Clyburn talks elections, presidential race during NAACP event

by | March 31, 2016 2:20 am

Last Updated: March 30, 2016 at 8:31 pm

“Nobody should live their lives by baseball rules.”
Congressman James Clyburn told a packed crowed at the Taw Caw Community Center as much on Saturday during the annual Freedom Fund Banquet held by the Clarendon branch of the NAACP.
“I first ran for office back in 1970, and I lost; I ran again in 1978, when I ran for secretary of state, and I lost again,” he said. “I ran again in 1986, and I lost again. A friend of mine said to me, … ‘Three strikes and you’re out.’ I said, ‘My friend, that’s a baseball rule.’”
“What I want to say to you is this: Live by the rule of your mother, father or grandparents as they taught you,” Clyburn said. “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. They didn’t tell you to try one more time or three more times. There is no numerical limit on how many times you try. If I had given up after trying three times, I would have never become the number three guy in the House of Representatives.”
The 75-year-old Sumter native hit at the presidential race hard, expressing disdain with the way Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were talking about one another’s wives in their campaigns to be their party’s nominee.
“I mean, what kind of foolishness is this?” Clyburn said. “And we are trying to tell our children that our elected officials, our candidates for office, are supposed to be shining examples. This is what we are faced with in the news.”
Clyburn said that too many on the opposite side of the aisle think of the U.S. Constitution as a “perfect document” that should never be changed.
“The constitution is never perfect,” he said. “The constitution is there as a living document. The constitution means different things at different times in our country’s history. And don’t let anybody, I don’t care if their name is Trump or Cruz, tell you anything different. These people who say that the constitution is set in stone: If the constitution was set in stone, we’d still be slaves. Let’s get real.”
Clyburn said the Founding Fathers “were not perfect.”
“The constitution said that Dred Scott could be taken back into slavery,” he said. “The constitution said that Plessy had no right to ride in any car he wanted to ride in on the train. When the constitution was written, within hours it was amended. The first 10 amendments were written just hours later. The people who wrote the constitution knew, immediately upon having done it, that something needed to change. So this whole notiong that everything is set in stone, that’s a crazy notion. Times change and people change and we, as a country, change.”
Clyburn said there is a misconception that the country moves on a “linear plane.”
“This country has never moved on a linear plane; this country has always moved like a pendulum on a clock,” he said. “It goes left and it goes right. It tops out and it goes back left again. The way that this country moves, how far it goes in any one direction depends upon the intervention of the people.”
Clyburn said he never thought he’d see the day where he would sit in front of a TV and watch a debate with his family where he would be embarrassed.
“We cannot afford to see this country become the den of decadence,” Clyburn said. “That is where we are headed.”
Clyburn said that politicians on both sides of the aisle must work through their differences, and not be so quick to label the other side “un-American.” Talking about his memoirs, “Blessed Experiences,” he told a story of his father and two brothers.
“He gave me and my two brothers a coarse string to pop,” said Clyburn, noting that no matter how hard the brothers each pulled, none could break the tightly wound string.
“He took it back and rubbed the coarse string in his hands; the more he rubbed, the more friction he created,” Clyburn said. “It wasn’t long before it was in three pieces, which he gave to me and my brothers. With very little effort we popped the strings.”
Clyburn said his father presented a moral that the brothers should never let their little disagreements create so much friction “that they separate you, because if you do, the world will pop you apart and you may never know why.”
Clyburn said that Democrats and Republicans don’t always agree on what to do, when to do it or how to do it, “but we shouldn’t let our little disagreements cause so much friction that it separates us. We have things to do.”
“We must leave this country a better place for our children and grandchildren, and we cannot let anybody get in the way of that,” Clyburn said.
Clarendon NAACP President Julius Adger said Saturday’s banquet was one of the most well-attended in recent years.
“This is our only fundraiser for the year,” Adger said. “Normally on election years, attendance picks up.”
Adger said the group is focused in 2016 on getting people registered to vote and getting them to the polls.
“We do not endorse any candidate,” he said. “I will be dealing with the pastors of local churches, because they see the people every Sunday. When you hear 600,000 people in the state of South Carolina are not registered to vote, that’s a lot of votes. I’m not telling them who to vote for, but if you can get them registered and get them to the polls, then they are going to vote for somebody.”

comments » 4

  1. Comment by Moye Graham

    March 31, 2016 at 08:11

    I have said this before. The NAACP is just a branch of the Democrat Party. I ain’t happy with Cruz or Trump and the way our Debates have gone. Clyburn should also mention Clinton and Sanders. Now those are two to be proud of. The reason he is number 3 in the Democrat Party is demographics. His Sixth District is drawn to make sure he or a minority is elected. Similar to the way the House Districts that Cezar McKnight is in and the Senate seat of Senator Kevin Johnson and Ronnie Sabb. There is nothing fair about that. Clyburn cannot speak without trying to play the Race card. The guy should had retired long ago. Obama, Pelosi and Reed has played him like a fiddle. He does what he is told to do by the most Liberal folks in America including the Clinton’s. The Constitution is not a living document and to say so is foolish. Amendments can be added or deleted. One time you had an amendment that made alcohol illegal. That one got thrown out. Until we can rid America of folks like Clyburn in the political arena we will never be at peace with each other. His party will never compromise anything. It is not in their DNA.

  2. Comment by Kevin Johnson

    March 31, 2016 at 16:42

    In response to the way the election lines are drawn, here are the facts as I see it:
    You keep saying that the lines are drawn so that a minority can win but prior to my election that has not been the case. As we have discussed before, the lines are redrawn every ten years to coincide with the census. You might recall that when I began to receive calls about the way the lines were drawn, especially how House District 64 was drawn to remove Wyboo and other areas, I invited you all to check my record to see that I voted against that plan because I wanted all of Clarendon County to be in one district. As I reminded you, the party that is in the majority pretty much decides how the lines are drawn. I have been successful in my elections thus far not because of how the lines are drawn but because of the support that I receive from a cross section of voters and I am thankful for that. The fact of the matter is that while some lines are drawn to benefit Democrats, based on the demographics of that area, many more in SC are drawn to benefit Republicans and that is why the Governor, all of our constitutional officers and the vast majority of the House and Senate are Republicans. Lines are drawn one way in our area but they are drawn just the opposite in the upstate, along the coast and in the York County/ Rock Hill area. With all due respect to you (Moye), I’m not going to say that this is unfair. It’s just simply how things are done by the majority party. Regardless of how the lines are drawn and regardless of partisan politics, the key is to vote for the person and not the party. Once more of us begin to do so, it won’t matter which party is the majority party and it won’t matter how they draw the lines.

  3. Comment by Dan Geddings

    April 1, 2016 at 10:23

    I made an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States when I joined the Army. I served in the infantry, and put myself in harms way for this country. I do believe that the Constitution is written in stone, and can only be changed under great circumstance. It is no living document that can lean to the left or right. If it was, why would we defend it at peril to our lives? Shame on Congressman Clyburn for dismissing it’s value to this country.

  4. Comment by Moye Graham

    April 1, 2016 at 18:30

    Thank you for your service to our country Dan Geddings. What you did makes it possible for us to disagree with those that hold political office. So many think that they are the chosen ones. Congressman Clyburn does for sure.


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