If there was ever a time a person needed to drown their sorrows, it's when the results start rolling in on election night.
Politics can drive you to drink.
So it's kind of cruel that South Carolina closes all the liquor stores on Election Day. But the state has done it that way for years - and everyone knows we don't cotton to change around here.
Originally, this law had something to do with the olden days when politicos traded pints for votes. Now all they have to do is whisper sweet nothings on talk radio and they can buy a whole mess of votes - cheap.
But some state lawmakers (well, Democrats) have decided that it's time to repeal this archaic law. House members have tried in the past, but it always gets hung up in the state Senate. It probably will this time, too. Those guys have a hard time messing around with anything that might rile up the moral majority.
Some politicians will tell you that voting is your solemn duty and going into the voting booth under the influence could be dangerous. Yeah, well we don't do so great when we're sober.
In the past few years this state's voters have elected felons, coke heads, adulterers, people who may have been comatose and Jim DeMint.
Could we really do that much worse if we were soused?
Why the fuss?
It's funny that legislators are so concerned about this law.
Playing Monopoly is still a misdemeanor in South Carolina, but no one's rushing to fix that. That's because no one wants to mess with gambling, either - it's just another thing that upsets the moralists.
Frankly, the idea makes sense but most liquor store owners are not real concerned. After all, does anyone really think these folks can't just buy their hooch on the day before the election?
"I wouldn't say it hurts," says Jason Wiessler, manager of Bill's Liquor and Fine Wines in Summerville. "They either come in the day before or the day after."
If the state changes the law, Wiessler says, Bill's Liquor will be open like everyone else, but it's not really that big a deal.
There are bigger problems for liquor stores these days. Right now, chain liquor stores are trying to increase the number of franchises they can own in the state. The mom and pop shops are rightfully worried that they are going to be put out of business by the Walmarts of booze.
The liquor stores also have to contend with blue laws. The state finally let them be open on New Year's Day (a time when many people find they are fresh out of the hard stuff) but still force them to close at 7 p.m. which may be the earliest closing time in the country.
An early last call would be fine, except that the bars stay open much later.
Why are we punishing small businesses?
Take a shot
It's tough to change any liquor law in the Bible Belt. Or gambling law. Or divorce law.
It seems the people who scream the loudest for the government to leave them alone are always the first ones to sic it on someone else.
But they claim pure motives. They say the evil skunk water does horrible things to people, impairs their judgment. That may be the case, but nothing impairs judgment like the hogwash routinely spewed by talk show hosts. And you don't see anyone shutting down radio and TV stations come Election Day.
The law that requires liquor stores to be closed on Election Day is anachronistic, makes no common sense and infringes on the personal freedom of private business owners (and drunks, too).
It's a wonder the Democrats proposed it first.
But even if it makes sense, and the Legislature should do it, they shouldn't waste a whole lot of state time fighting for it if the Holy Rollers get all hot and bothered.
The upstanding Upstate likes nothing more than to crusade on moral issues.
Probably because they don't have anything else to do - at least not anything fun.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org
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