Politics Worthy of Remark

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

By Robert Scott

The dictionary definition of “remarkable” is not just worthy of remark but more than that: unusual or extraordinary. There were several political developments involving South Carolina politicians this past week which were certainly worthy of remark.

One involved a subject which comes up all the time at the state level: public school teacher pay. As is the case nationwide, South Carolina faces a recurring shortage of teachers. Most public-school teachers who embark on a career here don’t last more than a couple of years; their bright-eyed enthusiasm for working with children soon collides with the growing bureaucratic miasma of forms, discipline, and generally unsupportive parents. And low pay amplifies those problems. South Carolina recently increased teachers’ pay, using the windfall federal covid-related payouts to states, but then inflation hit. The outgoing state Superintendent of Education just proposed helping out by asking for a 2 percent raise in teachers’ pay for 2023. Such a request ignores the fact that the cost of living (as evidenced by federal social security payments, among others) just went up by 8.7 percent. Even students in elementary school classrooms can see that the 2 percent request would result in a decline in effective teacher pay by the other 6.7 percent. If we want to retain more teachers, we must give them pay raises that equal if not exceed the cost of living, else they will fall further behind – those, that is, who might remain as teachers if only they could afford to do so.

Another was the Democratic Party deciding to revamp the calendar of states holding Presidential Primaries. You know how all the candidates swarm to New Hampshire for months in advance, as the first state to hold a presidential primary election? Well, now that will be South Carolina, but just for Democratic candidates unless, that is, the Republican Party decides to match. If they do not, then South Carolina news wires will be filled with information about whoever decides to run next time for the Democrats, with relatively little attention given – and that several weeks later – to the Republican candidates. Voters in our state will have the Democrats’ names and promises well memorized before the Republicans even start – if, that is, the Republicans don’t move their South Carolina primary, too. I suspect such a move will happen, bringing even more visibility to South Carolina issues.

And a third was that not only the federal House of Representatives but also the Senate voted overwhelmingly (61 to 36, with 3 not voting) to approve a bill essentially making same-sex and interracial marriages the law of the land. This bill backs up earlier Supreme Court rulings which may be in jeopardy, given the court’s tendency to overturn settled law such as Roe v. Wade. Those voting in favor included 12 Republican Senators, but not either of ours; Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott were numbered among the 36 dissenters.

Those political developments are worthy of remark, but notunusual or extraordinary. They do show, however, the way politics are aligning now that the midterm elections are over. And each provides food for thought. What do voters in Edgefield County think?