The new party’s principles and platform

Lovelace

Lovelace addresses the meeting.

First, some news I found particularly welcome: The name that Jim Rex and Oscar Lovelace have proposed for their new political party, which had its initial public meeting today in the Tapps building downtown, is negotiable, or as one of them said, a “first draft.”

Good, thing, too. Not only does “Free Citizens Party” sound like it could have been one of the contenders for the Tea Party’s name, it doesn’t represent at all what they’re trying to accomplish. But they rejected a far more descriptive name — Common Ground — because they couldn’t get ownership of it. Ditto with another name they liked (and for the best of reasons, because it expressed what we all have in common, rather than what divides us), “American Party.” What they didn’t mention was that that would have been a bad idea because of the unfortunate association with George Wallace.

But more than that, the name puts them on the wrong side — from their own perspective — of the constant strain between rights and responsibilities. As I’ve written so many times in the past, one of the things contributing to the destructive polarization of our politics is that we couch far too many issues in terms of “rights,” which, being absolutes, are non-negotiable. Take the right to life vs. the right to autonomy/privacy. The right to health care vs. the right to be left alone. What we need more than anything is to stop demanding more and more personal rights — stop acting like a bunch of two-year-olds crying gimme-gimme — and think a bit more of our responsibilities as citizens.

And indeed, Rex and Lovelace spoke repeatedly of the lack of responsibility in our politics. First, there is the abdication of responsibility of disengaged citizens who are turned off by politics and leave our public life in the hands of the squabbling ideologues (which this new party is intended to address by providing a new challenge to involvement for the disaffected). Then, there is the lack of responsibility of the parties, which concern themselves only with winning, and stick by the very worst of their members. Then, there is the lack of responsibility to the people on the part of elected representatives, who grow complacent in their “safe” seats (at least, that’s how Rex and Lovelace see it).

At one point, Rex even invoked one of my alternative names for the UnParty — the Grownup Party. And that leads directly to the problem with naming the kind of party we really need in this state and country (which, I believe, is what Rex and Lovelace are trying to create) — if you call it the “Responsibility Party,” or the “Grownup Party,” it’s not exactly going to set a focus group on fire. Too much like “Eat Your Vegetables.” And yet that is exactly what we need — an “Eat Your Vegetables” party.

As for the “Citizens” part: Again, this is not about “I’m a citizen and therefore I’m entitled,” the way I hear the word used by some nativists. In fact, in explaining the name, the two principals invoked “the Greatest Generation” — people who paid a price for our freedom, who fully embraced the responsibility inherent in citizenship.

Anyway, just to get the ball rolling, Lovelace and Rex are calling this the Free Citizens Party, and they’ve put some ideas into writing, which invites us all to shoot at them. So, with a minimum of commentary, I’ll pass on what they’ve sent up the flagpole.

First, there are their four party principles:

  1. Legislate and govern from the middle.
  2. Increase economic competitiveness.
  3. Term limits — public vs. self-service (their words, of course, not mine at all, as I see this as their most problematic proposal)
  4. Increase responsibility/accountability. (There’s that word.)

Then, they presented their Eight Platform Priorities:

  1. Decrease national debt through balanced approach.
  2. Strong, choice-driven public school system/early education. (Public school choice, you’ll recall, was a priority of Rex’s as superintendent.)
  3. Efficient, effective healthcare. (To bring in Dr. Lovelace’s particular area of concern.)
  4. Reform campaign funding/transparency.
  5. Ethics reform legislation — state and federal.
  6. Support 2nd Amendment w/ reasonable regulations. (Rex stressed that, being a hunter, he has “a lot of guns.”)
  7. Simplify tax code — promote work, saving, investment.
  8. Comprehensive immigration policy reform. (They brought up an argument for strong borders that I don’t recall hearing advanced before — their concern for public health, wanting to prevent the spread of pandemics.)

After presenting all that, the two masters of ceremony entertained questions and comments from the audience for quite some time.

About that audience — I’m thinking fewer than 100, but not a bad turnout for something that had so little publicity. It was mostly middle-aged (in other words, Grownups), although there were a few who didn’t fit into that category. Based on the questions and comments, a serious, thoughtful bunch who are frustrated with the status quo. (And guess who came up and introduced himself afterwards? Our own “tired old man!”)

Lovelace pointed out that no one should be discouraged about the turnout. He said this group was bigger than any county GOP gathering he ever spoke to during his run for governor in 2006. And Rex chimed in that he had the same experience as a Democrat. Their point being that if the existing parties are so formidable, their county gatherings should be bigger than this fledgling meeting.

Before I close this report, a word about their embrace of term limits, which I believe is based in a misdiagnosis of what is wrong. Rex at one point spoke of how offensive the term “safe district” is, and he’s right. But he misses what is most offensive about it. The main problem is not that a district is safe for the incumbent (although the courts allowing incumbent protection as a basis for reapportionment is a problem). The problem is that it is drawn to be safe for a party. And the more extreme the two parties get in their polarizing ideologies, the worse the representation will be from that district.

Rex

Rex walks through the eight platform priorities.

Rex speaks of the complacency of incumbents in “safe” districts. I don’t see them as complacent at all. I see them running like scared rabbits, constantly building their “war” chests to protect themselves, and against what? Not a challenger from the opposite party, or from some moderate independent. They’re protecting themselves against a challenge from someone in their own party who is more extreme than they are. They do two things to protect themselves from this — they raise money, and they become more extreme themselves, in their words and in their actions.

And how do they raise money? They do it by constant appeals to their own partisans, making wild charges against the opposition, stirring fear and loathing in their bases. And that is the problem — that the current system rewards polarization and gridlock for their own sakes. They are good for the business of politics. And johnny-come-latelies are just as guilty of taking advantage of this dynamic as are incumbents. That is the cycle that must be broken by a party that appeals to reason, to moderation, to the interests that we all have in common rather than what divides us.

If incumbents are replaced, who replaces them? Not some Mr. Smith goes to Washington, but a partisan who convinces the primary voters that he’s more extreme than the incumbent. Think what happened to Bob Inglis. Or any of those incumbents either taken out by, or seriously threatened by (which in turn affects their behavior and makes them more extreme), Tea Partiers in recent years.

Anyway, enough about that. For now. These guys are trying to do a good thing, and they have enough of an uphill climb without me carping about the details. They’re shooting for the 10,000 signatures to get their party on the ballot by the 2014 election — really 12,000, given that many signatures get successfully challenged.

And they know that’s not easy. Dr. Lovelace ended the meeting with a quotation from Machiavelli:

It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new…

Obviously, they have not hired a political consultant, or they wouldn’t go around quoting Machiavelli. But the point is dead-on. I know, from the unsolicited feedback I’ve gotten over the years from all sorts of thoughtful, rational people across this state — like the strangers who come up and tell me how much they agree with what I write — but they’re seldom the ones who stand up to be counted. It’s defenders of the status quo, and at least as bad, the advocates of terrible ideas for change, who have all the passion. The people who simply want rational, responsible government don’t storm barricades, or make demands. They make for lukewarm advocates.

As it happened “tired old man” had brought with him a printout of a Yeats poem that I think makes the point better than Machiavelli did (not least because it doesn’t have Machiavelli’s name attached). I quoted it not long ago here on the blog. The relevant passage:

… Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

That’s my experience. What we need is for the best to embrace conviction, and advocate for rational government with passionate intensity. Good for Rex and Lovelace for trying to get that going.

crowd

A portion of the modest crowd that attended.

57 thoughts on “The new party’s principles and platform

  1. Doug Ross

    As long as Harrell, Leatherman, and McConnell are running the show, little will change. You want to change politics in South Carolina, focus 100% of your efforts on taking them out. Otherwise it’s just a waste of time. No politician appears willing to talk about the holy trinity.

    Also – judging by the diversity displayed in your photo, this new party is going to be shooting for the 10% of white Democrats who like guns.

  2. Doug Ross

    And what’s your definition of middle-aged? That photo looks like the crowd skewed closer to 60 than 40.
    Can you start a new party when the two leaders are 62 and 54 years old? Who are they going to attract that is younger than 40?

  3. die deutsche Flußgabelung

    This experiment is doomed to fail because of Duverger’s law, which states an electoral system using first-past-the-post voting with single member districts favors a two party system. Also the way America’s political system is structured (i.e. popular-elected executive) it only makes it much harder to have a relatively successful third party. I am surprised they wouldn’t include electoral reform like instant voter runoff or proportional representation in their platform.

    Also their party’s nascent party platform seems to be GOP-lite. Austerity instead economic growth, school choice instead of fixing the current system, “efficient, effective healthcare” without universal access, and a “simplified” tax code meaning lower taxes on the wealthy and well-connected while screwing the little-guy. And enough with term-limits there isn’t any study that has proven term-limits fixes partisanship, diversity, or overall legislative efficacy or effectiveness. If anything legislative term-limits increases partisanship since party leadership and committee positions are no longer based on seniority, but on who has the most wealthy friends and who can come up the best soundbite for the local news.

  4. bud

    What we need more than anything is to stop demanding more and more personal rights.
    -Brad

    Out of all the many things Brad has articulated over the years this is probably the one I disagree with the most.

  5. bud

    I was so taken aback by this that I had to catch my breath before explaining. The very reason Brad can make such a provacative statement is simply that all the rights that he considers important are rights that he already has. Brad doesn’t have to worry about losing some right that is near and dear to his heart because the world in which he lives aleady assures those rights are protected. Unless you lose a particular right you have no business suggesting others should yearn for a right that they are denied. I find it very offensive for someone to preach about having too many rights when that very same person is denied nothing that they hold important. Just begin a discussion about the importance of limiting the size of ones family because the population is too hard and Brad will begin to howl about the intrusive nature of government. But since he is in no danger of being confronted with being denied such a right he can go on endlessly about “too many rights” . And I find that offensive.

  6. bud

    As for the new party, it really doesn’t seem to add much of an option for the voter. Seems mostly like a bunch of bland platitudes that don’t seem to address any problem in any meaningful, concrete way. But since this is just the first meeting I’ll keep an open mind to any specific proposals they offer in the future.

  7. Doug Ross

    On term limits – why is better to have a term limited governor and a non-term limited legislature? I think the reverse would be best. The state as a whole can decide if the governor is doing well while legislators only need to win a very small percentage of voters to retain power.

  8. Brad Warthen Post author

    I don’t “go on endlessly about ‘too many rights’.” In fact, I don’t go on at all about it. I said nothing of the kind. I DO say that when I look out upon our state and nation, I certainly don’t see a lack of rights as being the big challenge facing us. Whereas libertarians do. So do “liberals” and “conservatives.” In fact, they use the emotions surrounding absolute “rights” in order to whip up their bases and keep the money flowing in.

    I also said that Rex and Lovelace have little to say about “freedom” or “rights,” beyond their mention of the 2nd Amendment. Therefore making “free” the first word in their name is misleading. They are far more about responsibility.

    Also, Bud, you are wrong to impute selfishness to me on this — I refer to your suggestion that if some “right” that was important to ME were involved, etc.

    Y’all know how strongly in favor of a single-payer health care system I am. But I think it is wrong to couch it in terms of a RIGHT to health care. In fact, that’s not even at issue — we’ve established a “right” to health care, in that emergency rooms can’t turn patients away. What this has done is create a huge liability that we all pay for. I’m for single-payer because it’s a more rational way to handle the delivery of health care, it gives us a healthier population and is better for our economy. These are simply worthwhile, responsible policy goals, and need to be debated on that basis.

    But we instead have a tendency to debate it in terms of competing “rights,” which causes the opposing sides to be intractable, to feel passionately rather than think clearly.

    It’s difficult to explain what I mean so that everyone understands what I’m saying, because we lack a common vocabulary for this. We are so accustomed to speaking in terms of the absolutes of “rights,” and of dividing ourselves into mutually exclusive warring camps, that it’s hard to describe the kinds of dynamics that lead toward, if not consensus, then at least a more functional shared public life.

  9. Doug Ross

    As a libertarian I wouldn’t say we have too few rights. I would say we have too many laws that infringe on those rights and too many government bureaucrats whose sole function is to create rules and regulations that impede progress. Obamacare is the perfect example. Far too specific for what was required.

  10. bud

    Brad, something you WOULD regard as a right is the freedom to decide how many children to have. If the government came up with a decree stating that no one will be allowed to parent more than 2 children you would find that highly offensive. Yet that is just the kind of communitarian action that was taken in China to prevent over population. If over population creates a severe burden on our society it may be necessary to make some hard requirements to ensure the situation doesn’t get out of control. Fortunatelly we don’t have to face that here but what if we did? Would the right to choose family size be an issue? You can bet your bippie it would.

  11. Brad Warthen Post author

    It’s not going to happen here, Bud, precisely BECAUSE it would be so inimical to the “leave me alone” nature of our society. It’s an issue in China because of the kind of oppressive government they have there. It will never be an issue here because we are a society that wouldn’t entertain the thought for a minute.

    That, and the fact that the numbers are running the other way. There was a fascinating piece in The Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks back about the problem — and it is indeed a problem, economically and otherwise — in our national plunge below replacement rate, to the point that our aging population is on its way toward the kind of demographic doldrums that now afflict the Japanese.

    An excerpt:

    For more than three decades, Chinese women have been subjected to their country’s brutal one-child policy. Those who try to have more children have been subjected to fines and forced abortions. Their houses have been razed and their husbands fired from their jobs. As a result, Chinese women have a fertility rate of 1.54. Here in America, white, college-educated women—a good proxy for the middle class—have a fertility rate of 1.6. America has its very own one-child policy. And we have chosen it for ourselves.

    Forget the debt ceiling. Forget the fiscal cliff, the sequestration cliff and the entitlement cliff. Those are all just symptoms. What America really faces is a demographic cliff: The root cause of most of our problems is our declining fertility rate.

    The fertility rate is the number of children an average woman bears over the course of her life. The replacement rate is 2.1. If the average woman has more children than that, population grows. Fewer, and it contracts. Today, America’s total fertility rate is 1.93, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; it hasn’t been above the replacement rate in a sustained way since the early 1970s…

      1. Steve Gordy

        What the WSJ commentator was whingeing about was (on the surface) that our (internal) population growth has dropped below the replacement rate. Yet as conservatives endlessly remind us, folks are clamoring to get into the U.S. As long as that situation continues, population stagnation is not a serious problem, unless of course your real concern is that too many of the wrong kind of people want to move here. I don’t believe you believe that.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, actually, he takes that into account, and says we can’t rely on that influx helping us in the long term:

        In 1970, the Mexican fertility rate was 6.72. Today, it’s just at replacement, a drop of 72% in 40 years. Mexico used to send us several hundred thousand immigrants a year. For the last three years, there has been a net immigration of zero. Some of this decrease is probably related to the recent recession, but much of it is likely the result of a structural shift.

        As for the Hispanic immigrants who are already here, we can’t count on their demographic help forever. They’ve been doing the heavy lifting for a long time: While the nation as a whole has a fertility rate of 1.93, the Hispanic-American fertility rate is 2.35. But recent data from the Pew Center suggest that the fertility rate for Hispanic immigrants is falling at an incredible rate. To take just one example, in the three years between 2007 and 2010, the birthrate for Mexican-born Americans dropped by an astonishing 23%.

  12. Lynn T

    Demographic doldrums are a serious problem for economies around the world, and the problems will increase through time. We could face some painful adjustments in our lifetimes. However, never-ending population growth is not the answer. We can hope that people around the world, including here, will have the sense to limit their families and face the needed changes now rather than having catastrophic situations reduce population indiscriminately in the future.

  13. Brad Warthen Post author

    I don’t mean to start us on a tangent, though. If there’s interest in the population thread, I’ll do a separate post (which I almost did when I read it, but held back because I didn’t want to start a skirmish in the Culture Wars).

    I think this new party deserves our attention, without going off on a digression like that.

  14. Brad Warthen Post author

    And on that note…

    I think it’s probably hard for a lot of us to engage with what Rex and Lovelace are doing until we see more. And “more” doesn’t necessarily mean more platform planks or statements of principles. “More,” to me, will mean seeing their candidates. They didn’t really talk about that much, and I think they think that’s putting the cart before the horse.

    But for me, as disenchanted as I am with parties qua parties — as accustomed as I am to picking candidates on the basis of their individual qualities, rather than their affiliation — it’s about the candidates. Let me see them, and observe them, and quiz them, and then I’ll know what I think. And in fact, what I am most likely to find is that I’ll like some of their candidates and not others.

    And to their credit, Rex and Lovelace say that’s fine. They got on the subject long enough to say that they’re totally cool with the idea that adherents (assuming “adherent” isn’t too sticky a word for something so non-exclusive) would not always vote for their candidates. They want people to vote for the best candidate in each case, even if that’s a Democrat or a Republican. Which is very UnParty of them.

    The only other thing I recall them saying about the kinds of candidates they want is that they want people who bring some expertise, who have accomplished something in the “real world” outside politics. In other words, I thought as they were saying it, people like them — a doctor and an experienced higher education administrator. This goes hand-in-hand with their distaste for people staying in office too long (although, before I forget, Rex did say they have no problem with someone serving, say, six years in the Legislature, then six years in Congress, then a term or two in the Senate, and then running for president if it goes that far — they just object to holding the same office too long).

    It occurs to me now that this requirement of theirs could doom their party to be even more of a “middle-aged” thing, if the candidates have to be a success at something else before they run for office. Which you can argue is a good thing, just as one can argue that it’s not…

  15. bud

    If I was going to found a new political party I’d call it the “Pragmatic Party” and try to push for policies that work best. I’d start by adopting a strong pro-freedom agenda that would ensure one always has complete control over decisions about their body. Then I’d address the problems associated with the failures of capitalism. Those problems take 2 forms. The first and most obvious are the spillover costs that results from a completely unregulated free market, pollution etc. Then the more subtle problem associated with income inequity. That is a toughy. As this applies to the Rex/Lovelace party I don’t see much that is new or compelling here. Seems like a mostly white, southern democratic party theme. Are they proposing a split from the main Democratic party with perhaps a few moderate Republicans thrown in? That’s the way this appears. Not sure that’s particularly pragmatic.

  16. Doug Ross

    “they just object to holding the same office too long”

    That’s my definition of term limits. You hold an office for a period of time and then leave. Up or out. You are welcome to come back to the office after sitting out one full election cycle. If you’re better than the guy who replaced you, you get to go back for X years.

    A sabbatical from public office would be a good thing every 8-12 years.

  17. Brad Warthen Post author

    The thing is, if I ran for Congress, I would term-limit myself. I wouldn’t make a promise or anything (I don’t like campaign promises), but it’s hard for me to imagine being able to stand Washington for more than a couple of terms, if that.

    That said, I don’t think I’d feel quite the same about service here in the Legislature.

    In any case, I’d rather it be up to the voters. I don’t like a statutory limit.

    Oh, and as for the difference between term limits for legislators and term limits for the executive. Well, don’t assume I’m convinced that they’re a good idea with the executive, either. But I can make the case for it. While there’s not a huge chance of it, you can make a case that a president, in particular, has the power to demagogue his way into becoming a tyrant.

    Actually, Mary Anastasia O’Grady had an interesting piece this morning about how Rafael Correa has managed to do that in Ecuador. If she had restrained herself from the silliness suggesting that Obama would be just as bad if not restrained by our Constitution (don’t WSJ writers ever get tired of that stuff?), it would have been a really good piece.

  18. Doug Ross

    The question I have is simple: Is South Carolina better off today with its abundance of legislators who have been in office for several decades?

    It’s fine to live in a dream world where elections matter and incumbents have no advantage. But we don’t live in that world. Once you’re in, it takes a lot of screwing up to get out.

  19. Tired old man

    I was determined to go to the new party meeting Sunday afternoon, and I did. I wished to address motivation and method, but I didn’t. So here goes.

    At best, it’s is a long shot and like most well-intentioned efforts will be vigorously punished. Its draft name – the Free Citizens Party – unintentionally echoes the historic African-American controlled United Citizens Party, which Wikipedia reports was organized in 1969 in response to the South Carolina Democratic Party’s opposition to nominating black candidates, adding, “The party’s objective was to elect blacks to the legislature and local offices in counties with black majority populations.” That party is paper thin now, but its objective is made whole in the personages of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, the black caucuses within the SC House and the SC Senate, US Rep. Jim Clyburn, and US Sen. Tim Scott. Sometimes the intrinsic – especially controversial ideas now universally regarded as admirable – outlives flesh and blood activism.

    The UCP coincided with the Republican Party rebirth. In 1966, the GOP fielded the first gubernatorial candidate in almost a century, followed in 1970 by fiery Albert Watson (who is the ideological grandfather of US Rep. Joe Wilson in that Albert begat Floyd Spence who underwent a heart-lung transplant in efforts to survive Joe) and then the arrival of our first modern Republican governor, Dr. James Edwards. I recall talking with a Republican member of the Georgia House in the early 70s, when the GOP could spare me a seat when they met in a couple of Waffle House booths and the Democrat who was speaker of the House pointedly would mutter “gnats” as he swatted the air about his face when a Republican dared rise to speak. At any rate, this Republican spoke wistfully of attaining relevance by forging an alliance with the Georgia black caucus so that their combined and coordinated votes could be a pivotal force in the particular legislative instance of determining the fate of gubernatorial vetoes that require two-thirds to override. Sometimes you can be relevant if you have a plan and are patient, and take baby steps.

    Sunday afternoon came about because the present political arrangement either cannot provide answers or is not concerned by questions, which the new party recognized in this succinct statement: “Neither the Republican nor the Democratic party is able or willing to change the inadequate status quo they have collaboratively created.” The political parties have institutionalized the science of campaigning, with its charts and polls, into the inexact art of governing with disastrous results, one of which is that every can is kicked down the road into the future — but not after a great deal of ideological posturing in the present, with media whoring, financial manipulation, and wasteful evaporation of the national spirit and resources. Regardless of their political affiliation, they together are the government – and you have to wonder why we run deficits if BOTH parties are opposed to deficits, why there is continuing talk of cuts to Social Security if BOTH are opposed them, why they have special retirement and insurance benefits if BOTH oppose those arrangements, and so on, and so forth.

    You could smell blood in the water Sunday. Because the Tea Party remains impetuous, impatient, and caustic while hinting of an independent future if the Republicans resist their allure, there is little future for a moderate Republican today, and fiscal conservatives despair at polling opportunities vandalized by ignorant, hurtful remarks by social conservatives. And the foreign policy conservatives weep, weep at the bizarre turn of Lindsey Graham from singular near-statesman to the lizard man of Palmetto political lunacy. Meanwhile, on the other side, Democrats either will not or cannot put up the meekest of Potemkin candidates to oppose weak Republican incumbents, with the notable and outrageous exception of Alvin Greene. They seem paralyzed by a continuing leadership argument largely won by a past-his-prime Dick Hartpootlian with the upshot that Phil Noble of the New Democrats is too busy to take him on again. Dick, meanwhile, is blissfully unaware that Don Fowler has created a regional resource for candidate recruitment. Yellow dogs have their tails between their legs because Poot won’t scoot and Noble is so much so that he won’t reopen festering wounds that cry, cry for painful but healing abraidment.

    No party will address grievous personal, ethical, and campaign finance issues that underlie the resignation of a lieutenant governor, a state treasurer, and an agricultural commissioner, not to mention a gaggle of sheriffs and other local politicians. Pick three cab drivers or three soccer moms for an admirable, working solution in minutes.

    A benefit of a new party, a true choice, would be to create a landing spot for reputable people who have the courage to leave the current parties. Ideology, after all, has become little more than an endless catechism, whose only hereafter is the perpetuation of robotic politicians, both personally and dynastically. Although political philosophy should reward and embrace the integers of character – honesty, judgment, and integrity – what passes for it today avoids issues and focuses on sound bites. A new party has to be more social movement than organized political activity. We gain nothing if we exchange one group of starched shirts and suspenders for another whose careers also wax and wane with the polls. The current arrangement, as William Butler Yeats observed, is that “the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand.”

    Sunday afternoon in downtown Columbia, listening to Oscar Lovelace and Jim Rex make a case for a moderate party, I saw people I knew to be conservatives and liberals. Mostly I saw pragmatic people nodding because they were frustrated at a world where common sense and common courtesy are no longer appreciated qualities. And I was reminded of another group, much less diverse, that met some time ago and pledged their lives and their sacred honor to right their world because it, too, was being manipulated and its values debased.

  20. Brad Warthen Post author

    I don’t know about the “Poot won’t Scoot” thing, Old Man. Our longtime blog friend Lauren Manning put out a release today saying that Jaime Harrison, the party’s first vice chairman, is running for SCDP chair and supposedly has the backing of “outgoing” chairman Harpootlian…

  21. tired old man

    Wonderful news that Lauren is getting active back home after her Washington sojourn. A changing of the guard at 1529 Hampton Street ought to shake things up over at the State GOP too. After all, we will have two first-time US House members (maybe three) and one first-time US Senator going up and quaking/shaking Lindsey Graham too — as well as the governor. Have not followed closely to see in 2014 will be the last time we elect the lt. governor or the first time we implement last fall’s constitutional amendment letting the governor name his/her running mate. All in all, that’s a lot of uneasy, uncertain candidates to be exposed to scrutiny. Should be some turbulent issues too. Excellent time for Oscar and Jim to be rattling the pots and pans.

    1. die deutsche Flußgabelung

      I wonder if they plan to exclusively run separate candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties or will they take advantage of the fact that South Carolina allows electoral fusion. Their party would probably be more successful, in the short-term, if instead of running candidates separate from the two major parties they acted more like a pressure group by nominating as their candidate, one of the candidates of the two major parties who adheres the most with their platform. In the state of New York both the Conservative Party and the Working Families Party do this often. In the long-term, after a few cycles of developing a natural political constituency and donor base then they could run candidates separate from the two major parties.

      1. tired old man

        I cannot speak for a party that is in the process of forming and will be working out specific positions. There is certainly value in electoral fusion, in being a pressure group that selectively supports those who will act ethically, be transparent, and embrace the broad goals of the party. Identifying them, and keeping them pure, may be the harder task.

        But there is also an adultration factor that ultimately diminishes the energies that are the catalyst for creating the party. Dr. Lovelace spoke of the frustration of dealing with a legislature and governor that ignored 80% statewide polling that backed bringing SC’s tobacco tax up to the national average and using those revenues to address health issues created by that product. Sometimes it may be a matter of all or none; other times the proper choice may be contributing to the successful resolution of issues that lift all boats. In SC’s case, we got 50% of the national average on an issue that had largely been settled socially.

        I was taken aback by how participants Sunday were immediately looking past formulation and organizational house-keeping issues and thinking larger, broader issues.

        If you think about it, America is pushing for an end to partisan bickering. Congress got tangled up in the year-end tax issues, but all the while the stock market was chugging into the neighborhood of all-time highs. Issues like the national debt are huge, but not so much when interest rates are near zero. And neither presidential candidate was talking last fall about doing more than arresting the growth of the $16 trillion debt rather than being more rational and saying we must both cut and tax to begin reducing the national debt — in fact “fiscal conservative” Mitt Romney wanted higher defense spending with details to come a few years down the road, but you had to take it on good faith (wink, wink) that he was the better choice. (Which is one reason why (wink, wink) he got his butt handed back to him in a croker sack.)

        The conversation America wants is the one where the politicians admit it is out of their control, and that it has to be taken out of their hands. Oscar and Jim talked about the sacrifices of the greatest generation, and how their defended values built this country’s prosperity. Our problem now is neither party will admit that there is a problem, let alone that sacrifice and delayed gratification will be required as part of the response.

        The American public is willing to pull back, to give up, to delay PROVIDED everyone does. The real issue is how to begin laying out the plan.

  22. Tired Old Man

    Aye, Don Quixote, and for all of that they will write a novel about you, and cast your name in a Broadway musical. And for those who watch you and snicker, there are other poems: “I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?”

    1. Doug Ross

      @SDII

      Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, give a man a free phone and he’ll call all his friends to get their free phones too.

      Imagine a country where kids go to bed hungry and can’t afford proper medical care but can get a free cellphone. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that one or more people in the government are making a ton of money from the cellphone providers to offer this “service”.

      When we talk about things the government can cut, this should be at the top of the list. A cellphone is not a necessity… and if it is, buy one instead of cable TV.

    2. Tired Old Man

      What’s the problem? The solution is clearly identified: The FCC said it is investigating allegations that some Lifeline providers violated the rules, though it declined to comment on that probe. Carriers that don’t properly confirm eligibility can be fined up to $150,000 for each violation for each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1.5 million. In egregious cases, a carrier could lose its ability to participate in the program.”

      Conservatives always want to bash the poor. Why not push the FCC to disqualify the carriers? After all, it is Wall Street that is getting the money from this program.

      1. Doug Ross

        The problem is that (as with most government programs) the ability to prevent fraud and abuse isn’t built into the system initially and then even more money is spent to track down the fraud and abuse.

        Please justify why anyone should get a free phone that can do anything more than call 911.

        It’s only millions of dollars… no big deal.

      2. Doug Ross

        Also, the program allowed the free phone recipients to self-report their qualification. “Why, yes, I am entitled to a free phone”. It was only after requiring them to prove it that the issue with massive fraud revealed.

        I can imagine this boondoggle involves lobbyist money from telcos going to congressmen who then fund government bureaucracies staffed with no-show workers who also receive kickbacks from cellphone makers all to give phones to people with questionable ethics. It’s the perfect liberal solution.

      3. Brad Warthen Post author

        I know zip about this issue beyond what I’ve read here on the blog. I had never heard of it beyond Steven bringing it up all the time.

        But out of that complete ignorance, I will answer one question Doug raises, “Please justify why anyone should get a free phone…”

        Just off the top of my head, I can think of one instance in which it might be a good idea: Giving a cell phone to an unemployed person who has no phone might be a better investment than an unemployment check, because it’s pretty tough to conduct a job hunt without a phone.

        1. Doug Ross

          Yes, how did we ever manage to find jobs without a dedicated ellphone? If you are unemployed and didn’t have a phone when you were employed, I don’t think a phone is going to make a difference.

          I’m sure there are plenty of places in the local government where job seekers could go and use a phone. In fact, the SC Dept of Employment has job centers throughout the state: http://dew.sc.gov/jobs-land.asp

          Or is it too much to expect someone to go to one of these centers to find a job?

          This is the standard “well, it’s not much money for everyone to chip in and it sounds like a good idea “. The problem is its millions of dollars being wasted.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            So, Doug, they go the centers, if they haven’t been closed by the governess yet, and apply. How does the employer contact them subsequently? The world is a lot different from how it was before everyone had a phone!

        2. Steven Davis II

          Fine, give the unemployed a phone to use while they’re eligible for unemployment. The day they go off, the phone gets turned off. No SmartPhones period, give them a phone with 12 buttons on it, text messaging turned off, 120 minutes of monthly outgoing calls and unlimited incoming calls per month. There are bums homeless standing outside the State Library smoking cigarettes while playing with their iPhone. Are these the people I should feel sorry for?

          1. Doug Ross

            Kathryn,

            You are focusing on rare cases.. the number of people who are on unemployment and do not already have nor never had a phone are very, very few.

            And what we see with the Obamaphones is that most of the people who got them shouldn’t have in the first place. Can you at least admit that?

  23. bud

    Not that I really can find fault with any of the criticisms of this program but seriously this seems like such a small thing for everyone to get so upset about. Why is it that the poor bear such a disproportionate amount of indignation over matters of government/business malfeasance? Seems like the rich are stealing many times more yet hardly ever get a mention. Let’s start with the big bankers, insurers and drug companies first. That’s where the real money is. A few folks with cheap cell phones is hardly worth 10 seconds worth of concern.

    1. Doug Ross

      It’s only millions of dollars, bud. Going to guess who? The rich corporations you hate. See how it works? If we stop the program, they won’t make so much obscene profit.

  24. tired old man

    I don’t know too much about the Obamaphone issue, other than seeing a few snide remarks in passing.

    I do know that a careful reading of the WSJ article leads to this statement of fact: “Carriers now have to check a state or federal social-service database to confirm eligibility and must reverify eligibility every year.”

    Don’t know if that solves the problem.

    I do know that an individual deliberately ripping off this program is a theft of $9.25/month, which falls into the misdemeanor category. Meanwhile, this program is one of the growth market areas in the cell phone industry, and the program costs are $2.2 billion with revenues coming from an assessment on all customers’ monthly bills.

    So, individually it is a misdemeanor. Collectively, when companies receiving millions do not vertify eligibility as required, it would seem to be absolute fraud. My objection is that when some people hear about this program they want to punish severely those individual misdemeanors and studiously avoid the industrial crime.

    And, having done some volunteer work helping people get jobs, I learned that things we take for granted turn the wheels of commerce. The common practice of emailing a resume or job application is an absolute obstacle without access to a computer or an email account. Not having a cell phone and thus not being instantly available to an opportunity means the opportunity slides down the list to the next person who is able to conveniently fit the employer’s schedule.

    Lot of truism to the saying you have to have a job to get a job.

    1. Doug Ross

      There we go.. it’s not a real crime, just a misdemeanor. I’ll be sure to teach my kids that stealing 9.25 a month is okay as long as you can get away with it.

      What is your limit for theft that starts to question whether a person is worthy of employment? If you give one of the phone recipients a job and he steals 9.25 a week from the cash register, do you just say “well, at least its not more than that”?

      Seriously, the liberal value system is screwed up. Theft is okay, crossing borders illegally is okay, voting without proving who you are is okay, abortion is just birth control…

  25. Doug Ross

    And it’s the companies who are forcing the people to take the phones apparently.. the same ones who forced people to take mortgages they couldn’t afford.

    When you don’t care about the profit, you don’t care about the fraud. That’s how government “works”. Same thing as Medicare but just on a smaller (couple billion) scale.

  26. Scooter

    The phone give away did not start with this President. I believe it was Bush. Regardless, they were given for the purpose of checking in with unemployment offices and for moms to check on their children and to be able to call for medical care and appointments. Things that folks with some money take for granted, but poor and elderly struggle with. I support the idea and other programs that help the least of us. For those who disagree, I suggest you walk in their shoes for awhile and get back with us on your feelings then. If there is mass abuse, call for the carriers to do something that they are able to do to clean up their over reach.

    1. Doug Ross

      As long as the least of us behave in ways where stealing is considered acceptable, they will remain the least of us.

    2. Steven Davis II

      “and for moms to check on their children”

      How was that supposed to be accomplished when it’s supposed to be one phone per household? I don’t know about cell phones, but I believe this program started to make sure every household had access to a land line and I believe the program started back in the 1930’s.

  27. Scooter

    Regarding the meeting Sunday, I would be most happy to see a common sense and rational party to draw votes and focus away from the tea party in this state. They have sucked the life blood from intelligence and compassion and I am extremely upset with the agenda they seem to have. I would be more happy to see a number of Progressive Democrats elected to state wide as well as national offices from SC.

  28. Steven Davis II

    ” I would be more happy to see a number of Progressive Democrats elected to state wide as well as national offices from SC.”

    “Progressive Democrats”… is that just another term for a liberal with an unlimited budget and a handful of blank checks? Do we really need a Congress full of Jim Clyburns?

    1. Doug Ross

      All you have to do is win elections. Check that – all you have to do is win elections and replace Bobby Harrell and Hugh Leatherman. Check that again – all you have to do is win elections, replace Bobby Harrell and Hugh Leatherman.

      Good luck with that. If the de facto leader of the Democratic Party, Vincent Sheheen, doesn’t want to take on the system (which he is deeply embedded in), who will?

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