So far, the 2012 presidential election hasn't interested me the way that past elections have. I have taken a "come back to me when the Republicans have winnowed out the crowd a bit" approach. The winnowing has begun, and now it's on to South Carolina.
People who don't understand South Carolina or the states that make up the southeast are often content to paint in broad, stereotypical brush strokes that involve images from the slaveholding past and Civil Rights era ugliness. Outsiders tend to think of Southerners as ignorant, gun-toting, sweet tea drinking rednecks who tend towards obesity and snake handling religions.
As with all stereotypes, some of this is true. But especially in the past twenty years, the region has changed substantially, with more Hispanic people settling in, with more manufacturing coming to the region, with more retirees from the north, with universities achieving national prominence.
South Carolina doesn't always behave like political pundits would have us believe. Jesse Jackson won the Democratic primary in 1988. This is the state that recently elected a female, a child of Indian immigrants, to the governor's office. I wouldn't expect that behavior from a state that's thought of as so conservative.
I'm still not as interested in political discussions as I once was. I'm tired of the outrage of others and exhausted by their despair. I tend to steer away from politics unless we can have a conversation that will leave me inspired. And so far, although it's early in the race, I'm not feeling inspired.
I still believe that big government can accomplish some things that we can't do on the local level. I'm not one of those cranky people who thinks that big government is the problem. I see problems on all levels of government. I also see potential. But right now, I'm not seeing much in the way of solid solutions--not from candidates, not from colleagues, not from essayist and analysts, not from government workers.
Maybe I don't see those ideas because I live in a part of the state of Florida where Republicans rarely visit. Our ad time costs so much to buy that I can watch T.V. in peace, undisturbed by political commercials. Maybe if I lived in Charleston or Columbia, South Carolina, I'd know more about the ideas and plans that Republican candidates have. Maybe I'd know more about what they'd do if elected.
I doubt it.
Maybe those ideas will come. After all, it's early yet.
And yet, it feels so very late.
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