Smith promises to be the governor South Carolina needs


Earlier today, I posted a speech from a young Republican — my own representative, and I couldn’t be prouder of him — who condemned our current governor for being so determined to hang onto his office that he has refused to lead. Henry just won’t take the chance.

Coincidentally, tonight Rep. James Smith — like Micah Caskey, a veteran of the War on Terror — stood before a crowd of supporters and promised to be a governor who “cares more about doing the job than keeping the job.” Which is the opposite of what Rep. Caskey accurately characterized our governor as being.

James said a lot of other things — about education, about health care, and about having an energy policy that benefits the people of South Carolina and not just its utilities and their lobbyists.

He spoke out against corruption and for transparency and accountability. Echoing my own Power Failure project, he spoke of a South Carolina that is no longer first where it should be last, and last where it should be first.

He did a good job. I was impressed. And you know what? I think he’s got a chance to win.

I tried to shoot video, but my phone ran out of storage room. I’ll try to clean it up and do better in the future.

Because this is going to be a fascinating, and fateful, election for South Carolina…

Smith with some of his comrades from the war in Afghanistan.

Smith with some of his comrades from the war in Afghanistan.

11 thoughts on “Smith promises to be the governor South Carolina needs

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Pretty much. It was a litany; he was just running off a list of things that were issues for him, the way you do when you tell people why you’re running. It wasn’t a speech ABOUT corruption….

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s something interesting: On the same day I was praising both Micah Caskey and James Smith, there was a disagreement between them.

    One thing James touted in his speech — to applause from the crowd — was his proposal to keep utilities from making political contributions.

    Avery Wilks of The State Tweeted this:

    … and followed it up with something that drew scorn from Micah:

    I would say that Micah has a good point, except for this: I will adamantly defend the First Amendment, but… I’ve never been convinced that spending is “speech.” In fact, I don’t come close to thinking that.

    Of course, for me, whether to ban contributions or not is not a big deal, because as you know I’m less interested in the role of money than most people.

    Whether a politician receives a contribution or not is not indicative of guilt or innocence in my mind. I think it’s nice to know, as a take-note-of thing, something you can set alongside other facts in pursuing conclusions — which is why I think disclosure is a good thing. But ultimately, I care about what the politician DID more than who he got money from.

    I mean, if you did something that favored a contributor, and it was a BAD thing to do — bad policy — it’s the bad policy I care about, not the contribution. And it would be just as bad if you’d never received a dime.

    See what I mean?

    1. Jeff Mobley

      This from a recent article (which is mainly about Trump, actually) by the reliably entertaining Kevin D. Williamson:

      You’d think that Americans would love the First Amendment, which gives every ordinary yokel on Twitter the right to say the president is a fool and the police chief is incompetent and the chairman of the board might profitably be replaced by a not-especially-gifted chimpanzee. But it isn’t very popular at all: Gutting the First Amendment is one of the top priorities of the Democratic party, which seeks to revoke its protection of political speech — i.e., the thing it’s really there to protect — so that they can put restrictions on political activism, which restrictions they call “campaign-finance reform.” They abominate the Supreme Court’s solid First Amendment decision in Citizens United, a case that involved not “money in politics” but the basic free-speech question of whether political activists should be allowed to show a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the days before an election. (Making a film and distributing it costs money, you see, hence “money in politics.”) They lost that one, but every Democrat in Harry Reid’s Senate — every one of them — voted to repeal the First Amendment.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah… I still don’t see money as speech… I don’t see expenditures as being activity inherently protected by the First Amendment.

        The First Amendment is a precious thing, and it doesn’t need to be watered down by extending its protection to actions it was not meant to protect, such as spending vast sums of money.

        That said, I tend not to lean toward limiting expenditures. I tend to think timely disclosure is enough. But I’m open to a good argument…

        1. Jeff Mobley

          Consider that during the oral arguments for Citizens United, the losing side could give only very weak assurances that their preferred outcome wouldn’t result in a regime under which the government could ban books:

          CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: But we don’t put our — we don’t put our First Amendment rights in the hands of FEC bureaucrats; and if you say that you are not going to apply it to a book, what about a pamphlet?
          GENERAL KAGAN: I think a — a pamphlet would be different. A pamphlet is pretty classic electioneering, so there is no attempt to say that 441 b only applies to video and not to print.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          “Yeah… I still don’t see money as speech… I don’t see expenditures as being activity inherently protected by the First Amendment.”

          If money isn’t speech, please explain why a government-imposed limit on the amount of money a newspaper could spend for investigative reporters doesn’t violate the 1A.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            That really doesn’t seem like the same thing…

            What you’re talking about speaks to a core thing about freedom of the press — if you have a chilling effect on the ability of the press to collect the news, you’re violating the freedom of the press.

            The information doesn’t exist, it isn’t available to anyone, if you reduce spending on reporters.

            I’m not saying this to argue with you, I’m just saying it doesn’t QUITE match up.

            Perhaps a better analogy would be if you limited the amount of newsprint a paper could buy.

            Because the issue isn’t whether you can say a certain thing; it’s more a matter of how much of a right you have to AMPLIFY it.

            And why am I helping you make your argument?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              The real problem, the real obstacle to dealing effectively with the destructive effect of money in politics, requires, well, editorial judgments.

              You, and I, and almost anyone but the most rabid Trump fan know that there is a world of difference between the New York Times, with its professional practices and standards of evidence, doing an in-depth expose, and…

              well… the unbelievably scurrilous CRAP that campaigns routinely crank out in a deliberate, over-the-top bid to completely mislead the electorate.

              There’s no way to write a regulation differentiating between the two, but a reasonably discerning child can tell the difference between the two phenomena.

              Yeah, I know — Trump voters can’t tell the difference.

              In fact, in defense of Trumpistas, LOTS of voters can’t tell the difference. Which is why campaigns do it.

              No matter how nakedly dishonest the ads are, they work or campaigns wouldn’t stoop to them.

              And the only way to fix it is to require that people be rational and informed before we let them vote.

              And that wouldn’t pose any problems, would it?…

  2. Harry Harris

    Let me tell you about the “speech” to which I object most. It’s the practice of subsidizing the political 501C groups who engage in candidate and issues advocacy through tax-deductibility. Foundations such as the Heritage Foundation mask as educational/charitable endeavors when they are mainly advocacy groups. The IRS was roundly attacked for targeting TEA party groups when they were basically trying to enforce the law and foolishly named their targets who were primarily, but not exclusively, right wing advocates for candidates and policy. If Brad, arch-conservative that he is, gives a couple of million from his billions to SC Hates Taxes, a 501c educational foundation, he can deduct it from his income, meaning you other federal taxpayers subsidize his “speech” at about 39 percent considering his tax bracket. It may sound far-fetched, but that is the way the Koch brothers, Dick Armey, Karl Rove, and myriads of their compadres work their magic. The Heritage Foundation even sponsors research – funny, but their research (partly paid for by you through tax deductibility) always supports their agenda. They even commission books to be written and support column-writers (with your money) to write stuff that supports their agenda also – all in the name of education. If a group without deductible status (and donor anonymity) such as Move or OFA, advocates policy or candidacy, at least they aren’t doing it with your money.


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