A Noticeable Invisibility in South Carolina

Posted: Jan 20, 2012 12:47 PM


Boy, is it ever hot in South Carolina these days.  Last night’s debate started with fireworks, and the rockets’ red glare are guaranteed to continue through the weekend.  This is the stuff of primary lore; one that will be remembered for decades.  It’s just a bit sad, however, that it’s less a clash of titanic issues and more one of titanic (and flawed) egos. 

But what I’ve found interesting these past few weeks is the noticeable absence of one heretofore prominent politician, even in his own state.  I’m referring, of course, to South Carolina’s own Sen. Jim DeMint.  Sure, he’s all over the Palmetto State, mixing and mingling with his constituents, and still very popular in the state.  What I’m more puzzled by is the Senator’s lack of visibility on the national stage, especially when all eyes are on his home state and on a group that heralded him as its de facto kingmaker – the Tea Party.

I consider myself a regular consumer of political media, especially the cable daysides.  And unless I’ve fallen asleep the past few weeks, DeMint just hasn’t been a regular fixture on the political circuit.  I can’t say that I’ve seen him quoted in national publications which have been covering every angle of the GOP primary in the state.  I would think someone so important to a movement such as the Tea Party might be given more prominence in the journalistic heavens, and yet he hasn’t.

Now, I have tremendous admiration and respect for Senator Jim DeMint.  He’s a true conservative and without a doubt understands and embraces the many issues that this country cares about most.  Not only does he resonate with the Tea Party, but Independents and many conservative Democrats embrace him as well.  DeMint could be a viable presidential or vice presidential candidate or running mate.  He doesn't need the constant media attention and works fiercely behind the scenes for the issues he cares about most.  Without a doubt you know where DeMint stands in an uncompromising way on the economic, social, and foreign issues we face at home and abroad.  While many of his Senate colleagues find him difficult in his unwavering beliefs, it is common knowledge that he is highly respected among his peers.    The point of this blog is not to question what he’s done but to publicly ponder the ‘why.’ 

It’s safe to say that the Tea Party has been on somewhat of a downward spiral lately.  Could it be that this is a strategic move and they're reserving their financial resources to gear up again after the GOP nominee is selected and than move forward with their strategy for the 2012 Presidential race?  A Pew Research Center poll late last year confirmed the waning sentiment both nationally and in the hotbeds of congressional districts where Tea Party loyalists were elected.  Some of this is media hype; they would like nothing more than to see this power house organization that has changed the landscape of American politics and elections quietly disappear forever.  It’s only natural; a movement cannot hope to sustain a heightened level of enthusiasm day in and day out.  After all, these are average Americans who have jobs and lives outside of politics. However, they like most of America, realize what is at stake in this 2012 Presidential election, and I wouldn't imagine them remaining idle for much longer.

But back to DeMint.  I just find it interesting the South Carolina Senator has not been courted more by the candidates, at least not publicly.  And if they are wooing him, DeMint’s not making a spectacle about it.  If that’s his M.O., then more power to him.  But it seems to me he would want to leverage the interest in his state and his Tea Party allegiances to only grow its power and influence.  After all, politics is about influence – persuading your opponents and would-be supporters that yours is the right course of action. 

I find it odd.