One of the more pleasing results of last Tuesday’s Democratic primary in South Carolina was the poor showing of the demagogic Al Sharpton.
Running a race-based campaign aimed almost entirely at African-Americans, Sharpton won only 10 percent of the votes in South Carolina– even though almost half the voters were black. More tellingly, 83 percent of those black voters chose a candidate other than Sharpton.
Like most Democrats, it appears African-Americans are more interested in winning this year than they are in sending messages.
Sharpton has built a career in New York by stoking indignation against Democratic candidates whom he believes fail to pay sufficient respect to him and his political operation. His campaign for president seems premised on the idea of building a large enough following to insist on a leading role in the Democratic convention and in the campaign afterwards. The implied threat is that if he doesn’t get it, he and his followers will teach the Democrats a lesson.
In practice, Sharpton has been far more useful to Republicans than he has been to Democrats. In fact he has endorsed Republican candidates in New York a number of times (for senator, governor and mayor of New York City). And the left-wing New York weekly The Village Voice has a fascinating article about the close political and financial ties between Sharpton and veteran Republican operative and scumbag Roger Stone. It was Stone who helped organize the infamous “Republican riot” which shut down the Miami-Dade County, Florida, recount after the disputed 2000 presidential election. Obviously there are Republicans who consider Sharpton a useful means of undermining the eventual Democratic nominee.
Sharpton and Stone are still capable of plenty of mischief. But fortunately it seems Sharpton has few takers so far among the voters for his politics of race-baiting and resentment.
Update: More evidence. Sharpton got five percent of the vote in the Michigan caucuses and less than one percent in Washington state.