The Republican Party’s state committee upheld the 2015 Pickens County convention on Aug. 22 and will oversee the 2016 convention, which is not news to those involved in the Republican Party.
Now the local party will either heal itself and become a somewhat cohesive unit or the struggles that have plagued it over the last year will grow even more divisive.
While the most sensible thing would be for the party at the county level to find common ground between what has become opposing factions, the likelihood of that occurring is unlikely. To do so there would have to be a complete overhaul in the party leadership and its members, going to a more moderate stance, not in the platform of the national party but at the county level.
The national party platform will remain the same no matter what occurs in Pickens County, but locally the divisiveness has become polarizing with many among its membership either unwilling or unable to yield in compromise.
When one looks across the political landscape of the heavily Republican Pickens County, the discord in local government is a mirror reflection of the issues the local membership is facing. Whether it is the seat of county government and the municipalities or the school board, the struggle between each has been evident. That struggle will continue to trickle down to the membership at its grass roots level.
The City of Easley recently joined the Upstate SC Alliance, a group that assists in recruiting new businesses and industries to upstate South Carolina. This will be a trend most likely to continue since Pickens County lags behind the rest of the state in economic development, especially when compared to Gov. Nikki Haley’s efforts.
County officials seem to believe economic development can be handled sufficiently at the county level without participating in groups such the Upstate Alliance, among others, but the numbers do not play out, so the buck is passed to the cities to act.
The School District of Pickens County board of trustees completed its budget battle at the beginning of summer, but for quite awhile it was touch and go as opposing members debated the necessity of a millage increase to meet the demands of 21st century education.
Grassroots movements began and opposing sides squared off, exchanging barbs and insults as if it were currency. Eventually cooler heads prevailed and at least for the next year the debate has been put to bed. But for awhile there it appeared the battle between the two groups would take its toll on the district and in turn the students.
The situation with the Pickens County GOP is much the same as the school board issue, with the results of the vote cast being nothing more than buying time. In the minds of many, it’s an opportunity to rein in what looks to be a continuing problem.
The opposing sides now have the opportunity to repair and heal the group, but will they? Perhaps more importantly is this question: can they?