The question of whether the Confederate Battle flag should remain on the grounds of the state capital is now a campaign issue. Well, it’s always been an issue since it was removed from atop the State House in 2000. Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Vincent Sheheen, is running on a platform that includes the permanent removal of the flag.
I want to highlight this issue because I believe that the future of South Carolina is what this governor’s campaign should be about, but more importantly than that, what the business of this Statehouse should be about,. If we’re going to move forward, we’re going to have new leadership and new symbols and emblems to lead us in that direction.
He may not win and it may be this particular issue that sways voters. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. That a candidate for one of the two major parties (and for whatever reason) is campaigning on this issue suggests that we have reached a threshold among South Carolina voters when it comes to this divisive subject. No one should be surprised by this given the decision in 2000 and the broader push among white and black Southerners to remove Confederate Battle flags from public spaces. Regardless of whatever else is going on in South Carolina, we can state with confidence that the flag’s days are numbered in South Carolina.
Heritage groups can raise as many flags as they want on private property, but this will never be an even swap in terms of its meaning and significance. Raising large Confederate flags along Southern highways and other places represents the values of the individuals responsible and no more. The removal of flags from public places, on the other hand, represents the values of the broader community – the will of the people.