Southern Hospitality and Politics

Last October, in my capacity as a legislative staffer, I Dm’d a legislator from the Charleston area who was friend with the one I work for about meeting about a bill. He had, at a fundraiser the previous June, promised to support a bill that repealed the additional registration fees for electric vehicles the Republicans had enacted in 2017. He didn’t respond to my DM so DM’d him again asking him why he ghosted the first DM. His response was to screenshot the DMs and send them to my employer because he was shocked that I had accused him of ghosting.

One of the reasons Southern politics doesn’t move is the same reasons South Korean pilots crashed their planes in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outsiders”. If accusing someone of ghosting a DM is considered inappropriate then nothing can get done and we’ll circle back to that. The popular conception is that Southern states are backwards because they’re just conservative and unscientific. Yet, the real reasons are a bit sadder. When it comes to capitalism and religious conservatism, look at Dubai or the rest of the Gulf petrostates. They believe the universe is 6,000 years old, women should obey and submit to their husbands, and in free market capitalism.

If merely relgious fundamentalism and unfettered capitalism were the reasons the South is backward, then there would be no difference between the UAE and Mississippi. Southern politicians get elected as metaphorical billboards for their other jobs (in part because they barely get paid for being politicians) and spend their careers doing nothing except having a good time. Going to the College of Charleston, it was all of the “animal house” and keg parties of a traditional college without almost any of the hippie or hispter arts, science, and intellectualism. It was all of the alcohol, drugs, and sex of college with none of the intelligence or creativity.

South Carolina politics is all of the good old boy, schmoozing, back-slapping, and sweet-talking with no idealism, compassion, moral convictions, or even pet projects. They’re not corrupt in the sense that they take bribes. Some do but most don’t. They’re C-list celebrities in gerrymandered districts who, mostly, can’t lose their elections and are never held accountable for promises they break or problems they don’t try to fix. What they lack in a desire to improve the world, they compensate for in their massive egos. Because this is the South and because they have huge egos, they have a bro code of politeness where they don’t disrespect one another. That is why the legislator I DM’d couldn’t stand being accused of ghosting.

A normal person would just respond but that man had the ego of a hyper-fragile mafioso and any slight was too much for him. He didn’t have the humility or the balls to simply type out a reply. He could have even met me for coffee and discussed the details of the bill like a normal person. In fact, doing those sorts of things are what make politics work. The wheels and gears of the political machine cannot function if politicians are too fragile to reply to staffers and have their feelings overly hurt when accused of something as relatively minor as ghosting a DM. They’re manbabies who are too thin-skinned to handle slight discomfort and frat bros who spend their free time drinking, doping, fraternizing, and making sweet-talk. What they are not is effective public servants, in any capacity, whatsoever.

I got a minimum wage bill which I wrote sent to the docket this past week. If it passes, I’ll have reduced the poverty of tens of thousands of people. To get it done, I had to be much more of a hardass than I prefer to be. Naturally, I am a gentle and kind person but in politics, I can seldom exhibit that. The few victories I have won have come from being assertive and sometimes insanely mean. I don’t work for them, however, and their feelings are secondary to me; I work for Almighty God, humanity, especially the powerless, and the environment.

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