by SHANNON PIERCE || When I first started exploring what it would look like to run for Congressman Trey Gowdy’s seat, I was warned numerous times that all my dirty laundry would get aired. That didn’t deter me; I didn’t have dirty laundry to find, much less air. What I didn’t realize was the ammunition used against me would be far less innocuous – my own voting record.
I’ll get into that, but first I want to address what I’m calling the elephant in the room – the national trend of the disappearing voter. In South Carolina, with a population of more than 5 million – 77 percent of who are aged 18 or older – around 66 percent are registered to vote, and of those, only 29 percent voted in the 2016 primaries.
So, less than 30 percent of the voting population of our state will help choose the two party candidates for November’s election, and if we are really lucky, we’ll see double that number show up at the polls in November.
When voters are asked why they didn’t go vote, the answer is the same here as it is across the nation. People refer to a lack of interest in the candidates, being “too busy,” they are apathetic about the result or they just don’t trust those in government anymore.
The problem with our government is that a lot of our population doesn’t think it matters if they vote or not. They are too busy to care much about it, and for whatever reason, they think their voice will not be heard.
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And you know what? I was one of those people, too. I was a mom of two boys trying to start a business while continuing to work full-time as a nurse, while my husband ran his own small business as well. I tried to make it to the polls for every general election. But, the primaries weren’t on my radar.
As my kids grew up and my company, New Oceans Health Solutions, became more successful, my schedule continued to be out-of- control. I began to consult across the nation on health care issues as they related to the general public and was invited to go on economic development trips. In 2016, I was invited to travel to Israel on an economic development trip. Instead of being in town to vote on Election Day, I was many hours away working on job recruitment.
Looking back, I know I’ve made mistakes with my personal voting record, but the truth is I’m just like the majority of the population. I, too, was apathetic at times about government and the politicians that seem to never listen to us, or truly be concerned about the issues that matter to us in South Carolina.
I don’t say this to make excuses for myself. If you consider me a hypocrite to ask for your vote when my own personal history has shown it wasn’t always a priority to me, then that’s something I can respect.
The fact is that the longer we play campaign games focused on details like this, the longer we ignore the real issues. The real issues that voters care about are a lack of affordable healthcare for all people, the fact that we rank forty-third in the nation for per capita personal income, the fact that we need reliable, sustainable infrastructure to support our businesses and manufacturers, the fact that our veterans here in the Upstate have to travel hours for access to VA services and healthcare and the fact that Congress has an approval level of around 10 percent, for the simple fact that people like me think they just don’t listen to us anymore.
We need real solutions to these problems, and we need to re-engage our own, disillusioned, disenfranchised population to do it. For me personally, I decided that I couldn’t be disenfranchised any more and I’m not sitting on the sidelines one more day. I fully believe that if, as a nation, we continue to do the same things we’ve always done, and re-elect the same type of person we’ve always had, we’ll continue with the same sorry results.
Trey Gowdy was a great representative and a great Statesman and he did us proud here in South Carolina. Now it’s time to elect someone new. We need someone who can engage people—even (and especially) the disenfranchised ones. We need someone who has a record of results. Someone who can connect with others in the same path, and truly make a difference in D.C.
I feel that I’m this person to help change the culture in Washington. Even with my less than perfect voting record.
Shannon Pierce is a conservative, a nurse, an inventor, and started her own technology company – New Oceans Health Solutions – creating a mobile solution that put healthcare in the hands of the patient. She has proven her outcome and results-focused solutions as a nationally-known healthcare consultant and as a successful entrepreneur.
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