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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Republican Rebellion or Fant's Fantastic Fiasco?
Jonathan Pait
May 29, 2003

Well, they’ve given themselves a name. It is Project Genesis. The group hopes that their formation will be the beginning of a new era in Greenville politics. It appears to be spearheaded by former NAACP president Ennis Fant.

They are a coalition of Democrats and Republicans banded together for the sole purpose of defeating the conservative members of Greenville County Council. Oh, you can leave Phyllis Henderson off of that list. She will not feel their ire. Only the ones who voted for Mark Kingsbury’s MLK Day option are targets.

How do they plan to pull it off?

First, they will organize and raise money. Speaking of money, somebody is bound to make some out of this deal. Are there any political hacks out there who want to make some cash helping six candidates for County Council? You say, “Come on, it is just a County Council race.” Remember the money that was pumped into the school board race by the Alliance for Quality Education? Could it be that the money will come from the same pockets?

Second, they will use this money to field “moderate” Republicans in the Republican primary. You could say they are going to be Democrats in Republican clothing. This should come as no surprise. RINOs have been a growing species for some time—especially within the confines of the Greenville city limits. However, their downfall may be that they don’t have as big of a herd as they may think.

Third, they will attempt to compensate for their lack of numbers by getting the black Democratic community to crash the party at the Republican primary. Ennis Fant hinted at as much a week ago in the May 23 issue of The Greenville Journal. “Blacks have to realize if you vote for a Republican you’re not going to die and go to hell,” he is quoted as saying.

The rest of the article was insightful. However, not in the way Mr. Hyndman, the author, intended. Allow me to read between the lines. We can learn something about Project Genesis by doing so.

First, they make the point to equate social conservatism with the rejection of the MLK day. This appears to be a growing option for liberals. If you want to destroy something, just link it to social conservatives. However, this ignores that there were social conservatives who were not opposed to the study committee’s recommendations. Bob Jones, president of Bob Jones University and who comes in for some derision in the piece, was one of them.

I had an opportunity to talk with Ed Foulke since I wrote this article. I shared with him my concerns that too often no one stands up for the social conservatives. He pointed out to me that in the context of his conversation with Mr. Hyndman that it did not allow for such a response. Furthermore, “rankled” was not a proper description for his attitude. He assured me that he certainly is not ashamed of social conservatism because those are the values to which he holds.

Having dealt with reporters, I certainly understand how print does not always convey the true atmosphere of an interview. Even so, it is my opinion that if social conservatives are not reminded that they are an integral part of the Republican Party (on all levels), they may lose motivation.

Update: Somehow, it is going around that I have linked Ed Foulke with Project Genesis. I do not know how that can be arrived at from this article. It is not true.

Second, we see that there are currently those within the party who appear to be ashamed of their uncouth cousins. Ed Foulke, the chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party, is said in the article to be “rankled” by accusations that the party is dominated by the “religious right.”

As a Republican and a social conservative, I believe our party leadership should not surrender to the assumption that somehow the social conservatives of this area are the pariah to be kept in containment. Rather than trying to find ways of saying, “but, really, I’m not one of those,” it would be refreshing to hear someone counter the false premise that the “religious right” is the cause of all the ills in Greenville County.

Ah, that wonderful word, “mainstream.” Fant says that he wanted to form a coalition between minority voters and “more mainstream” white Republicans. However, the article points out that the social conservatives (the less mainstream Republicans) make up about 60 percent of the registered voters. Wouldn’t that make them the majority? What does “mainstream” mean anyway?

Finally, the article points out that there are “many other Republicans who don’t share” the views of those who “tend to support candidates who are pro-life, conservative Christians.” Hmmm, I wonder under what umbrella these “business people transplanted to the area who are fiscal conservatives but are more socially progressive [read LIBERAL]” can be found?

Let’s grant for the sake of argument that Mr. Fant has a valid gripe. It isn’t Ennis Fant that bothers me. I can't get out of my mind that this is more than a black/white issue. It is the anonymous people providing the money and the political know how of whom I am wary. Could it be that the black community is being used and this MLK day debate? Certainly, you would expect the NAACP to be exercised. However, are there others using this as a smokescreen for a bigger political goal?

There are those who have been waiting for just such a catalyst to finally rid this county of the people who have stood in their way. I am afraid that some of them are within our own Republican Party and Project Genesis has the goal of becoming our Apocalypse. Then again, this might just be Fant’s Fantastic Fiasco.

At least now they have a name. It is easier to recognize the enemy when they have a banner waving over them. Indeed drawing attention to themselves might be their undoing.

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