(Editor’s note: This is a copy of a letter from limited government advocate Howard Rich to S.C. Senator Kevin Bryant. It was posted this week to Bryant’s legislative blog).
First of all congratulations on the “A+” ranking you received this month from the S.C. Club for Growth. I understand you’ve received the highest score in the SC Legislature eight years running – which is quite a feat. Given how many of our elected officials get away with paying lip service to freedom and free markets, it’s gratifying to see when a few of them actually walk the walk – as you have consistently done.
I wanted to write because I’m sure you’ve seen the lates “hit piece” against me in the Columbia newspaper – which is (once again) ramping up its vendetta against parental choice and those of us who support it. This liberal rag – which gives The New York Times a run for its left-leaning money – apparently believes that demonizing me (and the legal contributions I have made to candidates in South Carolina) passes for a legitimate argument against school choice.
Meanwhile the paper does everything within its power to prop up the grovernment-run school system in the Palmetto State – which as we know is falling further behind the rest of the nation (exacting larger and larger sums of money from the South Carolina taxpayers.)
Thankfully the ongoing proliferation of new (and social) media in South Carolina means we no longer have to coddle this status quo mouthpiece – and can take our case directly to the people. This is exactly what you are doing in your “Blog from the Back Bench,” and I commend you on those efforts.
Ideologically we both know how this debate will progress. Absent the infusion of market-based reforms South Carolina’s government-run monopoly will continue to fail generations of school children – while sticking taxpayers with an ever-escalating bill.
But what is the political future of this debate? On that front I want to make something perfectly clear: Every time I read one of these hit pieces, my commitment to the fundamental reforms we are advancing is redoubled. What we are witnessing in South Carolina right now are the last gasps of a dying status quo – entrenched politicians (and their legacy media supporters) whose only remaining excuse for the poor performance of their government -run system is that parental choice has become a “distraction.” Clearly their House of Cards is close to toppling.
2016 will not be a repeat of 2012 – in which incumbent-created protections denied challengers a chance to compete in an honest primary. Mark my words: Those currently running victory laps around the South Carolina State House after giving up more than a third of the vote to “petition candidates” will be held accountable for their votes in a true GOP primary three years from now. And from what I am told, there will be an even broader coalition of pro-taxpayer, pro-free market interests aligned against them.
It comes down to this: The Republican-controlled Senate will either pass school choice this year or it won’t. If it does, South Carolina’s children, parents and taxpayers will be better for it. If it does not, then school choice advocates will focus every bit of energy they have on the 2016 primaries.
On this we have learned over the years is that choice – in addition to being effective everywhere it has been implemented – is a rising tide both politically and legislatively. When we started this fight we were nowhere in the S.C. General Assembly – now the S.C House has passed choice legislation and we were one rigged primary election away from getting it through the Senate.
One way or the other choice is coming. It is only a matter of resources, planning and patience – and I can ssure you we are blessed with an abundance of all three.
Thank you for your leadership on this issue. I look forward to seeing you again soon.