Column: S.C. Democrats offer change from business as usual

  • Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013 5:28 p.m.

“We the People.” Individually, those are three very simple words, but together, that phrase has served as the foundation for the greatest democracy the world has ever known. It evokes our belief that by working together, we can responsibly create a brighter future. For more than a decade though, South Carolina has been the testing ground for a new, divisive style of politics that goes directly against everything inherent in those three words. And as a result, the entire state has suffered.

The record of “one-party control” in South Carolina demonstrates that business as usual is not working for the people of this great state. In order to get South Carolina back on the right track, we must begin to work together to build “a more perfect union.”

South Carolina’s voters have a choice in the upcoming elections.

This is a chance to do a performance review, evaluating the policies and leaders of each party to decide which party and its members really line up with what you believe in.

As Democrats, we believe in fairness and opportunity. Our country was built upon the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can achieve the “American dream” and create a better future for your children.

But right now, after 10 years of Republican leadership – and especially under Gov. Nikki Haley – South Carolina has one of the worst economic mobility rates in the country, and has been ranked as one of the hardest places to earn a living.

As Democrats, we believe in the South Carolina where a poor little boy in Orangeburg, like me, can grow up one day to become the first in his family to go to college, build a nonprofit to help thousands realize the dream of college, work on the floor of the House of Representatives, buy a home for his grandparents, and even become Chairman of a political party. Our leaders have stood up for opportunity for all.

S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen for the past seven years has led the fight to improve, and expand 4-year-old kindergarten to improve education, ensure fiscal responsibility, and expand opportunity for all South Carolinian children.

It’s about finding pragmatic solutions to build up and strengthen the American Dream – not allowing personal ambition and political rhetoric to get in the way of progress.

That requires real leadership, which we simply haven’t seen from the Republican officials over the last decade – Haley most of all.

We can do better. For too long, South Carolina has been the joke of late-night TV and at the top of all the bad lists while we ride the bottom of all the good lists.

Under a decade of Republican leadership, we’ve seen scandals, political corruption, waste of tax dollars, poor policies and just plain incompetence dominate. With this kind of track record, no wonder they so often talk about government being the problem.

We need to drain the swamp, fix our broken government and bring in new leadership.

We believe that government – with the right leadership – can be a part of the solution. With a common-sense approach, we can reduce waste, fraud and abuse, cut back on unnecessary bureaucracy and provide for the pillars of a strong economy and life in our state.

We don’t need more government, we just need the government we have to work smarter and more efficiently.

In essence, we need our government to work for us and not against us.

So as we stand at this crossroads, with a big decision ahead, I urge you to take a fresh look at the values and practices of each of the parties in South Carolina and how they line up with your values and expectations.

If you’ve had it with broken, secretive, incompetent government; if you believe we should do better than struggling schools, crumbling roads, and being one of the most difficult places to achieve the American Dream; then together let’s make a change.

I hope you’ll join us as we continue to expand the Democratic Party and build our organization for the 2014 elections. There’s a bright future ahead for South Carolina, and we believe we can get there together.

Jaime Harrison is chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.

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