South Carolina took a giant step Wednesday night to end the long, divisive nightmare over what to do about the Confederate battle flag. The House, in a highly laudatory 63-56 vote, approved the Senate-passed compromise to take the flag down from the Statehouse dome and fly a similar banner at the monument to Confederate soldiers on the Statehouse grounds.
As the adage says, however, "It's never over 'til it's over." There may still be some House-Senate housekeeping differences that could hold the bill up from reaching the governor's desk. Even so, the likelihood it could be killed off now is virtually nil.
Lawmakers of both parties who voted for the compromise can be proud of themselves. With Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans the House, it marked a truly bipartisan effort.
Sadly, only one member of Aiken County's House delegation, GOP Rep. Robert "Skipper" Perry, voted for the compromise. In an alliance of strange bedfellows, Democrat Rep. Bill Clyburn joined most other black House members and hard-line flag supporters, including GOP Reps. Charles Sharpe and Aiken delegation chairman Roland Smith, in a bid to defeat the measure. Fortunately, they failed.
Though the debate may be over, bitterness on both sides will remain, at least for awhile. The NAACP doesn't want the flag publicly respected in any way and says it will continue calling for a nationwide boycott. But with the "take-the-flag-down" goal achieved, the boycott will surely lose steam over time.
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