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Guest Column – Coronavirus: A Case Study In Political Malpractice

Mia McLeod: “Together we could save lives …”

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by MIA McLEOD || Yesterday, in the midst of the most aggressive statewide spike of confirmed COVID-19 cases to date, Republican Senate and House leaders announced that they’re bringing 46 Senators and 124 Representatives, plus essential staffers, back to the State House next Wednesday, April 8.  

That’s right. While the risk of community spread is highest and South Carolinians are begging the Governor to issue a statewide “shelter in place” order, House and Senate “leaders” are preaching what they refuse to practice and acting like the laws and policy decisions they make for others don’t apply to them. 

And we wonder why people hate politicians. 

Meanwhile, this combo of approximately 170+ legislators and staffers who’ll converge upon the State House next Wednesday, are a mixed community of those with advanced age or preexisting conditions or both. To hell with social distancing and the advice of medical experts. And this session is no emergency. 

Leadership’s position is basically this: “We’ve weighed the risks for you and decided that your lives aren’t worth special or additional consideration. Neither are the lives of your loved ones who may be at risk simply by your being here.”

And with COVID-19 peak dates looming, even the Governor has limited public gatherings to 3 people or less and closed all schools, public beach access and nonessential businesses. So what can Senate and House “leaders” possibly be thinking?

Is this what we call, “leadership?” 

Reckless. Irresponsible. Tone-deaf. Hypocritical. Deadly.

May sound a bit harsh to some, but what if your organization’s leaders never informed you—even after they knew it, that at least one person working in or around your place of business tested positive for the virus?

And what if those same leaders not only sat on that knowledge, but continued to minimize the seriousness of the situation by encouraging you to “go about your normal routines and activities,” like it was no big deal?

Even after calling legislators and staffers back just 2 weeks ago, we weren’t advised that any additional safety precautions were taken prior to our return—not even to sanitize the heavily populated areas that all of us use.

Political malpractice? Undoubtedly. Definitely not leadership.   

And since our “leaders” at federal and state levels, knew about this virus long before we did, why have they still not even begun to procure virtual/remote video-conferencing technology with secure voting capabilities and public (live-streamed) access?

Surely, if global corporations like Apple, Microsoft, GM and Chrysler can provide video conferencing capabilities for millions of their employees around the world–similar, secure measures can be made available to the SC General Assembly.

Under normal circumstances, onsite voting wouldn’t be an issue. But these are extraordinary circumstances that warrant extraordinary adjustments…a global pandemic of epic proportions—the likes of which our country and world have never seen.

And unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. 

(Click to view)

(Via: Columbia SC Photographer Travis Bell)

So while I appreciate the opportunity to serve in the SC Senate and be a strong voice and fierce advocate for my constituents – serving is a huge sacrifice, but not a life or death decision for me. Not even close.  

The decision to bring us back reminds me that Senate and House “leaders” may not value my life, but my sons do. My family does. I do. And if I’m no longer here, the State of SC may express a few condolences … maybe even send a plaque to commemorate my brief years of service … and then quickly go on about its business … without missing a beat.

That kind of callousness is just one of many reasons people don’t trust their government.

And what about our staff members who text or call me in confidence because they too, have preexisting conditions and are terrified about being forced to return to the State House when doing so could cost them everything.

Like me, they probably never thought that simply doing their jobs could cost them their lives. Proof that even the unthinkable is possible when leaders repeatedly fail to lead–especially during the most critical time in our state’s history.

But alas, there’s still hope because God…in His Infinite Wisdom, saw fit to bless some of us with good old-fashioned common sense. I’m gonna use mine to practice what I preach, lead by example and continue to stay home to help stop the spread. If our leaders would simply put people over politics, they would too. 

Together, we could save lives. Now, that’s real leadership …   

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: Mia For SC)

Mia McLeod is a communications strategist from northeast Columbia, S.C. who represents S.C. Senate District 22 (.pdf).

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Banner: Columbia SC Photographer Travis Bell

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