Regular readers of this column, of which I assume there are at least two, will note I did not write an "end of the year" piece last month. It was not for a lack of having anything to say about 2013, but I refrained because retrospective pieces are so cliché. Looking backward, after all, is easy and rarely productive. Looking forward is much more interesting, especially when you consider all that 2014 has in store for us.
The coming year looks to be quite a ride if for no other reason than a slew of elections that are guaranteed to provide endless opportunities for snark from yours truly. Not only will seven unlucky souls get sent to the House of Representatives — including Mark Sanford, who was just elected into office in May — will see two senatorial campaigns and a gubernatorial race.
Hopefully, these races will feature meaningful debate about the future of the state and the country, but I suspect instead we'll see a handful of sacrificial lambs offered up by the marginal-at-best Democratic Party of South Carolina. The few candidates not meant for the slaughterhouse, on the other hand, will be doing the GOP candidates with draconian ideas on everything from gay rights to school prayer.
After all, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen seems to have the same problem with gay marriage as many (so-called libertarian) Republicans do — he thinks it's icky. Meanwhile, Bakari Sellers, a young Democrat with an eye on the lieutenant governor's office, filed a bill that would attempt to ease what he calls the burden of the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, seven of the 10 sponsors of a bill aimed at creating a "moment of silence" in public schools that will soon be working its way through the state House of Representatives are Democrats. These sorts of right-wing-friendly moves are indicative either of the level of pandering these Democrats will do to be elected or it's an indictment of the S.C. Democratic Party as a whole. Either way, DINOs are worth keeping up with during the new legislative session.
Also in 2014, the ongoing drama surrounding the sale of the Charleston School of Law to Infilaw will play out. Going by the name alone, Infilaw must be a completely soulless group of investors operating under the auspices of providing education to a growing number of clueless post-grads who desire to be the next Saul Goodman.
Meanwhile, Mt. Pleasant residents are interested in seeing where the proposed Francis Marion University satellite campus will land (odds are it will involve either displacing some of the poorer people in town and/or destroying what little undeveloped land exists east of the Cooper). And, if you add that to the growing desire by the local elites to merge the College of Charleston with the Medical University of South Carolina, a prospect that is discussed almost entirely in terms of "economic benefits," then 2014 should be a stellar year for higher education in the Charleston area.
In addition, 2014 might become the year that the issue of raising the minimum wage comes to South Carolina. After all, minimum wage increases became law in several cities across the country last week. It seems progressives have finally realized what Republicans have known for years: that gridlock on the national level means that the best chance for change happens at the local and state level. It's why Republicans have been more or less content to lose a couple of presidential campaigns and present themselves as completely ineffective and moronic buffoons at the national level. Doing so allows them the freedom to operate at the state and local level since the Democratic Party places a ridiculous amount of money and attention on national races, with little left over for local ones (a failure of that party's own reliance on, you know, Big Government to fix the nation's problems — problems that are generally created by the Republican drive to make the government function as poorly as possible until private solutions become the only apparent alternative).
I realize that most people enjoy looking back on a year with fondness (or, in my case, a general sense of loathing and annoyance), but this year I decided looking forward might be a better option. I certainly hope you enjoy reading about this year as much as I look forward to writing about it.