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Dangerous politics

Posted: July 26, 2011 1:14 p.m.
Updated: July 27, 2011 5:00 a.m.

With the country on the brink of a debt default, and with elected officials in Washington locked in combat, it has never been more apparent how fragile the art of compromise is in the nation’s capital. Most believe the reason is that for years, members of the Republican and Democratic parties have become more and more polarized, Republicans hewing to the hard right and Democrats to the hard left. There’s lots of space to meet in the middle, but Washington pols don’t appear interested. This is frustrating to many centrists who believe government shouldn’t exist on either edge.

As former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local,” so much of the disparity begins with local officials. That’s apparent right here in Kershaw County by recent actions and comments of Jeff Mattox, who’s co-chair of the Kershaw County Republican Party. Mattox is affiliated with the Kershaw County Patriots, a group which maintains a Facebook page that recently contained a controversial article which some interpreted as advocating the killing of police officers. Mattox also has posted far-right comments on the Internet; he says he doesn’t endorse shooting officers but says the thread was useful for starting “a discussion.” He also says the IRS is unconstitutional and that taxation amounts to robbery.

Those are hardly mainstream opinions. Mattox is certainly entitled to them, but such comments by a leader of the Kershaw County Republican Party will hardly lead traditional conservatives -- people who favor low taxes and limited government -- to get involved with the party. In fact, there appears a wide disparity between local elected officials and local party heads, if Mattox is indicative. We suppose it’s difficult to expect compromise in Washington as long as local opinions are pushing in the opposite direction. As far as the Kershaw County GOP is concerned, it appears that’s what’s happening.

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