Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

Hurricane Ian won’t be able to push away the ill winds and hot air of  politics spinning out of control.

We are in the midst of what GOP Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, calls the political silly season: “That’s the time just before an election when undeliverable promises and wild accusations become the order of the day,” he recently wrote in an email to constituents. 

“That’s not new. What is different about this silly season, and those in recent elections, is the angry political tribalism being fueled by political campaigns, national media, talk show hosts, pundits and citizens whose keyboard bravery is sometimes spouting vitriol on social media.”

Taylor points to the need for more compromise at state and national levels as one solution.  He’s right, but people in politics – as well as spectators watching at home – need to chill out some and remember how we should treat each other with decency and respect.  We can disagree.  We don’t need to be nasty and mean.  We don’t need to constantly ramp everything up to the next level.  America doesn’t need to super-size its political interactions.

With all of this being said, politicians, pundits, prognosticators and armchair quarterbacks should refrain from charges, countercharges, wild allegations and nasty, backroom stuff.  We need to throw out the “winning at all costs” attitude that has infected politics since the days of South Carolina’s own Lee Atwater.

Still, we need a healthy dose of reality to try to figure out what’s going on to make better sense of our world.  Let’s break it down.

In Washington, President Joe Biden is trying to hold on for dear life as people nag him about whether he’s going to run for office again – even before the results of the midterm elections are known.  If Democrats are thrashed in the midterms, he probably won’t.  If they survive and control at least one chamber of Congress – and no one steps up to keep former President Donald Trump from running again – Biden probably will run again.

In Congress, it looks like Democrats may keep control of the U.S. Senate thanks to poor candidate choices in key races by Republicans.  But control of the U.S. House is up for grabs with the likely outcome being that the GOP narrowly takes back the chamber, in part because GOP-controlled state legislatures in important states were able to gerrymander to favor their Republican candidates.  

But the national gnashing over the Jan. 6 insurrection, the peccadillos of Trump and the overturning of abortion protections may lead some voters to switch allegiances and others to get out to vote in droves.  Two things make predictions difficult here:

Traditional Republicans.  There’s a clear split between MAGA Trump Republicans and old-school, fiscally conservative Ronald Reagan Republicans who seem to be embarrassed by what’s going on in the party now.  In places like MAGA-red Wyoming, remember that U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who has been battling for the rule of law and taking on Trumpsters, got 29 percent of the vote in her failed primary election bid.  If that represents a traditional GOP base, these frustrated voters could peel off and help Democrats keep some control at national and state levels. Or they just won’t vote, which might have the same impact.

Abortion-energized voters.  Women across America are irked that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.  They’re poised to vote in droves.  If they do, they could change outcomes all over in ways that make it difficult for pollsters and pundits to predict.  They’re a stalking horse and may have the keys to the country’s future – if they engage.

In South Carolina because of redistricting, the House will remain in Republican control.  There’s virtually no path that lukewarm Democrats will retake the chamber.  The state Senate isn’t up for grabs for two years.  The only elections of consequence seem to be statewide races for governor and state superintendent.  Traditional wisdom would hold that the GOP is favored, but in this silly season – who knows?

Andy Brack is editor and publisher of the Charleston City Paper. Have a comment?  Send to: feedback@charlestoncitypaper.com.


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City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.