did not have a website, a campaign headquarter, or fliers.

Last week, Alvin Greene was exonerated by state officials and it was reported by many national media online outlets. However, very few in the Black media have reported that “Greene is clean.” Many Black folks in the media are unwilling to hear the rest of his story. According to The State, South Carolina”s leading newspaper, “State law enforcement officials wrapped up an investigation of Greene’s finances after questions were raised about how he could qualify for indigent defense and afford to pay more than $10,000 to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.”

In this political atmosphere, unpredictable has become the new norm. No candidate labeled a Republican, Conservative, Tea Party member, Democrat, Liberal, or a Progressive can be bagged and tagged and given an office. When I asked several in the national media on Twitter are they going to interview Greene again, the answer was repeatedly, “NO.” If you are wondering like everyone else how was Greene able to fund his filing fee, here is what was uncovered from South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED):

In its investigation, Lloyd said, SLED had access to all Greene’s checking and savings accounts.

Those monthly statements showed Greene, 32, had a monthly balance last fall of several thousand dollars in his Bank of Clarendon checking account in Manning, Lloyd said.

Last October, Greene received a $5,843 check from the U.S. Department of Defense in connection with his discharge from the military last year.

“That brought him up to more than $8,200,”Lloyd said.

Greene continued having a checking account balance of about that amount into March, when Greene received a federal income tax refund of $2,173 and a state tax refund of $932, Lloyd said.

“At that point, he had more than $11,400 in his account,” Lloyd said.

In mid-March, Greene walked into the S.C. Democratic Party headquarters in Columbia and produced a check written on his personal account that eventually made him a candidate, Lloyd said.

“We have accounted for all the money that he used to pay his $10,400 filing fee,” said Lloyd.

Green is representing the sentiments of many across the country who believe that career politicians are not voting in their constituents’ interests and think they can do a better job. Remember the unknown in 2007 who declared he wanted to be President? Many laughed back then as well. He was not as polished as the seasoned Hillary Clinton and was laughed at by many in the Black and White establishment.

Only a few embraced now-President Obama’s historic campaign initially. No matter how one may feel about the President now, he was an unknown who captured the imagination of young people, independents, and moderate conservatives who were sick of the same old thing. In South Carolina, the state has been a political mess for sometime. Many of my friends in South Carolina are asking, “What can be any worse than married Governor Sanford crying on TV after breaking up with his Brazilian girlfriend?” They are not discussing the economy, education, and jobs; politics in South Carolina have become circus-like and clowns are supposed to entertain you, not solve real issues. If electing a politician who looks traditional and who gives you all the right rhetoric yet you end up with a buffoon, why not start out with someone who makes you scratch your head from the moment he opens his mouth and the state may end up with a real politician for the people. Can it get any worst?

As for Tennessee’s circus auditions, I attend the Gubernatorial statewide debate at Belmont University on Monday. Belmont rolled out the red carpet and treated bloggers like “real” journalists. For all of Belmont’s preparation, WSMV’s stage set up gave the debate a big tent atmosphere. Folks, it was a spectacle. Up and down in the musical chairs, rapid fire questions that the candidates were only given 30 seconds to answers and a ringing silver bell that represented the timer. Mercy, I am still hearing the dinging sound days later.

Zack Wamp was channeling his inner television evangelist role and spent most of his time saying hello and goodbye to the TV audience. Bill Haslam kept his cool while others wanted to know about his taxes but he did not give up the map to his treasure chest. Mike McWherter seemed unfamiliar being in front of the camera and was concerned about camera angles. I realized later it was his orangey makeup and the blue shirt that was throwing him off as he looked into the TV lens. Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey wore his signature shiny boots and broke into 30 second sermons at every opportunity. No one had time to say “Amen” or “Preach it, bro.” In that precious hour, Tennesseans who were undecided were to walk away more educated about who may represent our state as Governor. Hmm. We learned more about God, Arizona, and intelligent design than about solving real issues in Tennessee. We are in trouble.

As for folks of color, I only saw a few sprinkles in the audience. Belmont University recruited the ones that were in the town hall section. One woman of color was given an opportunity to ask a question that was chosen by WSMV. No Black media was represented at the debate other than the Tennessee Tribune and not one staffer of any of the candidates was a person of color. NOT ONE. Elected Democrats and Republicans who attended the event did not bring people of color with them as guests.

Now, I don’t know by you but this is disturbing. I live-tweeted the event from the hall. I want to know who will be the next governor. Waiting to be introduced after a win in November will be a joke. If people of color are not being taken seriously enough to be reached out too by at least having minority staffers, how do you think the political appointments, agency jobs, and the cabinet is going to look in January? Being disconnected from the issues regarding jobs, economic development, and education that have an adverse affect on the community of color the most, has proven to wipe out many of the gains that people of color have made over the last forty years. Although Tennessee has become more diverse, we are seeing fewer people of color involved in the political process, including political campaigns. Is this by choice? People of color cannot afford to sit on the sideline in ANY election. Many are not following the king-maker rules anymore in Tennessee politics but people of color are not even being invited to be a court jester. I am beginning to think Alvin Greene is on to something. Early voting starts in Tennessee on Friday, July 16. Everyone should participate in the election process. I hope to see you at the polls.

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About Genma Holmes

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    Genma, thanks for contributing this article. I’m relieved to learn that Alvin M. Greene has been exonerated, at least regarding the source of his $10,000 filing fee. I note, however, that you don’t mention what the media reported as felony obscenity charges pending against him stemming from his November 2009 arrest for allegedly showing a pornographic picture to an 18-year-old female University of South Carolina student and inviting himself to her room. She responded by calling campus police. In your June 25, 2010 BC article, “Local Politics from Around the Country,” you alluded to this as Mr. Greene “flashing a little porn,” which suggests you don’t take the charges seriously. Is that a fair conclusion?

    In any case, what prompts me to comment is your contention that “Green is representing the sentiments of many across the country who believe that career politicians are not voting in their constituents’ interests and think they can do a better job. Remember the unknown in 2007 who declared he wanted to be President? Many laughed back then as well. He was not as polished as the seasoned Hillary Clinton and was laughed at by many in the Black and White establishment. … No matter how one may feel about the President now, he was an unknown who captured the imagination of young people, independents, and moderate conservatives who were sick of the same old thing.”

    What a false analogy! Mr. Greene is running for the U.S. Senate, not for President. He is a graduate from the University of South Carolina with a degree in political science, and is a U.S. military veteran who served for 13 years until receiving an honorable but involuntary discharge in 2009. He has been unemployed ever since. (Does anyone know what he did to warrant an honorable but involuntary discharge? I can’t recall ever hearing of such a thing, but the “involuntary” part sounds fishy.)

    By contrast, when Barack Obama first campaigned for the U.S. Senate, his background included Columbia University (B.A.), Harvard Law School (J.D.), three years as a Chicago community organizer, 12 years as professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, three terms as an Illinois State Senator, and published author. Two years before announcing his U.S. Senate bid, Obama commissioned a poll to assess his prospects. He created a campaign committee, began raising funds and lined up political media consultant David Axelrod, and only then formally announced his candidacy. In the March 2004 primary election, he won in an unexpected landslide. Considering his résumé and preparation, his win shouldn’t have been unexpected.

    As for Mr. Obama being “an unknown,” as you claim, when he ran for President, he was in fact a recognized rising star in the Democratic party, having delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, an appearance on the national stage witnessed by 9.1 million viewers.

    For you to compare Alvin Greene to Barack Obama is nonsensical. By the time of his U.S. Senate campaign, Obama was an eloquent, accomplished and persuasive speaker. At this same stage in his career, Alvin Greene remains as inarticulate as a sharecropper.

    Nevertheless, you write, “If electing a politician who looks traditional and who gives you all the right rhetoric yet you end up with a buffoon, why not start out with someone who makes you scratch your head from the moment he opens his mouth and the state may end up with a real politician for the people. Can it get any worst [sic]?”

    If you mean, can it get any worse than Alvin Greene, I frankly don’t see how. Of course, the voters of South Carolina are entitled to elect him if they so choose, and they certainly don’t need advice from an outsider like me. But you must be pretty jaded and cynical, Genma, to think that Alvin Greene would make a creditable U.S. Senator. I’m all in favor of truth in packaging, but a pre-certified buffoon is hardly an improvement over deceptively polished career politicians who reveal their buffoonery only upon being elected to office.

  • Baronius

    Greene isn’t a substantially worse speaker than Obama. But the interesting thing about this story is the way Democrats can level charges of fraud against Republicans without a shred of evidence, and suffer no political consequences.

  • John Wilson

    “…you must be pretty jaded and cynical, Genma, to think that Alvin Greene would make a creditable U.S. Senator.”

    Not a very high bar, alas.

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