The deaths of nine African Americans at a church in Charleston, S.C. has raised the issue of that state’s capitol flying the Confederate flag on its grounds and the candidates for president are weighing-in on the issue.
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wants Confederate flag removed from South Carolina’s capitol grounds. (AP Photo)
The Confederate flag was created at the beginning of the Civil War, to symbolize the Confederate States of America, the southern states that ceded from the United States, over the issue of slavery. The flag presently symbolizes White Southerners position that states should have the right to self-determination without federal government interference and for some flag enthusiasts, the political and economic subjugation of people of color.
The national discussion on the Confederate flag started when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican candidate for president, tweeted “Take down the Confederate Flag at the SC Capitol.”
“To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.”
In response, President Obama, who defeated Romney in 2012, thanked his former opponent by tweeting, “Good point, Mitt.”
Blacks see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racial oppression. Democrats agree with African Americans on that view.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, considered the leading Democrat for the 2016 presidential nomination, said that she would personally like to see the flag removed.
“I think about how many South Carolinians have served in our military and who are serving today under our flag and I believe that we should have one flag that we all pay honor to, as I know that most people in South Carolina do every single day,” Clinton recently told the Associated Press.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is vying with Clinton for the Democratic nomination, said in an email to supporters that he thinks the flag should be taken down.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic candidate, tweeted that “the Confederate flag is a relic of our nation’s stained racial history” and “it should come down.”
However, the Republican candidates differ in their approach to the issue. Republicans are dependent on White conservative votes, as a base, for political success in national elections and are careful not to offend them.
On June 22, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) called for the flag to be taken down and she was joined later on that by Sen. Lindsey Graham, the only South Carolinian in the presidential race.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pointed out that his state took down the Confederate flag in 2001 when he was in office.
“Following a period of mourning there will rightly be a discussion among leaders in the state about how South Carolina should move forward and I’m confident that they will do the right thing,” Bush said.
Bush was joined by former New York Gov. George Pataki in that assessment.
Still, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) along with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, corporate executive Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum have said in essence that the people of South Carolina need to decide the issue.
“It’s not an issue for someone running for president,” Huckabee said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on June 21.
Dr. Ben Carson, the only Black major candidate for the White House in 2016, said on Fox News June 21 that the “Confederate flag causes a lot of people angst.”
“I think the people of South Carolina should sit down and have an intelligent discussion about what can they use that captures their heritage, captures the heritage of America and allows them to coexist in peace,” he said.