I attended the final gubernatorial debate at Furman University last night.
Some random observations:
McAlister Auditorium had tumbleweeds blowing through it as the debate’s few attendees huddled close to the stage. It seemed that those few students attending were solely there to receive a one hour CLP credit.
As the candidates filed onto the stage, a few students did cheer. These were not College Republicans but rather a small group of hazy supporters rooting for the United Citizen’s candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves, whose primary campaign platform is the legalization and proliferation of marijuana.
Though the debate was about education and healthcare, I would have asked each candidate to speculate on the steep rise of voter apathy. Remember, Greenville had a political rally in 2008 that drew 7,000 people. Six years later, these candidates could not pull a 100.
Reeves solution for every question was to legalize marijuana. How can students improve test scores? Legalize pot. Should we expand Medicaid? Only if it covers weed.
Libertarian Steve French held . . . you know . . . libertarian beliefs. He also liked Reeves marijuana position . . . a lot. He was the only candidate to reference “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”
Tom Ervin raised several good points that need answers but never raised his anger level. Which is a shame since the only reason to run as an independent is because you are mad.
Sen. Vincent Sheheen hit Gov. Haley hard about agency performance, most particularly the death of children under the watch of DSS. But like Ervin, he did not seem particularly outraged. He did seem sad, but then he is in the General Assembly.
Gov. Nikki Haley’s defense mechanisms were in good working order, so she did not sustain much damage from the other four candidates. She wore a red dress but it was lost in the eye-ripping red backdrop behind the candidates. Even my eyes felt red by the end of the debate.
For the life of me, I cannot remember what any of them said about their vision for South Carolina. Maybe it was that haze drifting from the back of the auditorium . . .
That could also explain my red eyes . . .
Finally, back in the old days, Southern political debates were high drama. Our candidates, fueled by bootleg whisky and good Baptist outrage, were known for their energized rhetorical skills, if not necessarily their knowledge. They would have laughed these stoner wannabes off the stage.
Nowadays, debates just resemble cheaply made game shows where no one wins.