Letter from our President

My fellow Democrats,

Thank you for your interest in the SCDWC. Together we share a vision and love for not only the Democratic Women’s Council but for our Democratic Party.

What a thrill it was for our President, Barack Obama, to win reelection last November! Knowing that women played such a large role in his campaign only reiterates what we know already– Democratic women are the backbone of the party. And when we work as a cohesive unit, we are unbeatable.

In SC, many volunteers were torn over which candidate to support. Some of our SCDWC members canvassed and phone banked for President Obama in NC in addition to donating money and working for other candidates in crucial local, State and National races.

How proud I am of all of our SC women who stepped up, and answered the call to service this past year. Four of our newly elected SC Congressional candidates were women. To them we owe our thanks for running and for inspiring groups of hard working volunteers.

But despite our best efforts, in most of our SC races, our party made few gains. We were able to keep a few seats for Democrats and even added a few new women house members, but we know how difficult that election cycle was. It can be discouraging when, year after year, we see our best and brightest candidates for office lose to those we know are less qualified.

Perhaps the best description of that struggle I’ve read comes from Thomas Jefferson in a letter he wrote to John Taylor on June 4, 1798.

“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. …If the game runs sometime against us at home, we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.” — Thomas Jefferson, Philadelphia, June 4, 1798

Patience alone is not enough, to sit back and wait until our luck turns … no one else can fix this for us. We are Democrats because we believe in our shared values and we believe that Democrats govern better. It is up to us to actively participate in the process of helping Democratic representatives get elected.

We know that our house and senate district lines are drawn by the prevailing political party and in SC, the Republican party draws lines helpful to them. It seems bleak, but I know there is a cure for what ails us. It is simply to work hard and more importantly, to work smart to increase our numbers at the Statehouse so that we have a real seat at the table.

My goal for the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council is simple and attainable.

I want to build an army of women statewide who will work steadily and strategically for our next slate of candidates in 2014. We must utilize tools like VoteBuilder to help us find our targeted audience. We must have continual training for our women and continued projects to keep us interested and engaged in the process. We must be willing to help our Democratic office holders by helping them hold the Republican party accountable for legislation they’ll try to pass — legislation that will be harmful to women and families. And yes, we must also build a network of women dedicated to identifying and funding good Democratic Women candidates.

But saying that is not enough. What are words without action? We need to take advantage of new media. It is my hope that we take advantage of the tools and information we provide on this web site to help us become better citizen activists, to become better informed about upcoming legislation that would harm women and families, for us to write letters to the editor in various newspapers and online blogs across SC. And we must use these tools to get the word out to our friends, family members and neighbors, to encourage them to make bold choices that benefit us all instead of a mere few. Part of that action is to attend and participate in House and Senate hearings.

I also recognize the importance of reaching out to women who are Democrats in their hearts but who have been made to feel that they have no place in this party. They want to canvass and register voters but don’t necessarily enjoy sitting through business meetings. We need them and their enthusiasm. It’s important for us to remember that they don’t need to be a part of the Democratic party as much as we need them to join us. If we continue this path of exclusion, we will remain the minority party in SC.

We must be open to changes within our party before we can focus on why the Republicans are so wrong for this state. For the past few years, I’ve heard criticism such as “We know what the Democratic party is against, but what do you stand FOR?”

Here are some statistics about our state of South Carolina that are truly frightening:

  • 1 in 3 children in SC live in poverty.
  • 40% of black and Hispanic children live in poverty
  • 73% of poor SC children live with a single parent

(Kaiser State Health Facts and the National Center for Children in Poverty)

According to the Center for American Progress:
South Carolina — Lowest Indicators (Nationwide)

  • High School Graduation 49th
  • Unemployment Rate 46th
  • Poverty Rate 44th
  • 18.2% of SC residents live below the official poverty line making SC 44th poorest state in the nation.
  • Currently, South Carolina is 50th in the nation for women’s political representation in state legislatures.

From the Pee Dee Coalition — South Carolina Domestic Violence Statistics

South Carolina now ranks· #7 in the nation for the number of women murdered by men according to the Violence Policy Center’s September 2011 report, “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2009 Homicide Data.” (SC ranked #9 in the September 2010 report.) (Accessed on September 21, 2011: Click HERE to read report.)

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson identified domestic violence as the number one crime issue in the state. According to the State Attorney General’s web site, more than 36,000 victims report a domestic violence incident to law enforcement statewide. (Accessed on Sept. 14, 2011: Click HERE to read report.)

Pee Dee Region Domestic Violence Statistics
Domestic violence comprised 85% of the victim population served by the Pee Dee Coalition in
2010-2011.

These deplorable statistics are not meant to discourage, but are instead to inspire a call to action, to firm our resolve for the struggle ahead toward a better life for the most vulnerable among us. We must continue to fight for a better representative government. Let’s build a stronger Women’s Council and through it, a better party. Share my vision and hope. Let’s work together for our future.

Susan2
Susan Smith
President, South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council

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