Joe Wilson does other politically challenged states a favor.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Sept. 12 2009 11:06 AM

Thank God for South Carolina

Joe Wilson does other politically challenged states a favor.

(Continued from Page 1)

South Carolina and Idaho are a world apart in terms of demographics, economics, and culture. Their greatest similarity is in one-party dominance of national elections. Each state has gone Republican in 11 of the last 12 presidential elections. No state has gone 12 for 12. In a typical year, the Republican margin is larger in Idaho, because the Democratic high-water mark is about 10 points higher in South Carolina. But in the liberal donnybrook of 1972, Nixon's margin of victory in South Carolina was five points wider.

Both states also know how it feels to be looked down upon. Earlier this year, South Carolina's attorney general tried to force Craigslist to drop its adult listings. TechCrunch summed up the reaction from the company and the blogosphere: "If it really came down to choosing between South Carolina and Craigslist, how many people would rather have South Carolina?"

So other states shouldn't feel too much schadenfreude at South Carolinians' expense. As the president put it, we all make mistakes—and this summer of town halls showed that no state has a monopoly on bad manners. Those of us who have known scorn understand what the good people of South Carolina are going through—and can be sure our turn will come again.

Yet as historians seem delighted to point out, South Carolina has spent two centuries building a reputation of outspoken rebellion, from the nullification crisis of 1832 to antebellum caning in 1856 to secession in 1860. By the time Idaho joined the Union, South Carolina had already tried twice to leave it. For the people of Idaho, at least, Joe Wilson's lapse was a reminder that despite all the bad press we've earned in recent years, our outliers are mere nouveau fringe. South Carolina had such a head start, the rest of us are still playing catch-up.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 2:57 PM ISIS Helps Snuff Out Conservative Opposition to Government Funding Bill
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.