COLUMBIA, S.C. — Almost exactly eight months after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley banned flying the Confederate flag at the State House here, the alternate Star-Spangled Banner made a reappearance.
Bearing the flag was Michael Chandler, a gray-bearded, military-faced man who said he is running for Congress in South Carolina as a candidate from the Constitution Party. He’s run — and lost — twice before, as a “regular candidate,” but this time he has high hopes as a third party candidate.
Chandler had just come from a rally commemorating the burning of Columbia in 1865, and now he was just there, with his Confederate flag tied to a long stick he must have found in the park hanging over his right shoulder. “We don’t want you here,” someone yelled at him. “Keep it going man,” another said. One just gave him the middle finger.
But Chandler said people just don’t understand what the flag represents.
“I think people support it but they don’t understand because they’re brainwashed by the public education system,” he said. “They thought the [Civil] War was a war against slavery, and that’s all they know. The younger generation doesn’t know anything else so it’s all basically a lie… the North had to basically say we had to have some reason for slaughtering these people and doing what we did… so the reason was we’ll just free the slaves and say we had a great moral majority.”
Banning the Confederate flag was essentially a political move, Chandler said. “It had been up for years and years and no one said anything about it,” he said. He thinks it was a ploy for Democrats to get the minority vote. “There’s no reason to do it,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, Chandler voted for a non-establishment candidate on Saturday — Ben Carson. As for the current GOP front-runner? “I think [Donald] Trump is a big joke,” Chandler said, before Trump’s decisive victory here later that night. “He’s never going to make it in the first place.”