Kara should go ahead and run for SOMETHING

She said that most of her original desire to run arose from a wish to raise the overall tone of politics. Only THIS much had to do with her personal encounters as a TV reporter with Jake Knotts.

As previously mentioned, I met Kara Gormley Meador over at Starbucks for coffee today, to talk about whether she is going to run for the state senate.

As you’ll recall, Ms. Meador had intended to oppose Jake Knotts in the GOP primary in District 23, but learned that she had been misinformed by officials who told her that she lived in that district, under the new lines. She thought she had done due diligence — she had even requested a new voter registration card, so she could have it in writing — but what she was told was wrong. Under the reapportionment, she will be in District 18, currently occupied by Ronnie Cromer.

So will she run against Sen. Cromer? She hasn’t decided. She said she even thought that maybe she would make up her mind while talking to me. I don’t know whether the talk with me helped, but in the end, for what it’s worth, I told her she should run — for something.

I say that not to endorse her over Mr. Cromer or anyone else. I just think she is a positive, energetic, knowledgeable young person who would be a positive force in our General Assembly.

Does that mean that I agree with her on everything? Hardly. As she wrote on this blog recently:

I’d like to try and propagate real individual income tax relief.

I’d like to dismantle or revamp the House and Senate ethics committee. As they stand, neither body has any teeth to penalize legislators when they act in an unethical or illegal manner.

I am for complete transparency.

I don’t believe our legislators should offer certain companies back room deals that include huge incentives and tax breaks to try and lure them to our state, while folks who have been doing business here for years get nothing.

I have a lot of thoughts when it comes to education. We need to analyze administrative costs and see where we can scale back or consolidate and make sure we pay our teachers a fair wage.

I believe in school choice to include the creation of more charter schools; and to allow children in rural public schools to have the same choices offered to students in other districts in their counties. For example: students in Batesburg-Leesville have only one elementary school in the district, but students in Lexington One have the chance to attend any of the districts elementary school if there is availability. I think a student should be able to cross district lines– especially if they are located in the same county.
(there’s a lot more to this– if you are interested I’d be happy to tell you more)

We need to cap government growth.

I feel that across the board cuts are a cop out. As a legislator in times like these, you need to make some tough cuts in order to pay the bills. I don’t use credit cards to pay for things I can’t afford. I don’t believe our legislators should spend money that way.
One way we could save money is by shortening the legislative session.

I also believe legislators should have term limits.

Those of you who know me can see some significant disconnects with my own positions on issues. For instance, as an ardent believer in representative democracy, I would neither unduly limit the voters’ ability to elect whom they like (term limits) nor use a mathematical formula to supersede the representative’s powers to write a budget (“cap government growth”).

Further, I see inconsistencies in her vision. Today, she indicated that she believed enough waste could be found in state spending to both fully fund the essential functions of state government (which she correctly describes as currently underfunded) and return enough money to taxpayers to stimulate our economy.

In a state as tax-averse as this one, there’s just not enough money there to have your cake and eat it, too, barring a loaves-and-fishes miracle. (OK, enough with the clashing metaphors.)

But she’s smart, she’s energetic, and she seems to have no axes to grind. I think she’d quickly see that you can’t do it all, and make realistic assessments of what can and should be done. Her disgust with the pointless conflicts of modern politics, and the way they militate against a better future for South Carolina’s people.

She worries about spending time away from her kids, but she wants a better South Carolina for them. And she made a point that I particularly appreciated. She said that when she wants a better future for her kids, she actually means that she wants a better one for all of the state’s kids — unlike so many other who say that. I nodded at that, because it took me way too long to realize years ago that when Mark Sanford wanted a South Carolina in which his sons could stay and have a bright future, he wasn’t referring to the boys as a microcosm — he literally meant that he wanted a better future for his sons, period. That’s the libertarian way.

Kara says she knows she sounds like a Ms. Smith Goes to Columbia, and she does. But I like that.

While she feels the pull of her children, “God has given me one life,” and “I’m extremely driven, and I love people.” She was bowled over by the enthusiastic response she got on Facebook that one day that people thought she was opposing Knotts. She told me that some of the folks she heard from were people she had reported on over the years, some of them crime victims (a particular interest for her) who appreciated having their stories told.

She likes the idea of being a voice for those who think they have no voices. “Maybe I should get in to prove to somebody that they could get in, too.”

There’s one thing that she and I agree on, based on our years of observing politics. In the end, character is everything — far more important than ideology or specific policy proposals. My impression is that Kara has the character to be a positive force in politics, whatever her current notions of specific policy proposals.

So I’d like to see her run — for something.

Throughout the interview, I could see the light of enthusiasm in her eyes as she spoke of the possibility of making a difference.

25 thoughts on “Kara should go ahead and run for SOMETHING

  1. `Kathryn Fenner

    Well, she sounds good–although I agree with you on the problems with her positions. I thought Nikki Haley sounded good at first, back when she was for on-the-record votes. Another attractive (-ish) Republican woman from Lexington, though?

  2. Steven Davis II

    How about a seat on her local school board, how about city council, how about one of the dozens of volunteer committees the city and county support, how about a position on Rotary or some other excuse to not work organization.

  3. Juan Caruso

    “…her original desire to run arose from a wish to raise the overall tone of politics.”

    [washingtonpost.com] “GOP US Sen. Snowe of Maine won’t seek re-election, cites Washington’s increasing polarization”, perhaps Kara Gormley Meador can save herself the heartache veteran politicians like Sen Snowe suddenly envision.

    On the other hand, perhaps someone at Collins & Lacy, P.C. had once encouraged Gormley Meador to run against Republican Jake Knotts for the rather obvious reason of his challenged collegiality.

    Alas, collegiality is the modern, liberal codeword for submission to the will of liberals, who have usually been lead (from behind) by lawyer-politicians. – Just an opinion.

  4. martin

    Well, why doesn’t she start at school board, city or county level?

    Why do these people not grasp that it would be beneficial to them, not to mention the citizens, the taxpayers, to learn something about how the state government affects schools, cities and counties before they decide to leapfrog to the state level and start writing laws for all?

    Maybe, if we had more legislators with city or county experience, they wouldn’t fight home rule type issues as hard as they do. Not to mention the benefits of having a first hand understanding of how what they do affects locals.

    But, you know, she sounds like just another right wing sound bite politician to me. Not a whole lot different from Nikki’s legislative talking points.

  5. Silence

    Being neighborhood president for two terms pretty much convinced me that I don’t want to run for higher office. I’m not 100% convinced though. That said, I agree with Steven & Martin. People who want to run for office should work their way up and get experience prior to going for the state house or an executive position. At a minimum, they should serve on an appointed board or hold positions on a few non-profit boards to show some commitment…
    Which I have.

  6. Julene

    “Kara should go ahead and run for SOMETHING”

    She absolutely should. She already has this finger gesture that SC politicians are obsessed with making down pat.

    What does it really mean? Is it code for “It’s a Small World, After All”?

  7. Phillip

    Julene, it means “by the time we get done shrinking government, you’ll be able to fit all of it inside a thimble THIS size…”

    And “character is everything” sounds sensible, except that people can no more agree on what constitutes “character” than they can on those other messy specific policy choices. In these parts, the constant equating of publicly-professed religious faith with character has led us to some pretty dubious choices in our leaders. Ditto the automatic equating of “military” with “character.” Since it is very hard for the public at large to read deeply enough into a public figure to discern true “character,” we (and Southerners are maybe the worst offenders at this) accept various shorthand symbols as sufficient tokens of the real thing.

  8. Brad

    Phillip, you can belittle it all you want, but character is what matters. Unless you are a reasonable, honest human being who can deal in a civil, good-faith manner with other people who may or may not agree with you, I’ve got no interest in you as a candidate — unless, of course, your opponent is worse.

    Policy positions are window-dressing by comparison. And frankly, I would prefer that a candidate not be too specific about what he or she would do in office. Why? Because if they approach office in a thoughtful and open-minded manner (which for me speaks to character), then they truly don’t KNOW what they will do until they find themselves in the actual situations they will face in office, which are largely unforeseeable.

    The point, for me, is to pick someone I trust to make good decisions once in office — and the more they promise to do x, y, and z during the campaign, the less I trust candidates.

    A lot of people believe that one of the big problems in politics is that politicians, once in office, don’t do what they SAID they would do when they were running. I think a bigger problem is that they DO what they promised — because so many political promises are idiotic, and ill advised.

    If I were to make like JFK and write a latter-day Profiles in Courage, I’d probably write a chapter on George H. W. Bush going back on his “no new taxes” pledge. Or David Beasley deciding once in office to try to get the Confederate flag down (although I would then undermine the case by writing about how quickly he dropped the effort).

    I want officeholders to think, and learn. I want them to get into office and study and discuss and be big enough to realize, “OMG, I should never have made such a stupid promise, and it would be grossly irresponsible to keep it…”

  9. Brad

    Oh, another thing…

    If I ran for office, there’s be little point in running for school board or county council. I just don’t know those arenas well enough. I’ve never been to a Lexington County Council meeting — just never had occasion to — and the last time I attended a school board meeting in my district was… I forget, but I’m going to guess 15 years ago. Larry Marchant was the chairman at the time, if that’s a clue.

    But I know the Legislature very well, having much longer association with it than most of the people who serve there now. More importantly, I have an understanding of state issues that is vastly greater than my knowledge of county or school district concerns.

    So the most logical thing for me to run for would be something at the State House. And the second most logical would probably be Congress — again, I’ve had occasion to study national and international issues more extensively than most people who run for that level of government.

    To some extent, the same can be said of Kara.

  10. `Kathryn Fenner

    But Phillip is not saying character doesn’t matter. He’s saying it’s very difficult to gauge, and we have done an especially poor job of gauging around here. We use faulty stereotypes such as military experience and willingness to exploit one’s alleged religious beliefs.

    Bill Clinton actually worked and played well with the other side–passing Welfare Reform, for a start. Yet most people would fault him on character.

    George W. Bush may have had the local version of good character (no real military service, but he probably didn’t cheat on his wife and probably was clean and sober), yet many of us believe he lacked true character–the ability to truly evaluate situations (WMD, Katrina recovery) rather than just lazily relying on what he was told…..

  11. Brad

    I was trying to sidestep the Kulturkampf issue, but since it’s been brought up a second time…

    I think if you divided the world into those with military service and those without, on average, you would probably find a greater correlation with qualities most of us would associate with good character on the “yes” side of that equation.

    That would be true if only because the military weeds out felons, but there would be other reasons as well. You would particularly see a higher degree of understanding — again, on average — that there are societal aims that rise above individual wants and desires, and should be given due respect by those who hold political office.

    There was an interesting passage in Stephen Ambrose’s book, D-Day, in which he discussed a statistical analysis of the average American soldier in that conflict. Even though we think today of that being a time when EVERYBODY served — or all men, anyway — the fact is that even then, to a certain extent, the Selective Service WAS selective. Therefore the average draftee was a little taller, bigger, stronger and better-educated that the average male citizen.

    Not that all soldiers were giants or geniuses — they were actually small by today’s standards, and high school was about as far as most had gotten. But on average, they were bigger, stronger, smarter, because the extremes at the other end were weeded out.

    It’s reasonable to assume a similar phenomenon with character traits.

    Given the mechanisms that weeded out antisocial and uncooperative tendencies, I think you’d probably find a similarly greater tendency to be someone who would serve well in, say, a legislative body, and feel a sense of duty to the voters and the community at large.

  12. Phillip

    Brad, Kathryn is correct: I’m not pooh-poohing character at all, just saying that that word means as many different things to as many different people as there are different opinions on various hot-button political issues. If you define character as “a reasonable, honest human being who can deal in a civil, good-faith manner with other people who may or may not agree with you,” then hey, I’m with you 100%. But others load that term down with much else that may or may not be indicative of great character to you or to me.

    On the military point, I’m more inclined to walk that one back a bit and say that, on average, military service does usually expose the individual to dealing with a diverse array of people from widely differing backgrounds…that by itself is essential to being able to develop one’s skills of empathy, for me the most important sign of “character” in any political leader, from school board to world leader.

  13. Steven Davis II

    But Brad, how do we as voters know how you’ll perform under pressure from those you serve with? If Jake Knotts calls you “Bowtie Boy” how do we know you won’t crouch back into the corner with your mouth tightly shut? Same for Kara… but maybe replace “Bowtie Boy” with “Smiley” or “Blondie”.

  14. Steven Davis II

    One of the listed on campaign documents is experience, how does being an ex-WIS reporter make her qualified to serve in a state office? If so when can we expect Dawndee Mercer-Plank to run for governor or US Senate?

  15. bud

    I think if you divided the world into those with military service and those without, on average, you would probably find a greater correlation with qualities most of us would associate with good character on the “yes” side of that equation.

    Prove it. That’s one of those comments that comes from life experience. I find people who experimented with illegal drugs while they were young but gave it up later in life to be far more qualified to serve in a leadership capacity than those who never used drugs. It all depends on life experience and who you associate with. And it’s completely subjective.

  16. Brad

    Bud, read what Phillip just said. He understands what I’m saying, and elaborates on it well.

    The part about “military service does usually expose the individual to dealing with a diverse array of people from widely differing backgrounds” is particularly on point, and reminds me of something.

    I believe that our politics started becoming dysfunctional, in the ways that I decry, when we ended the draft.

    Before that, you didn’t find many men (most officeholders today are men, and it was more true then) who had not spent at least a portion of their youth in the military. That certainly exposed them to having to work with all sorts of people from different backgrounds, but it did something else: it forged them into something larger than those differences.

    The WWII generation in particular may have had its political differences, but those guys understood that as a country, we all share interests. We may be liberals or conservatives or Northerners or Southerners or what have you, but they understood that they were Americans first. For those who served after the war, when the military was on the cutting edge of integration, it helped give black and white a sense of shared identity as well.

    As the first wave of young men who had NOT served (starting with those who were of an age to have served, but had not, such as Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich) arrived in the top echelons of political power in the country, they brought with them a phenomenon that we hadn’t seen among their elders… a tendency to see fellow Americans who disagreed with them politically as the OTHER, even as “the enemy,” and a practically dehumanized enemy — one that must be opposed at all costs.

    I mentioned Bill Clinton above, and he deserves credit for rising above that in many cases (welfare reform, deficit reduction) in order to accomplish things. And Newt Gingrich often worked with him to accomplish such goals.

    But below them, among the young guys coming up in politics — the ones hustling around statehouses and working in campaigns — there was a generation rising that really could not think of the OTHER SIDE as someone to be communicated with, much less worked with.

    I really believe that if those young guys had had the experience of being thrown together, outside of their communities, their cliques and their comfort zones, their heads shaved and put into uniforms, and required to work together in a disciplined manner toward common goals — THEY would be different, and consequently our politics would be different.

    Mind you, I’m not saying we should reinstitute the draft in order to make our politics more civil (although there may be other reasons to have one). But I am saying that I believe today’s extreme polarization is in part an unintended function of that development in our history.

  17. Steven Davis II

    “I find people who experimented with illegal drugs while they were young but gave it up later in life to be far more qualified to serve in a leadership capacity than those who never used drugs.”

    This explains a lot… don’t be bogarting the doobage bud.

  18. Ralph Hightower

    If Kara thinks that she can “reform” the General Assembly, then good for her.

    However, I think she’s been smoking something that’s not legal.

  19. Kara Gormley Meador

    Wow.. I’ve been tending to some sick children and I’ve missed a lot over the last couple of days. Ralph.. no time for that.
    Silence.. I have served and am currently serving on handful of different non-profit and for profit boards. I have made community service a priority in my life and volunteer to help out a number of organizations– even after TV. From Alive at 25 to SCVAN, NAMI, Winston’s Wish Foundation, Special Olympics.. the list goes on. As for my life in television, it wasn’t just sitting behind a camera and reading from a teleprompter. I spent most of my time in television out in the field meeting people from our state. I met many people on the worst days of their lives, some of them on their best days. I also spent a lot of time looking at legislation as it passed its way through the house and the senate. When you are reporting on legislation you have to read it and understand it enough to explain what is happening to the public. You have to become an expert in what is happening in the State House under deadline pressure. I have an appreciation for what lawmakers do and I respect all of them for their service. (yes, even Senator Knotts) However, over the years I have noticed a change in leadership.. or maybe I have just grown up. I am tired of seeing our wonderful state failing to reach its potential while our lawmakers investigate each other and waste taxpayer money on senseless lawsuits or play party politics to our detriment. What can I say, I love our state, I love my children, I think we can do better. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think it’s an asset not to be a career politician and not feeling like I owe somebody because they have helped me climb the ranks from school board through county council.
    Juan.. I was disheartened to read about GOP US Sen. Snowe. You’re right, maybe if I did get in and win, I’d end up throwing in the towel like she did feeling as if our country is too far gone, that our politicians are too corrupt. I guess I’m still naive enough to think that good will conquer evil. I have to wonder what would happen if “real” people like all of us, instead of talking about how bad things are, took a chance, got into the ring and ended up making change.. however so slight.

  20. Kathy

    Maybe that’s one of the reasons why our state legislature and executive branch are so ineffective in addressing serious problems and so effective at making things worse: I believe that candidates for state offices should understand quite a lot about county and school district issues. Those officials certainly have little or no hesitancy in passing law after law that make it increasingly more difficult for county governments and school districts to operate. I dare say there are not over a dozen people in the state house who truly understand the financing of school districts. Maybe if our “leaders” were more knowledgeable, “things” would be working out better for our state. You don’t think Miss Kara would end up being another Mark Sanford or Nikki Haley, do you? I have serious concerns about that.

  21. Julene

    Phillip —

    re: “various shorthand symbols as sufficient tokens of the real thing”

    We all know what she’s measuring now and whose [the either/or incumbent] she is implying can fit in a thimble.

    Maybe she should run for that (rhymes with dock treasurer).

  22. Steven Davis II

    Brad, why do you allow people to keep commenting on topics that were dead months ago?

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