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Phillips: Tend to your own issues

Posted: June 30, 2015 4:23 p.m.
Updated: July 1, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Even though it’s not an election year, in many ways it’s always an election year for some politicians. Given the fact they are “hired” and employed by the voting public, their lives are a nearly constant campaign for re-election. I can understand that. They have cushy jobs they want to keep for many years to come.

As the presidential hopefuls try to gather attention, and funding, for the 2016 election, they are in the news more and more, weighing in on every topic, large and small. It’s vital for them to keep their names and faces in front of the voters, and they’ll do it at every opportunity. I can also understand that.

But starting nearly two years before the election and being in the news so often gets beyond the point of annoying for me. This early in the process, there are so many hopefuls (I won’t even call them candidates at this point) for the highest office, we are literally flooded with them at all times. Often, they’re sharing their points of view on things they have no business being concerned with. The truth is, on many subjects, they are not concerned, but feel a burning need to give the public the perception they have a position and what they feel and think matters.

I could cite many examples, but the one which immediately comes to mind and inspired this column is the controversy over the Confederate flag. As with most things, people have divergent opinions on the flag and how and where it should or should not be displayed, and everyone’s opinion has merit and is valid, at least to them. The one common thread I see in the debate is the flag, and all flags, are a symbol. What it symbolizes is where the argument starts.

Flag critics are 100 percent sure it symbolizes hatred, racism and a support of slavery. Flag supporters say it is a symbol of heritage and Southern pride. Who is right? To me, they all are right. How’s that? A symbol symbolizes whatever you feel it does, so there is no right or wrong, just different perceptions and interpretations.

I notice most of the politicians and other flag critics demanding the removal of the flag from the state capitol grounds in Columbia are from somewhere else. Quite honestly, I don’t care at all what the governors of New Jersey or Massachusetts think about what happens in Columbia. South Carolinians don’t care what flags those states display at their government facilities. No one is demanding they fly the Confederate flag in front of their capitol buildings. That’s because their capitol buildings are not our concern and we know it.

The senseless murders of nine people in a Charleston church two weeks ago did not accomplish what the killer was hoping for, at least not in South Carolina. What I have seen, in person, is a coming together and unity among people of all races like I had never seen before. This was proven on Monday of last week at a prayer vigil held in Bethune. The people of Charleston, Bethune and all of South Carolina could have erupted with hatred, looting, rioting and destruction, but didn’t. What I saw in person in Bethune and on TV from Charleston and other areas of the state has been mostly compassion and understanding from everyone toward everyone.

I guess it sounds now like I am pro flag and feel it should be left alone. No. What I am saying is it is a South Carolina issue and the decision should be made by South Carolina, either by our elected officials who passed a law putting the flag where it now stands and protecting it, or better yet, by a vote of the people of the state. That’s what democracy is supposed to be about, not about a few blowhard politicians demanding action on something which is not theirs to argue about in the first place.

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