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.

Bruce Reed, who was President Clinton's domestic policy adviser, is CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council and co-author with Rahm Emanuel of The Plan: Big Ideas for Change in America.E-mail him at Read his disclosure here.



The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.