2003 Palmetto Boys' State
7 days of sex deprived Republican hell
Boys' State is a state based leadership program that involves every state in the American union except for Hawaii. Sponsored by the American Legion, each post raises funds to send X number of students from their local schools to the week long program, the delegates being selected on the basis of scholarship, atheleticism, work ethic, as well as loyalty to God, country, and family. In my school's case, the requirements extended to "support for the war on Iraq." Some of us began our junior political careers on the right footing-as liars.
Palmetto Boys' State is the South Carolina version of the program (Palmetto being the state tree) and began in 1940 and after a four year break from 42'-46' to deal with some minor regional conflict or other, it has continued uninterrupted until this day. Since its inception, the PBS program has been held at the Citadel, South Carolina's military academy in Charleston, but has also been held at various times at Wofford College in Spartanburg.
Currently around 800 boys from around the state are sent to the Citadel each year, and are broken up into fifteen cities and five counties. The five counties are named after real counties in the state, which also bear the names of famous South Carolinians: each city is named after a major state river.
Each city is under control of two junior counselors, and one senior counselor. The junior counselors are selected from attendees of the previous year's program, and senior counselors are veteran JCs. Each county also holds a set of advisors who act as professional jerks and chew out the counselors, who in turn, turn on us.
The chance to run for and be elected into various offices is one of the core purposes of the Boys' State program, as well as one of the most enjoyable. Each office available is completely real, and anybody who is elected to an office takes on the true respective duties of that office: no office had any power. It just sounded good. Every available office first had to pass through a party primary the day prior to the election, and then the general elections took place.
Within each city, there were quite a few positions to vie for, and this is probably actually a more difficult level to win at, just because the elections take place so soon after you get there, you have no friends, no support, and no time to prepare. You have to hit the ground running to win here. The available city offices are:
Mayor Pro Tem
City Councilman (6)
The City council also appoints these officials:
Clerk of the Police Court
Chief of Police
These appointed positions officially had no power, authority, or influence whatsoever. I don't even think our city had any of these, or if they did, nobody even remembered if they were selected to it.
County elections took place on the third day, and the holders of some of these jobs actually had some miniscule responsibilities. The possible positions available at the county level were as follows:
County Council (2 from each city)
County Superintendant of Education
The state officials actually have some real power, and some minor fame, and best of all, they get to have live sessions in the actual state capitol building in Columbia, and some get to give lots of speeches and stuff. The potential offices at the state level are:
Secretary of State
Senator (5 from each county)
House Representative (10 from each county)
Superintendant of Education
Comissioner of Agriculture
*requires passage of bar exam to hold office
^Must hold same office at lower governmental level
These offices were appointed at the state level by the Governor with the consent of the senate. These offices include:
Director of the Department of Health
Director of the Department of Public Welfare
Superintendent of State Patrol
Commissioner of Insurance
Our particular governor also took the initiative and created:
Head of Girls' State Affairs
Personal Body Guard
Personal Intern (the governor of Girls' State)
Also, a Chief Justice and three other judges of the supreme court are appointed by the state legislature, and must have completed the criminal justice course.
Every day for about an hour, each county would meet in a lecture room where they would sit and view a powerpoint and listen to an expert speak on a given topic. At the end of the week, an exam is to be given on the subjects discussed, all of which involved the government and the law of South Carolina. To pass the exam, a score of 35 is required, and it is all but impossible to fail-of course we didn't know that going in to the course. For many this was an optional nap time, but I personally could never fall back asleep that soon after waking up.
Monday's lesson was on city/town government, and what the requirements were to become corporated as a municipality. The talk revolved around the three main types of city governments allowed by the South Carolina Constitution-Council, Mayor-Council, and Council Manager, and how cities could earn money. For some reason after listening to this lesson, I had an intense desire to get on a computer and try my hand at a SimCity game.
Tuesday's classroom experience dealt with county government and jurisdiction, as well as how to go about creating and destroying counties in South Carolina. They also explained each of the offices we had the option of running for.
Wednesday's lessons, if you haven't caught on to the pattern, were about State government and law. This talk centered heavily on the various jobs available for the citizens to run for because hey, not many rising seniors know what a Comptroller or Adjutant General does.
The final lecture was on Thursday, and dealt with the numerous South Carolina laws and courts, as well as the state Supreme Court, and what jurisdictions they all had. I slept through this one, so I'm afraid I can't provide much detail here.
On Monday and Tuesday optional classes were available in law, criminal justice, and media. In order to become an attorney at any level, you had to pass the Boys' State bar exam after taking the law course, and to become a judge of any sort required passing the criminal justice course. On Thursday, mock trials were held in which the graduates of these courses could do their things, with jurors being conscripted out of the rest of the population. Media students wrote and edited the "Palmetto Boys' State Citizen," the program newspaper.
Arguably the greatest bullshit we were given and accepted to a degree, was the random division of Boys' State into two political parties: the Federalists and the Nationalists. The "Feds" were blue. The "Nats" were red. The distinction ended there. Our party platforms were developed Thursday night in time for the state elections meaning that for four full days, we were enemies over nothing. After Thursday, we were enemies for nothing that mattered.
I have to give them credit for doing it. It simulated the political environment of the real world quite well, and it was after all, pretty fun. The Feds adopted the slogan "Pure Blue Energy" after a KMX energy drink which was drank by the leaders at every rally. The Nats did not have a slogan that I can recall, but we both had some chants we used to rally our respective forces. The Feds would scream out "Blue! Blue! Blue!" when they were feeling really uninspired, but usually used "Get Fed up!" or "Open up a can!" and always accompanied cheers by holding a fist up in the air. The Nats would flick their wrists in the air shouting "Natty Nat!" or "Nats Attack! Nats Attack!" The rivalry got pretty cool sometimes.
The first day that we were introduced to our parties at the first assembly, the Feds came in screaming and waving flags while some cool techno song blared and a huge flashing can of "Pure Blue Energy" came up on this massive screen. The Nats pulled off some stupid dance. Round one-Feds. The next day, the Feds pulled up in a cop car with siren blaring to rally their soldiers. The Nats just met. Things were getting ugly it seemed-until the Nats won the city elections in a landslide. Despite losing in Mayors 8-7, the Nats outdid the Mayor Pro Tems 9-6, and won the city councils by a 52-39 margin, giving them a total score of 68-52. The Fed leaders were pissed. "VOTE STRAIGHT TICKET," they screamed in a fury, accusing us of betraying our party. The next day they showed up in a helicopter. That was cool. But that night at the assembly, the Nats struck with a vengeance, perhaps turning the tide of the entire competition.
The program director Allen Bosworth stood up at the assembly where the final announcement of the country elections was to be announced. "It appears that tonight there is no need to announce the winners of the county elections. If you were a Federalist and you ran for any office, please stand up." At which point a wave of excitement began pulsing through the room, and then he sprung forth the statement that released a cascade of Pure Blue Energy: "The Federalists have swept the county elections." The Feds went berserk, rushing the stage with fists raised in glorious victory, rallying around the two adult party leaders who were jumping up and down with the rest of us as we shouted our lungs raw, screaming mixed chants or nothing at all as pointless ecstacy coursed through us. And then, one of the other higher ups Sinclair Lewis walked up to the microphone, and with his slow, implaceable southern drawl, and head cocked slightly to the right, in all seriousness and with no hint of humor muttered the immortal words of crushing defeat:
"I believe the Federalists have just been punked."
At which point the word Punk'd appeared on the massive screen against a totally red backdrop, and the Nats went wild. The Feds were devestated by the grueling counter. Sinclair never so much as grinned. It was glorious, even the Feds loved it. But the victory however was to be short-lived. The Feds had gone straight ticket under the outcries of their Federalist JCs, and the Nats were trampled underfoot in the county elections. The Senate elections (which were held concurrently with the county elections) went 17-8 in favor of the feds, and the house was ruled 32-18. The sherrifs and coroners were 3-2 for the Feds, attorneys 4-1, and the county councils a slim 13-12. The Nats won Education and Treasurer 3-2. The retaliation began immediately with the still-massed Federalists chanting "Who got punked?" But it was never enough, the punking having been the greatest political coup of the week, and one from which the Feds would never recover.
The platforms were arranged, the primaries decided over great speeches and apathetic debates, and the time had come for the state elections of the 9 "important," that is, constitutional, officers. After a three dollar fee, the Feds got a blue t-shirt with a "Pure Blue Energy" can on the front and "Open up a can" on the back, as well as an actual can of Pure Blue Energy drink. For the same price, the Nats got a red shirt saying "The Nats Punk'd Palmetto Boys' State" and two boom sticks. The fight was on.
At the final dual party rally, the Fed strategy was disciplined excitement. They walked in quietly, fists raised, while the Nats were producing a deafening roar. Sitting silently, the Feds only stood up to make noise before and after their own candidates were presented, and after their platform was read. No more gimmicks, no more rallies, just pure, unadulterated speaking by the candidates. It was long, it was hot, and it by God it reeked, but those were some good speeches. After some more straight ticket rhetoric we went to bed early to rest up to visit Girls' State the next day in Columbia, and when the morning came, the die was cast. The Nats got nasty on the Feds despite a Federalist majority, winning 5 out of 9 positions. Here are the winners:
Governor-Duy Nguyn (Doo-E Win) Nationalist.
Duy who? Duy what? Duy Nguyn? Yes we do!
Lt. Governor-Desmond Body:Nationalist
Secretary of State-Chris Tidmarsh:Federalist
Attorney General-Greg Pietras:Nationalist
Comptroller General-Sam Mitchell:Federalist
Adjutant General-Ian Sutton:Nationalist
Comissioner of Agriculture-Gil Weathers:Nationalist
Game, set, match, Nationalists.
Secular Church Services
As I mentioned above, being of religious background was quite important, although not essential, to the Boys' State program and its citizens. Although it was never stated, the emphasis was more on western, Judeo-Christian values and beliefs, but to be correct they said Islam and Buddhism etc. were very fine and welcomed at Boys' State. On Sunday, we held a vespers service in the Citadel chapel at six o'clock right before supper, and heard a message by retired reverand Sinclair Lewis after singing some religious and patriotic tunes. He talked about how Abraham Lincoln was the man, and what he thinks the nation would have said to Honest Abe if he could talk to him today. ("I am the nation. I am Boys' State" etc.) According to the Senior Counselors, he's been giving this same tired old speech for years. Fortunately most of us stayed awake for it and made fun of him for the rest of the week.
Starting Monday, we had a devotional service every day at noon before lunch. This was better known as nap time. The speeches were kept mostly secular in basis so as not to offend anybody did promote religious values. Here's a breakdown of what happened at every day's service.
Monday-David was a great guy. Joseph was a great guy. We sang some patriotic songs, some praise songs, and I don't remember much else. This messgae was given by the Citadel chaplain.
Tuesday-Premarital sex is bad, and Bible aside, studies show it is both emotionally and physically bad. Included some other things, including the worst golf analogy ever. Given by a Catholic priest.
Wednesday-Jews are good, and everyone else is not as good. Arabs are the worst. Jews have always been picked on, yet despite adversity, they remain better than all of you, and Israel is still kicking, and is the best country in the world except for maybe the United States. Arabs got picked on and they blow themselves up while the Jews won a bunch of Nobel Prizes. This was said by a rabbi.
Thursday-I have no idea because I was asleep. Given by an Episcopalian priest.
Friday-No church. Partaking in sinful activities with Girls' State such as meeting, talking, and viewing each other's ankles in Columbia.
Saturday-Graduation. No church, but 25 renditions of God Bless the USA.
The second biggest load of crap they came up with to keep us occupied was civic pride, giving out all kinds of awards for spirit, cleanliness, and athletic competitions. The biggest thing were the shouting matches. One city would walk up to another, or walk behind them if we were marching somewhere, and start chanting something about how wonderful their city was, or how much the other ones sucked. Such cheers were usually accompanied by clapping and jumping, and often became like mosh pits, and even almost became riots with the JCs having to break the groups up, as happened one time when our chant "If you want some, come and get some!" ellicited their invitation to cross an invisible line which I immediately stepped over to be shoved away by a 250 pound black dude, after which all hell broke loose in a completely harmless, but exciting scrum which our counselors quickly broke up.
Because I cannot even began to describe all the cheers that were used (I could never recall them all, and it would freeze up E2) I will describe some of the tactics used in the shouting matches, as well as some shouting wars we had. I came from the city of Saluda, and I have to say we were one of the most uncreative, uninspired groups out there, but we did have our moments. Every day at lunch, right before calesthenics, all the cities would gather and take turns mobbing the recreational director and screaming chants at him to vie for the spirit award, and the cities waiting their turns would turn on each other. On one particular occassion, us and the Enoree "Kings of Krunk" began a contest of vocals of us somehow denouncing their royalty, and it broke down into "Enoree suuucks!" *clap* *clap* *clap clap clap* "Enoree suuucks!" To which they answered "So does your mama!" *clap* *clap* *clap clap clap* This exchange continued and escalated.
"So does your daddy!!"
"How do you know?!"
"Your other dad told us!!"
"That's okay, that's alright, your sister's in my bed tonight!!"
And then our senior counselor came up with a comeback for which there could be no response.
"My sister's only ten!!"
That was one of the only few battles Saluda ever won, but it was a glorious one, in which we got nearly everybody to participate, and dealt a blow to our arch rivals.
The tactics of such conflicts heavily paralleled those of armed conflict. Having the high ground was always a plus: cities screaming from the safety of the upper floors of the barracks were rarely defeated. Also, one strategy used to high effectiveness at the onset of the week, but which for some reason was rarely seen after the first day or two, was to quickly surround a city and run circles around them screaming, much as horse riders of the steppes once encircled and then massacred beguilled foot soldiers of Mesopotamia and Europe. Resisting such an attack took a lot of discipline and quick thinking. The key to winning any battle was to quickly formulate new chants and comebacks on the spot, and making them loud. The group that lost would be the one who's chant got stale, fizzled out, and then was unable to rally a new chant. Our city did farely well by just staying out of a lot of the conflicts, or in some cases avoiding them altogether. Our coup de gras though, was when about six of us had gathered in the quad before calesthenics, and someone in our city dumped a trash can full of water onto Savannah and Enoree cities. Needless to say, they were pissed, and so they turned on us with their vicious chants, at which point Pee Dee actually came to our defense from the high ground and silenced them before they overwhelmed our helplessly small number.
Many awards were given out over the course of the week during the daily awards ceremonies held at five o'clock right before supper. These included 2 clean city awards, 2 cleaner cities awards, and 2 cleanest cities awards, which are issued to the cities who clean their rooms best in the morning. Also 2 spirit awards, and 2 more spirited, and 2 most spirited awards were handed out on a day to day basis. Awards were issued for a daily win in the athletic playoffs that were going on all week for basketball, volleyball, and tug of war, as well as the everyday winner of the college bowl trivia competitions. On wednesday, the winner of the Boys' State mile received an award for his state, and the winner of egg toss, dizzy izzy, free style swim, backstroke, breast stroke, and butterfly, as well as whoever could do the most sit ups or push ups in two minutes. All these awards were issued as stickers which were placed on the banners of each city, the best three of which also received awards. The overall best city of the week was given the coveted All Marine City Award, which despite Savannah's utter dominance, was rightly granted to Ashley because of all the shit they took all week. ("Be embarressed, be ashamed, Ashley is a girl's name!!") So without further ado, here are all of the results that I have of the winners.
- All Marine City-Ashley
- College Bowl Champions-Edisto
- Tug of War Champions-Savannah
- Volleyball Champions-Savannah
- Boys' State Mile-My good friend Matt Strick; Wando
- 2nd place banner award-Tugaloo
- 1st place banner award-Cooper
Every day we had some kindof assembly at which we had some kind of political speaker address us and tell us about different stuff. Here's a brief synopsis of each day's speaker and speech.
- Sunday-Senator Lindsey Graham gave a speech which was about 50% making fun of senator Strom Thurmond who's office he took, and who was born during the American Revolution. The rest of the time he told us about not being afraid to fail because he made an 800 on the SAT and hey, look at him now. It was actually quite a good speech, but unfortunately I don't recall many of the specifics, so we'll move on to Monday.
- Monday-Representative James E. Clyburn was supposed to come, but was unable, so the JCs got together to make fun of Lindsey Graham's speech, as well as all the higher ups of the program. Also, Joseph D. Riley Jr. the mayor of Charleston gave a good talk about the challenges of running a city, as well as talking about how wonderful his city is. This was followed by a question and answer session.
- Tuesday-Stephen Benjamin, an attorney and former cabinet member spoke about the law, as well as his former political experiences, and how pleased he was to see the racial unity and overall energy he saw at Boys' State. One of the best speeches all week.
- Wednesday-Speeches given by candidates for the state offices. No speaker. Good speeches.
- Thursday-Lee Brandy the political analyst for the state newspaper came and told us a lot of dirty jokes about various congress people, and then talked about scandals the media had uncovered, and contended that the media had the duty to cover anything wrong a politician did if it interfered with their job. But, he believed, if one could have mistresses and drinking problems and still function, then the media had no right to mess with that. After he finished, Mrs. South Carolina and Mrs. Teen South Carolina came and spoke to us. I don't think they said anything of consequence, and I'm equally sure that they weren't brought so we could hear what they had to say. Some crap about how Boys' State produces great young men of character, the kind they would want to date. That was bull. I guarentee about half the guys there would've raped her in a second. The guy behind me said "Shut up bitch and just get on your knees." High character indeed.
- Friday-This last full day, both Boys' and Girls' State were blessed by getting to listen to Governor Mark Sanford. He must not have cared much about talking to us, because he gave the worst speech ever. Something about staying committed in which he drew on every movie ever including Rudy, Remember the Titans, and any other inspirational movie you can think of, as well as totally irrelevant personal experiences. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and believe he was unconcerned, rather than an idiot. Then that evening, we got to hear former NFL player and coach Sam Wyche at our banquet, and he was by far the best speaker of the week. He gave an excellent speech about commitment, tying in coaching stories, personal experiences, and a lot of humor, as well as showing us a cool magic trick.
- Saturday-We graduated, with a small farewell speech by director Allen Bosworth. That was it.
The Good and the Bad
The open toilet stalls, community showers, bad food, and sleep deprivation, were all totally tolerable, I will admit that, despite the initial gripping it elicited from many of us, myself included. The classes sucked, but what classes don't? Besides, unlike real school, we weren't obligated to actually learn it. Marching all around every five seconds got old pretty quick, as did wasting our time yelling at each other with gay chants, and doing "calesthenics" each day that I could do in my sleep, and I've fallen pretty well out of shape. I was however disappointed that this week the weight gym was closed, and so due to my inability to lift the previous week as well, my muscles feel dead, and it will take me a few weeks to get back up to par. The worst though, was seeing nothing but the massive white walls of the fortress barracks that make up the Citadel, and seeing no females but overweight, middle aged lunch ladies for seven days on end. It felt like a prison by the end.
There was of course some good stuff. I met a lot of great guys there, who hopefully I will keep in touch with. Running for offices was always fun, even though I lost all four I ran for. The governor primary was the best, because the speeches were great, and there's no shame in losing to the best in the state. Plus it was the only one that wasn't pure popularity contest. The absolute best though was the trip to Columbia on Friday. On the way up we watched Changing Lanes which despite not being that great had been on my "to see" list for a while, and a lot of funny conversations were held all around with the two billion inside jokes we'd built up over the week. When we got there, we got to meet Girls' State and trade t-shirts with them during lunch. I was chosen by this pretty young lady named Margot who had the most beautiful grey eyes I have ever seen. We talked for nearly thirty minutes over lunch, which I only took one bite of, fighting desperately not to get lost in her eyes, which I thought would be rude. I found out she was a writer and told her to come here, which she agreed to. If only she lived in Anderson...
The ride back from Columbia involved Joe Dirt and more inside jokes, and was a fitting end to the week.
There were other cool things too, such as the skits the JCs put on, as well as the talent show on Friday night which involved a lot of good singers, guitar players, and even some comedians. Those were all a lot of fun. Even the inter-city shouting matches were pretty fun to get into as long as it wasn't overdone. And did I mention free time? Three words: pick-up soccer. Everyone else played those other sports or slept or called girls on their cell phones. But this was always a pretty fun time. All in all I have to say despite the fact that I absolutely hated the week, it was worth going to, if only just to meet my old friends from around the state and meet new ones, and learning about politics and power. When I rule the world, let it be said my megalomania began here.
"I don't want to be your Neo. I want to be your Morpheus!" -Anonymous Lt. Governor candidate nicknamed "Chosen One"
"I don't really like dead bodies, but I will deal with them if I have to." -Anonymous Rutledge County coroner candidate
"These boys are really cool, and they sure are good at sports. They call themselves men but they take showers in their shorts!" -Insulting poem by a Senior Counselor during the final skit.
"Hoonta want Gene. Hoonta want more head." -"Hoonta" asking to see Assistant Director Gene Moorehead.
"Former vice-president Dan Quayle once said, 'One word sums up my responsibilities as vice-president of the United States: and that one word is, to be prepared.' Dan Quayle was an idiot." -Anonymous Governor candidate
"I may have made an 800 on the SAT, but I can bench 95 now. You could say I've finally come around." -JC making fun of Lindsey Graham in a daily skit.
"We're all in love with Britney Spears, we've loved all girls for years. Except for those from Ashley cause they're all a bunch of whoops!" -Senior Counselor in their final skit.
"Gene ate my hot dog that bastard!" -Parody of Sinclair Lewis by Scott Fitzgerald.
"This Friday I wish you all the sex, I mean, success, at Girls' State." -JC mocking Lindsey Graham's speech of the night before.
"Senator Strom Thurmond received an irate call from a woman asking what he planned to do about the pending abortion bill. 'Pay for it, and I'll reimburse you later,' was his reply." -Lee Brandy political analyst.
"Okay, I'll admit, I've been pissing blue all week." -Federalist adult party leader, commenting on the strength of the Pure Blue Energy drink.
"There are only two things in life to worry about. You're either healthy, or you're sick. If you're healthy, no problem. If you're sick, you've got only two worries. You'll either get better, or you'll die. If you get better, you've nothing to worry about. If you die, you've got only two worries. You either go to heaven, or you go to hell. If you go to heaven, no worries. If you go to hell, you'll be too busy shaking hands with all your friends, so you'll have nothing to worry about." -Attorney Steven Benjemin
We hope you've enjoyed your stay at the Citadel