South Carolina Politics & Government

South Carolina Politics & Government

South Carolina Politics & Government

South Carolina Politics & Government

Synopsis

Like several other southern states, South Carolina's political tradition has pri-marily been that of its Democratic party: between 1920 and 1950 no Republican candidate for governor, the U. S. Senate, or U. S. House of Representatives received more than 5 percent of the popular vote. In discussing the state's history, Blease Graham Jr. and William V. Moore show how internal politics have traditionally been determined by race, class, and region, with an unusually wide acceptance of aristocratic rule.

The uncompromising John C. Calhoun, one of South Carolina's most famous congressmen, warning of the dire consequences of giving way to democracy, led the state as the first to secede from the union in 1860. After the war, with a new constitution, South Carolina's government became more democratic; however, "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman, through his agrarian Reform Party, appealed to white Democrats and small farmers in an effort to eliminate all but whites from the state's politics.

The Civil Rights movement, industrial renovation, and shifts in South Carolina's economy have gradually altered the state's political culture. The racist politics of the post-Civil War era have slowly been chipped away by federal and state initiatives. Long dominated by its legislature (itself often dominated by alumni in Congress), state government has gradually accorded more power to the governor. No less significant, South Carolina has gradually relinquished its antipathy toward the federal government, recognizing the need for cooperation. Despite changes, the direction of state policy continues to be primarily in the hands of the business elite.

South Carolina Politics and Government outlines the ways that South Carolinians and their long-standing traditionalistic political culture will continue to be challenged by economic and social changes in the future. Besides providing the historical background of South Carolina's society and government, Graham and Moore review recent elections and party competition; the state's legislative, executive, and judicial branches; and policies in areas relating to local government, education, and public safety.

Excerpt

John Kincaid

The purpose of this series is to provide intelligent and interesting books on the politics and governments of the fifty American states, books that are of value not only to the student of government but also to the general citizens who want greater insight into the past and present civic life of their own states and of other states in the federal union. the role of the states in governing America is among the least known of all the 83,217 governments in the United States. the national media focus attention on the federal government in Washington, D.C., and local media focus attention on local government. Meanwhile, except when there is a scandal or a proposed tax increase, the workings of state government remain something of a mystery to many citizens—out of sight, out of mind.

In many respects, however, the states have been, and continue to be, the most important governments in the American political system. They are the main building blocks and chief organizing governments of the whole system. the states are the constituent governments of the federal union, and it is through the states that citizens gain representation in the national government. the national government is one of limited, delegated powers; all other powers are possessed by the states and their citizens. At the same time, the states are the empowering governments for the nation's 83,166 local governments—counties, municipalities, townships, school districts, and special districts. As such, states provide for one of the most essential and ancient elements of freedom and democracy, the right of local self-government.

Although for many citizens the most visible aspects of state government are state universities, some of which are the most prestigious in the world, and state highway patrol officers, with their radar guns and handy ticket books, state governments provide for nearly all domestic public services.

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