I am a lifelong Palmetto State Republican, who is so deeply proud of the accomplishments of our great state. As I often say in speeches and on the radio, I truly believe South Carolina is the greatest state in the Union. We have many reasons for loving our state, but our strong culture and values are tops on my list. As a South Carolina Republican, however, I must also say that I believe it is time for my party to take a long, hard look at recent events within our movement…good and bad. I’ll be the first to say that I believe South Carolina is better off, and has greatly prospered, under strong conservative leadership. Limited government, business-friendly policies, and our commitment to the rights of the individual have lifted the fortunes of our state, and these are clear results of our long-time Republican majority. For this reason, I pray that South Carolinians will continue to support a conservative governing philosophy going forward. At the same time, I also recognize that our Republican majority must continue to earn this opportunity to lead, by getting our house back in order.
Over the past several years, we have witnessed high-profile leaders in our state, from Lt. Governor Ken Ard, to now former House Speaker Bobby Harrell, fall from grace. There are numerous explanations and iterations of their stories, but the theme remains the same: overconfidence has led to a loss of humility and the committing of many mistakes. I’m a big believer in the book of Proverbs, which teaches us that “when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” This is a lesson for each of us, but particularly those in a position of public trust. When the privileges of power crowd out a person’s better judgment, it is time for them to step-aside for the sake of the larger cause.
Our state and nation are faced with challenges never before seen in our lifetimes. From crushing federal debts and a stagnant national economy, to continuing challenges in Columbia, the stakes couldn’t be higher. When the stakes are this high, our conservative leaders’ character must match them. That’s why I call on great leaders in state government, from SC Governor Nikki Haley to House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister, to pick-up the torch of pro-growth, pro-family, pro-freedom policies in this state. We Republicans have the message our state is still waiting for, and that our state still so desperately needs. In order for that message to prevail, however, we must have people of integrity in the position to lead. The SC GOP should lead the charge for real ethics reform this coming legislative session, so that this great state might be spared the specter of investigations and resignations with such frequency in the future.
If the SC Republican Party isn’t willing to police itself, then the voters of South Carolina may lose confidence in our message, and that isn’t something our state can afford. If big spending liberals like Vince Sheheen ever take the reins of state government, the progress we’ve made over the past two decades will fade like a bittersweet memory. Our state’s economy will pay the price, and the values most South Carolinians hold dear will suffer in state government. In this serious time, we need serious people to lead the conservative movement in our state. I’m thankful for so many dedicated public servants in the SC House and Senate GOP Caucuses, and for leaders like the Governor and our fantastic congressional delegation of folks like Tim Scott, Trey Gowdy, Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney.
The way forward for South Carolina Republicans is recommitting our movement to the core principles that have made our party dominant in the Palmetto State: free markets, families, and freedom. If we stay focused in this winning message, and police our own party to hold those who abuse their positions accountable, I am confident that South Carolina will continue to move forward. This means putting principle above party, in the name of preserving both. The resignation of Speaker Harrell was a necessary first step, now the SC GOP needs to back Governor Haley and Majority Leader Bannister in passing real ethics reform as soon as possible.