In the era of Red States and Blue States, Republican strongholds like our state of South Carolina are considered the reddest of the red. For over three decades, Republicans have been on the rise in South Carolina, and our commitment to conservative solutions has earned a national reputation. This strong and unwavering commitment to faith, family, freedom and free-markets has made South Carolina a destination state for businesses and conservatives from around the country. This status, however, may be threatened if an emerging schism in the SCGOP grows into an outright rift.
I am a reform minded conservative, who has long believed that the SC Legislature is filled with so-called conservatives who do not live up to their pledges and promises during Republican primaries. This gap between campaign rhetoric and governing in Columbia has been a great source of frustration for me, as I want our Republican majority in the state legislature to govern like a conservative majority. Unfortunately, however, too many members haven’t for too many years. Out of control spending, inaction on pro-life legislation and outmoded and outdated structures in state government has held back real reforms in South Carolina.
In light of such convolution in Columbia, it is understandable that many grassroots conservatives are frustrated that South Carolina’s Republican majority in Columbia isn’t always that conservative. Because of our stellar US Congressional Delegation, South Carolina conservatives have a right to expect such exemplary and principled leadership at the state level. That change is coming, as the SCGOP is becoming more committed to conservative values and solutions, but it has not yet been fully realized. While our state has always been conservative, the good-ole-boy system in Columbia has been hard to overcome. But overcoming it we are.
In fact, strong and consistent conservatives like SCGOP Chairman Chad Connelly have fought to hold Republican elected officials accountable, and strengthen the SCGOP’s party platform. Under Chad’s leadership, School Choice is an official plank in our state party platform, racist and liberal Senator Jake Knotts has been defeated and our state is a national voice for freedom. In light of such accomplishments, I’m amazed that some grassroots groups are threatening to effectively destroy the SC Republican Party, by attempting to take-over the party and end our primary process.
While I believe South Carolina Republicans should fight for registration by party, to ensure that the Republican Primary is participated in by actual Republicans, I reject outright the call by some groups to scrap the primary process altogether and allow the state GOP convention to pick our candidates. Such a move would bring back the days of smoke-filled rooms and secret political deals; it would destroy the grassroots of the SCGOP, and would crush the conservative movement in the Palmetto State. These sorts of proposals, while born out of understandable frustration with state government, will only exacerbate the problems they’re designed to remedy.
What South Carolina conservatives need to stop doing is cannibalizing our own, like Chad Connelly, and start working toward real reforms. These reforms should include registration by party, government restructuring and changes in the rules of the SC State Senate. Instead of beating up good men like Chad, who have been in the trenches for the cause of freedom their entire lives, we should focus our frustration on the right aim: the big government liberals in the SC Democratic Party who are hoping to exploit our party’s civil war to recapture South Carolina. If they can claim a nationally known conservative stronghold, it would be the grand prize for the liberal left. Such success by the Left in South Carolina would have horrible consequences for South Carolinians, and freedom loving Americans across the country. We simply can’t afford to allow this to happen.
Let’s stand for reform in the SC Republican Party, not outright replacement.