In a political landscape dominated by social media, talk radio, and cable news stations blaring the latest exploits of presidential contenders in their chase for the White House, local Democrats will take solace in their regular pilgrimage to Galivants Ferry Monday to see local candidates campaign the old fashioned way — stump speeches.
Tree stumps that were used as platforms when the tradition began in 1876 with former Confederate General Wade Hampton’s gubernatorial campaign have since been replaced with stages. Republicans are actually encouraged to attend nowadays in the hopes they will have a change of political heart, they’re just not invited to speak.
Christy Holliday Douglas is a fourth-generation member of the Holliday family who began the tradition at their home near the banks of the Pee Dee River just four years after Hampton’s speech.
The Holliday family has kept the tradition going for 140 years, and Douglas says that even social media and television cannot replace the direct contact that voters need with candidates in order to understand what the politicians actually stand for — to shake their hands, look them in the eye, and to measure the strength of a candidate’s moral character.
Politics today is complicated, now more than ever.
Christy Holliday Douglas
“Politics today is complicated, now more than ever,” Douglas said. “We need leaders we can trust, who have experience, and know what they’re doing.”
This year’s keynote speaker is U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, who serves as vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn who represents South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District is a regular attendee, and will be speaking, along with Jaime Harrison, state Democratic Party chairman, Bennie Swans, Horry County party chairman, Jimmy Williams, former MSNBC Contributor and Host of DecodeDC Podcast, and local attorney Tommy Brittain, who will act as master of ceremonies.
All of the Democratic candidates running for the Horry County Council and school board are invited and expected to speak, as well as the candidates for the state House, state Senate, and U.S. Senate.
The family event begins at 6 p.m. and will feature southern food, bluegrass music, cloggers, and the national anthem performed by the Aynor High School ensemble.
I think people out there are seeing the common sense of the Democratic Party, and are ready to come on over.
Sally Howard, chair emeritus, Horry County Democratic Party
Douglas said she expects strong attendance at this year’s event because many folks have grown frustrated with the political system and tone set by the Republican presidential campaign.
“We’re in a mess right now — I don’t know a nicer way to put it,” Douglas said.
Sally Howard, chair emeritus of the Horry County Democratic Party, says agitation in the Republican Party presents a unique opportunity for her own.
“I think this year with the turmoil going on in Republican Party, it certainly has given us an opportunity to reach out to people disenfranchised or not happy with what’s going on in the GOP,” Howard said.
“More and more people consider themselves independent or of no party affiliation,” Howard said. “I think people out there are seeing the common sense of the Democratic Party, and are ready to come on over.”