09 June 2010

The Mystery of Alvin Greene

Alvin Greene is arguably the embodiment of the anti-incumbent, anti-establishment spirit supposedly loose in this country. He is the Democratic nominee to challenge U. S. Senator Jim DeMint after defeating a veteran state politician and officeholder in the party primary in South Carolina yesterday. He would also seem to be a living refutation of all the complaints against the exclusionary expense of modern campaigning. According to reports, Greene had no campaign website and couldn't even afford signs, much less commercials. He is an unemployed veteran who lives with his parents. He seems like the dream of many an independent politician come true, yet he has risen like a rocket through the ranks of the American Bipolarchy, as if proving the argument against nonpartisan elections that major-party membership gives unique opportunities to the poor for politician advancement.

Yet Democrats in and out of South Carolina are mostly responding to Greene's victory with despair. They see him as a hopeless challenger to DeMint, and many have theorized that his primary win was somehow an irrational choice by voters. Some have said that he won because his name came first in alphabetical order on the primary ballot. Others claim that black racial chauvinism favored Greene. Some have hinted that he's a Republican plant, though it's more plausible to note that South Carolina has open primaries, so that anyone could vote in the Democratic primary. Some people may well have voted insincerely to burden the Democracy with whom they deemed the weakest possible candidate. But few seem to take seriously the idea that Greene would be the natural choice of all the angry people who now supposedly despise incumbency and political experience or even prosperity.

I want to know more about the campaign Greene actually waged before yesterday. Google searches today are dominated by reports of the primary, but before anyone draws conclusions about how he won we need to review events objectively without ruling out the possibility that Greene actually earned his victory, or that it was a sincere protest vote and not an attempt to sabotage the Democratic party. For now, I'm grimly amused by the way the emergence of an indisputable man of the people has been treated as if the system had suddenly gone wrong.

Update: If Republicans think that Greene's nomination is a best-case nomination, it just got better with this report that the candidate has a felony charge pending involving obscene Internet content.

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