Do what Cindi Scoppe says, or I’ll tell her to gossip about you to The Guardian

When Cindi Scoppe joined the editorial board in 1997, I discovered that all of a sudden I didn’t have to write a lot of the state politics editorials that I would have written in the past — because, after the briefest of conversations, she wrote them they way I would have. This freed me up for important stuff — like blogging.

That did not change when I left the paper. I don’t have to write yet another piece urging every thoughtful, conscientious South Carolinian to vote in Saturday’s primary, because she’s already done it, using more or less the very words I would have used. Excerpts:

If you care who our next president is, vote Saturday

Saturday’s Republican presidential primary is our speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace moment.

Sure, we get to vote in November. But, at the risk of committing civic heresy, how you and I vote then isn’t going to matter. Yes, yes, everyone who’s paying attention and cares about our republic needs to vote, simply because it’s our duty to do so. But we all know that the Republican candidate is going to carry our state. And all of our Electoral College votes are going to him, whether he wins by a landslide or just eight votes.

So if our vote in November isn’t going to make any difference, and the Democratic nominee already has been chosen by default, then our only opportunity to participate in the election of the next president is to vote on Saturday.

This idea makes some partisans nervous. Indignant, even.

Some Upstate Republicans are so opposed to our open primaries that they sued their state in federal court, arguing that South Carolina is violating their right to freedom of assembly by allowing people who won’t take a blood oath to the party to sully their primary; they worry that independents will stymie their efforts to wrest party control from the reasonable officials they dismiss as Republicans in name only…

Such paranoia is not merely a Republican affliction. In 2004 the state Democratic Party announced it would require voters to sign a loyalty oath to vote in its presidential primary, but wisely backed down before primary day. The only reason we won’t hear from paranoid Democrats this year is that they don’t have a presidential primary to keep pure…

(T)he candidates who do better in open primaries tend to be the ones who can appeal to the sensible center of our nation — that is, the ones the partisans would be better off nominating if they want to win the general election. But the partisans are right about one thing: People who look at the world the way they do shouldn’t vote in the other party’s primary…

35 thoughts on “Do what Cindi Scoppe says, or I’ll tell her to gossip about you to The Guardian

  1. Juan Caruso

    “…our only opportunity to participate in the election of the next president is to vote on Saturday.” – Brad

    Thought we might find this interesting after Saturday’s tally.:

    SC Primary voters 2008:

    Dems – 532,227
    Reps – 431,034
    Total 963,261

    SC Primary voters 2012:
    estimate includes 3% population increase (since 2008)

    Reps – 443,965 est’d.

    Mostly Dems
    legal ?)
    legal indep’s?)
    nonresidents ?)
    deceased ?) ——–
    Obama supporters ?)

    Actual total

    Difference ________

    100 X Difference / 548,194 = %
    The percentage of (mostly) Dems
    voting in Republican primary

    Will it be an insignificant number as Bud no doubt predicts?

  2. Mike

    But I am for the seated President why should I care about these guys. Should I go an vote for the most likely to loose, Ron Paul. What should a guy like me do?

  3. Brad

    What a guy like you should do is:
    — First, recognize that there is a chance that your preferred candidate will not win in the fall, and that the Republican nominee will.
    — Vote for the Republican you like most, or dislike least.

    By doing that, you’re doing your best to make sure the country has the best president under the circumstances, according to your best judgment. That’s your duty as a voter.

  4. doug ross

    And don’t worry about whether you agree with what the candidate stands for…just vote. This isn’t about voting for someone you like, only for voting for the Republican no other Republican would vote for.

  5. Brad

    No, it isn’t, Doug. Not even close to it.

    Why do you always do that? Why, when I explain my position to you as sincerely as I possibly can — and in this case we’re talking about a core, long-held belief for me — do you turn around and say that what I’m saying is something else entirely?

    That is not a good-faith way to discuss anything with anybody. And it’s a fundamental root of misunderstanding and hostility in our political world today: No! Those people are liars! They don’t mean what they say! They really mean this horrible thing…

    That’s just wrong, Doug.

  6. bud

    I dunno. Brad and Cindi make a point, sort of. But really how can I in good conscience vote for any of these guys unless it’s merely to help weaken the GOP brand come November. This really is a sorry bunch. I’ll vote for Ron Paul for 2 reasons: First, I think he will help weaken the GOP overall by creating a great deal of friction between the neocons, old-line country club sorts and the libertarian wing. He can’t possibly unite all these disparate factions enough to actually win the election. Second, as I’ve pointed out before Paul at least gets it right on some of the issues. Rick Santorum is frankly wrong on everything. Newt Gingrich is far too hateful and petty. Mitt Romney is unacceptable on so many levels I couldn’t begin to enumerate them here. But this whole income tax debacle underscores how very dangerous this man would be to working class Americans. And of course Rick Perry is too much like W. How many people would actually support a return to Iraq? Brad maybe?

  7. Brad

    Oh, come on, Bud! It’s attitudes like yours that cause people like Doug to be so cynical. It is absolutely unconscionable to vote to “weaken the GOP brand come November.”

    My God. You have an obligation to increase the chance that the person elected in November is the best president we can get, or at least the least objectionable. An absolute obligation. And no vote should be wasted doing anything else — especially not what you just said. Attitudes such as that will be the death of our democracy, not to mention confirming all the worst things that your partisan opponents believe about you.

    Be better than that.

    At least I can assure Doug that my vote will cancel yours out. I’ll be voting for the strongest, or at least the least weak, candidate. And so will most people.

  8. Doug Ross


    So why did you say you wouldn’t likely tell us who you would vote for? I mean if you think one of the Republicans is the second best choice to be President of the United States, why not tell us what factors lead to that decision? You had no problem comparing and contrasting Obama and McCain. Suddenly, the man who has an opinion on everything gets laryngitis?

    And, like I’ve said, if you vote for someone on Saturday and then turn around and tell us you won’t be voting for him in November because of X, Y, and Z then you are just playing around. I’ve never cast a vote for anyone who I didn’t think should hold the position.

  9. Doug Ross

    Cynicism = voting for people you believe in;

    Patriotism : voting for the least worst candidate whose policies are 180 degrees from the person you will vote for later on

  10. David

    “Sure, we get to vote in November. But, at the risk of committing civic heresy, how you and I vote then isn’t going to matter.”

    I continue to be confused about when my vote supposedly does not matter and when it does.

  11. Doug Ross

    “However I do vote come Saturday, I doubt that I will share the decision with y’all — because I won’t feel good about it, and won’t feel like defending it…”

    And I’m the cynic?

  12. Steven Davis

    Why is bud even bothering voting on Saturday? Voting for him in November takes about 3 seconds, because it’s clear that he’s a party line voter. Come November he will not vote for anyone on the ballot that he’s voting for on Saturday.

  13. Steven Davis

    Maude – That’s the excuse the Democrats used when Alvin Greene was elected… that Republicans voted for him in their primary.

  14. Karen McLeod

    @Bud. Pretend for a moment that Obama will lose (God forbid!) Then the question becomes, who is going to do the least harm to this country that I love? Vote for that person.

  15. Brad

    Doug, no one is 180 degrees from anyone. That is an illusion created by the Big Lie imposed on us by the political parties.

    I’m not even 180 degrees from Ron Paul. We agree on abortion.

    And the candidate I’m thinking of voting for is very much like Obama. The things I like about him are like the things I like about Obama. And if things calm down long enough for me to explain all that, I’m going to over the next couple of days.

    With me, it’s never simple. With me, it’s never “Here’s the guy.” As I’ve said many times over the years, an endorsement isn’t about who it is; it’s about the reasons why. So I’m not going to tell you who I’m voting for until I’ve had the time to set out the reasoning. And with you, Doug, I probably won’t persuade, because a) you seem to live to disagree with me, and b) you are about a laundry-list enumeration of positions on issues. I am not. I’m about character. I’m about the sort of person who will be making the decisions, not about pre-judging the decisions.

  16. Mark Stewart

    This discussion feels like conversations with my ex; there’s a black whole blockage creating the cognitive dissonance.

  17. Brad

    The whole thing about telling people who I’m voting for — as transparent as I am, I remain ambivalent about that. But I fail to see what’s “cynical” about it.

    For instance, I’ve never said who I voted for for president in the general election in 2008. But you can look at what I said, and figure it out.

    I’m always VERY candid and transparent about what I think. But that’s different from how I vote. One is the what; the other is the who. And people react so passionately, so emotionally, to the WHO that they don’t even listen to the what, and that bugs me.

    To explain: I may have all sorts of reasons I like Obama, and I will say so. I’ll point out where I agree with him — and where I disagree. And while people might disagree with me, there’s still a slight chance that they’ll listen. But if I say, “I’m voting for Obama,” then that’s it. That’s all people hear, and the great majority of people in South Carolina will never listen to what you say about anything ever again.

    Just for an example.

    And I want my blog to be about ideas, not about other people’s emotions.

    Sometimes I like to tell for whom I voted, of course. Depends on the circumstances. For instance, I felt strongly enough about it that I told everyone I took a Democratic ballot in the 2010 primaries so that I could vote for Sheheen. My point being that the GOP field had gone so far off the rails.

    But it’s always a judgment call.

    When I wrote that I doubted I would say who I will vote for, I was in a bad mood. With Huntsman having pulled out so precipitately, I was feeling bad about the whole field. Whomever I voted for, he would be the least bad. I’d be reluctantly settling. And I didn’t want people saying for the rest of my life, “Oh, he’s the guy who voted for so-and-so in 2012.” I didn’t want to be identified with it.

    But now I’m leaning the other way, for a lot of the reasons discussed in this thread. So once I have an hour or so to get all my thoughts together, I might say who I’m going with.

  18. bud

    Brad in this country we have an obligation to vote our conscience however we see fit. You don’t have to agree or understand my thinking but I’ll be damned if I’m going to vote for one of these guys based on the logic you want me to use.

    Let’s look at it this way. There may come a time when you don’t find any of the candidates even remotely acceptable. Then you’d understand what I’m saying. Suppose instead of the five guys left standing we have these five instead:

    Ron Paul
    Donald Trump
    John Edwards
    Mark Sanford
    Nikki Haley

    How would you vote in that situation?

  19. bud

    At the end of the day Ron Paul is the least objectionable of the now four remaining candidates with Rick Perry dropping out. So I guess I am voting the way Brad suggests in spite of my prickly response above.

  20. Brad

    Thank you, Bud! That really encourages me to keep believing in people — in you, anyway.

    But, boy — that was a cruel hypothetical you offered a moment ago. Thank the Lord we are not faced with a choice like that. There are a couple of people in this contest I like a lot more than those.

  21. Brad

    Oh, and to answer your question — I might not be able to vote in that hypothetical. Just as I couldn’t bring myself to vote in the GOP primary in 2010, even though it meant being disenfranchised on several down-ballot offices. All of the GOP candidates for governor had disqualified themselves, for me, in the campaigns they had run.

    But that is a very, very rare situation. I wrote about it at the time, because it was so very weird for me. I had never before seen a situation like that, since I had come home to SC in 1987. It was a reflection of the extent to with the GOP in SC had gone off the rails since 2008.

    This primary is critical in that regard. If the party goes with Romney, it will have righted itself and become the GOP I have known. If not… if it goes with Gingrich… I don’t know…

  22. Mark Stewart

    I forget the primary/general rule; can’t one vote in the primary for all the down-ticket candidates (while abstaining on the Governor), and then vote in the general election for whomever one wished as Governor?

    Wouldn’t that have solved your problem?

  23. Maude Lebowski

    So the answer to my question is yes? I’ve had no luck finding the answer on all the sc vote dot org type websites. I’ve been told that if I vote Saturday that I’ll only have the option of voting for republicans in November, but that doesn’t sound right to me. I know that SC is an open primary state, but I’m not sure exactly what that means…

  24. Brad


    What you do on Saturday means NOTHING in terms of your future voting. It does not limit you in any way.

    If there were a Democratic primary at the same time (or a week later, as four years ago, which was ridiculous), you wouldn’t get to vote in that. But that doesn’t apply this year.

    Here is the only kind of situation in which your options are limited by the choice you make… In a STATE primary (like the ones we’ll have in June), you have to pick a Democratic ballot or a Republican one. Say you vote in the Democratic primary. But then, in the Republican primary, no candidate in a particular race gets more than 50 percent of the vote. So there will be a Republican primary runoff in that particular race. But since you voted in the Democratic primary, you can’t vote in that Republican runoff.

    For instance, since I departed from custom (being a Lexington Countian) and chose a Democratic primary ballot in 2010, which Vincent Sheheen won outright, I was barred from voting in the GOP runoff that pitted Nikki Haley against Gresham Barrett.

    Which, I believe, is wrong. I think we should do like Louisiana and get to choose among all the candidates, regardless of party.

    But hey, at least, thank God, we con’t have to register by party in this state. You do have a somewhat limited freedom to choose.

  25. Doug Ross


    I don’t live to disagree with you. I disagree with you because I have lived and continue to live a very different life from yours. It has worked for me.

  26. Brad

    So you DON’T go around paraphrasing Descartes: “I disagree with Brad, therefore I am.”

    And I apologize for so carelessly writing something that sounded so egocentric — as though any other human being would define himself in terms of how he relates to me. That didn’t come out right…

  27. Hooter

    I wouldn’t choose any one of the GOP clown posse for dog catcher. Neither your logic nor Cindi’s makes sense to me.

    Usually, I agree with Cindi, though.

  28. Karen McLeod

    What’s voting in a primary have to do with voting in the general election? One votes in one of the primaries for whomever one believes to be best among whichever choices are offered in that primary. In the general election, one votes for whomever one believes to be the best choice offered there. Different choices, different elections.

  29. Hooter

    The good news is that the “least worst alternative” in the general election has already kept the economy from sliding over the edge, completed the withdrawal from Iraq, and nailed Bin Laden.

  30. Maude Lebowski

    Thanks Brad. I completely understand your logic on why I should vote Saturday. It could be the first vote I’ve ever cast for a Republican. Sigh.

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