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Sam and Leslie Skardon

Are you even more pissed off than usual about the persistent inequities in South Carolina? Who isn’t? Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, says the Evangelist, for they shall drink their fill. But when? It feels like we’ve been beating our heads for years against that stone-hearted relic called the General Assembly, just trying to get justice to flow.

Here’s something you can do right now that is meaningful and effective. Vote for Sam Skardon for Senate District 41 in the Democratic Primary.

It’s a testament to Sam’s character, his readiness to be a leader, that his response to these last several days is more measured and constructive than my own. You can read it here.

Senate District 41 is maybe the most flippable of all districts in the state. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Republicans have engineered nearly every seat to be “safe” for incumbents–of both the minority and majority parties–and impossibly uncompetitive for challengers. As you can see on the map, Senate 41 was gerrymandered to be safe for Republicans, and they’ve held it for a generation.

The big chunk of West Ashley carved out of Senate 41 and grafted to the peninsular Senate District 42 includes several Black neighborhoods, like DuWap, Maryville, and East Oak Forest.

But the neighborhoods of James Island and West Ashley are the edge of a huge, rising tide of people sick to death of the Old South. In 2018, Democratic Congressman Joe Cunningham won in Senate District 41 by more than fifteen percentage points. He had a simple message: Lowcountry Before Party.

This year is a bigger challenge, because it’s a presidential election year. If we’re going to get someone who cares about justice to represent us, we’ve got to nominate a candidate who can dislodge the cemented Republican Establishment.

Sam Skardon and Congressman Lewis

Skardon cut his political teeth working as an aide for Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta. He is about the most political savvy newcomer the Democrats have introduced this year–anywhere in the state. He can win a general election.

Sam Skardon is it. If anyone can flip this district, it’s Sam. I invite you to watch his Porch Chat with Colleen Condon to get to know this Academic Magnet graduate and his platform. He’s an MBA from Georgetown University whose business is helping entrepreneurs in disadvantaged communities reach the American Dream. The video takes just ten minutes. Or visit Sam’s issues page. You’ll see how close to his heart are the social justice issues important to readers of this blog.

“We just have to elect people who want to be leaders.”

Let’s take just one thing–Medicaid expansion. To qualify for Medicaid in South Carolina, you’ve got to be a kid, a parent of a kid, pregnant, elderly, or disabled; and of course you have to be poor. When legislature says poor, it means dirt poor. A single mother of two kids cannot make more than about $1600/month. God forbid you make $1700/month, and good luck finding an apartment in Charleston that will leave you a hundred-twenty-five bucks a week for food, clothes, tooth paste, bus fare, a cell phone, and water. You can forget about childcare. Forget about a baseball glove for your eight-year-old.

Blessed are the poor, says the Evangelist, while the pharisees in the state house whisper their own holy text, let the poor inherit heaven: here they take their chances. If you’re an able-bodied adult working at McDonald’s, you can’t afford insurance even through Obamacare, but the Republicans say to hell with you. They don’t give a crap if you break an arm or catch COVID-19.

Almost 100,000 South Carolinians have “no realistic access to health care insurance,” and the never-quite-enough budgets of another 200,000 people would be helped out tremendously if South Carolina, like most states in the country, expanded Medicaid. Those relics who salaam to the Tea Party in Columbia are passing up more than one billion dollars a year from the federal government. Tax money we’re already contributing to other states’ health care that we’re not getting back here in South Carolina! That’s an expensive point of dishonor, their stupid, quixotic, uncharitable, miserly, desperate attempt to keep on not helping the poor.^

“A stroke of the pen,” Skardon says. That’s all it would take to do justice to the poor, if only the legislature would sign off on it.

I’ve got 94 other theses in my reformation, but this one alone is enough to vote for Sam Skardon.

^see Healthinsurance.org for these figures.

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