Last night, South Carolina's gubernatorial candidates debated how best to convince outsiders that South Carolina is not a backwards shithole. The libertarian—the libertarian!—agreed with the Democrat that ditching the Confederate flag would help. Nikki Haley disagreed, because FREE ENTERPRISE DISAGREES.
The three-and-a-half-minute video of that exchange, embedded above, screams to be watched in its entirety. At issue is a South Carolina law, from the year 2000, that makes it illegal to remove the Confederate battle flag from its place on the front lawn of the state Capitol.
Asked about this, Democratic gubernatorial challenger Vincent Sheheen made a compelling case to ditch the flag:
I think we're tired of having an image that we're stuck in the past and divided. I believe that South Carolinians and our young people who leave this state all too often are tired of the image that the leaders of this state project… I believe that it's time that we retire the Confederate flag to a place of respect where the history of this great state can be told and that we all rally together under a flag that unites us all, the American flag, that looks to the future and not toward the past.
In her rebuttal, Haley—the Republican incumbent—said there was no reason to remove the flag, because her job is making nice with capitalists, and capitalists have no political ideology:
You know, the Confederate flag is a very sensitive issue, and what I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spend a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag… We really kind of fixed all that when you elected the first Indian American female governor. When we appointed the first African American senator.
Finally, Steve French—the libertarian candidate—told Haley she was full of shit:
If you wanna paint your house in the Confederate flag, I am completely fine with that, as long as your HOA approves it. Now, Governor Haley talks about other businesses that never brought that up. Now, I disagree with that. I've got a friend, an MIT grad who works in California, who continues to bring up the fact that he wants to start his own business. And when I bring up it starting here in South Carolina, he laughs. He smirks. He still thinks of South Carolina as being this backwoods good old boy network. And that flag, I think, represents a lot of division in this state. And we need to be coming together.
You'd think that Haley could at least find some ground for compromise with the Democrat and libertarian on this one: They could retire the Confederate flag to a museum, but display it South Carolina-style. The Charleston Museum, for example, displays shackles used to keep slaves in bondage:
The museum also displays the badges slaves were forced to wear:
While at the same time explaining that those badges were the most efficient way to keep track of the wearers so that a slaveowner could "sell a slave's unneeded labor to someone else." ("Income provided by the slave," the museum placard explains, "was either split between the master and the slave or, more likely, turned over to the master." Indeed.)
See? It's all about commerce. Haley and her CEOs could get behind that, right? Then again, if South Carolinians really were any good at compromising, there might not have been any Confederacy and battle flag in the first place.