By Mia Butler-Garrick || I wish I could say, “I stand CORRECTED.” Like many of you, I would love to be wrong about South Carolina’s uncanny ability to find its way to the bottom of the “good to great” list, while topping the charts when it comes to being “last and lovin’ it!” I mean … how much more material can we give the Jay Lenos and David Lettermans of the world?
When I think of the word “corrupt,” other adjectives like “dishonest” and “lacking integrity” come to mind. And sometimes, it’s not just the blatant or overt actions that sting the most. Too often, it’s the covert, secretive motives or actions, pleasantly “packaged” in a disarming disguise, like “for the people” or “in the best interest of the people” that really cause us to regress the most.
In fact, some of our lawmakers give new meaning to the old adage, “I can do bad all by myself.” And yet, they insist upon “helping” us, even when we don’t ask for, need or even want it. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at your new House District 79. See how the lines were masterfully and deliberately drawn, in an effort to re-segregate the district by party and race.
But don’t stop there … take a look at the state’s new voter ID law, which is another effort by the majority party to “help” us solve a problem that doesn’t even exist … at least not in South Carolina. Coincidentally, that so-called “fix” would also disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, particularly seniors and African Americans. Are you appreciating the “help” yet?
Now, I could go on because there are plenty of other examples, but one thing about corruption is … it goes hand-in-hand with the good ole boys’ and gals’ quest for continuous power and control, which is fueled by greed and manipulation. And as long as our state’s leaders continue to top the “corruptibility” charts, South Carolinians will continue to lose.
There will never be any real winners in that deal … so you may wanna remember that the next time you step into a voting booth to cast your vote for a Republican (just because he or she is a Republican), for a Democrat (just because he or she is a Democrat), or even for a woman … just because she happens to be running for Governor or any other office.
In case you need more proof of bad motives, think about this … why is it that your elected officials are quite comfy and cozy operating under a “do as I say” system of governance? Well … because you keep electing us and endorsing our “what’s good for the goose really isn’t good for the gander” mentality.
Take the bill that the House just passed, for instance. It allows S.C. employers to notify the unemployment office when a prospective employee fails a drug test, in an effort to cut off unemployment benefits until the employee satisfies the requirements of a drug treatment plan.
Now I don’t do drugs and don’t condone or support those who do, but in addition to the obvious legal and privacy issues at play, here’s another problem I have with the bill. Can you say BIGGER government? For so many self-proclaimed proponents of smaller government, we sure do “grow” it every chance we get. These extra measures cost the state time and money. So does the hypocrisy.
I fully support a drug-free workplace, but like charity, “leadership begins at home.” So why then, would we purposely exclude or exempt legislators or any other recipients of your state tax dollars, from being drug tested? The reason we’ve once again positioned ourselves “above the law” is…well…because you keep electing us! So we just get to make the rules. Y’all have to follow them.
Now I know you’re probably expecting me to spend some time on the obvious … our recently disgraced Republican Lieutenant Governor. And while his actions helped confirm South Carolina’s place as one of the nation’s most politically corrupt states and his campaign expenditures have made headlines, at least his political games and indiscretions were primarily perpetrated with his money, not ours.
Wish I could say that about some of my colleagues … oh, and our dear Governor who never misses an opportunity to take taxpayer-funded fundraising excursions without disclosing them. And now, after posing and staging staff photos for Vogue, along with promoting her book on the public’s dime, what else can we possibly expect from her so-called leadership?
Sadly, in the two sessions that I’ve served in the S.C. House, I’ve seen the power of corruption at work … the kind that goes hand-in-hand with back room deals, racism, sexism, class-ism, narcissism and just about every other “ism” imaginable. It’s the “upgraded” version of the good ole’ boys system. We’ve just added a few good ole’ gals to the mix.
For most of us, the impact is the same. Both are equally toxic, equally oppressive and unequivocally corrupt. And while power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. But there are still a few good men and women, Democrats and Republicans, who do the right thing, just because it is the right thing to do. These are the leaders with whom I am proud to serve. Funny thing is, we hardly ever hear about those of us who are doing the right things. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to figure out that integrity and character don’t sell newspapers, ads or unfortunately, even books.
So if Can’t is Not an Option … neither is corruption.
I’ll continue to fight “the system” and here’s what you can do. Take your fight to the ballot box and be the help that South Carolina needs to move the state in a better direction because until this insanity is corrected, we’ll continue to be corrupted.
Mia Butler Garrick represents District 79 in the S.C. House of Representatives. Follow her on Twitter @MiaBGarrickSC