Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

It wasn’t too long ago that South Carolina’s congressional caucus carried a lot of clout, punching well above its weight for a state its size. Today? Not so much.

Back in the 1990s when Republicans controlled the U.S. Senate, South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond chaired the powerful Armed Services Committee just a few years after heading the Senate Judiciary Committee. His colleague, Democratic U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings, was a major federal appropriator and, when Democrats were in control, ran the Senate Commerce Committee.

Brack

On the House side, Butler Derrick represented the Aiken-Anderson area of the state for 20 years until retiring in 1995. During his tenure, he was a key player on the House Rules Committee and served on the House Budget Committee, on which Rock Hill colleague John Spratt was ranking Democrat from 1995 until he became chairman 12 years later. Republican Floyd Spence of Lexington, first elected to Congress in 1970, chaired the House National Security Committee from 1995 to 2001. 

Bottom line: Of the eight members of the congressional delegation in the 1990s, five chaired committees or were in the senior leadership. These days, only two of South Carolina’s nine members of Congress have any real influence. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, first elected in 1992, serves as House Majority Whip, the third-ranking leader in the Democratic-led House. In the Senate, Lindsey Graham, first elected in 1994, is the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee and a past chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

The rest of them? They mostly do a lot of yammering. South Carolina’s congressional delegation has fallen from grace to become the Yahoo Caucus.

There’s Republican Jeff Duncan, who represents the Aiken-Anderson area. In recent days, he co-sponsored a measure by a nutjob from Georgia to impeach President Biden after the country’s evacuation of Afghanistan at the end of a 20-year war. Duncan seems to fail to remember the evacuation was carried out because of a settlement negotiated by the man he hero-worships — former President Donald Trump. Even Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky didn’t see removal as a possibility.

Not to be outdone, Congressman Joe “You Lie” Wilson of Lexington called for Biden and others to resign over the withdrawal, despite the successful and quick wartime evacuation of more than 120,000 people. Also on the resignation bandwagon are Upstate Reps. William Timmons and Ralph Norman, as well as Myrtle Beach Rep. Tom Rice, who is struggling to keep his seat after voting with Democrats to impeach Trump in January.

Graham, known as a Trump whisperer who has continuing Florida golf trips with the former president, said his former friend Biden “deserves to be impeached” over Afghanistan. Center-right columnist Kathleen Parker, a Pulitzer Prize winner who lives in Camden, this week described Graham as “the nation’s most-confounding flip-flopper” who is in a continual quest for relevance. 

Then there’s U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, the Daniel Island Republican who made a predictable pilgrimage to Texas this week to visit the U.S.-Mexico border. It was an obvious ploy to grab headlines and throw red meat to the base — just like when she recently wore a holstered pistol to a county GOP meeting. 

None of this yahooism surprises Trav Robertson, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, as South Carolina has devolved from a state with power at the federal level to one that has more in common with lemmings than leadership.

“I never thought that I would see the day that a group of Republicans in South Carolina would support sedition and treason like this group of cowards does,” he said. “They are proving to be intellectually inferior beings who don’t have the ability to help people in this state or bring home the bacon.”

The yahoos don’t have to keep winning. Vote them out.

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse Report. Have a comment? Send to: feedback@statehousereport.com.