South Carolina “Republicans” are rallying against federal Covid-19 vaccine mandates, but lingering divisions within the party are splintering resistance to this ongoing federal overreach – dividing the party and potentially undercutting its response to the diktats being handed down from Washington, D.C.
These lingering divisions are well known to our regular readers, as I expended significant bandwidth earlier this year addressing the ongoing GOP schism in South Carolina – a pivotal early voting state which plays a starring role in picking presidents (both Republican and Democratic presidents, incidentally).
As I noted last month, a “furious fight is underway within the conservative wing” of the S.C. Republican Party (SCGOP) – with “warring ideologues eager to claim the true mantle of ‘conservatism.’” These ideologues are also battling to control the “Make America Great Again” mantra popularized by former U.S. president Donald Trump – who has been surprisingly pro-establishment in his “Republican” interventions in the Palmetto State.
Earlier this year, Trump issued a trio of endorsements in support of status quo party chairman Drew McKissick – who has enraged conservatives by endorsing establishment politicians in primary elections, trying to rig county party races and labeling anyone to the right of him on the ideological spectrum as a “leper.”
Trump has also backed fiscally liberal governor Henry McMaster to the hilt – including saving McMaster’s bacon back in 2018 when the incumbent was challenged by Upstate businessman John Warren in a GOP primary election.
Heading into the upcoming election cycle, Trump is bucking that pro-incumbent trend in the state’s first congressional district – openly courting a challenger to first-term congresswoman Nancy Mace of Daniel Island, S.C.
I expect intra-party feuding during the upcoming partisan primary races to further stoke GOP divisions ahead of the “First in the South” presidential primary battles in early 2024 – especially if Trump seeks his party’s nomination for a third consecutive election cycle.
GOP divisions will be on display this week in Columbia, S.C. as state lawmakers convene for a special session to address the issue of redistricting – a.k.a. the once-a-decade redrawing of the state’s political boundaries based on the latest population data from the U.S. Census.
As lawmakers reconvene in the state capital, a pair of dueling rallies have been scheduled to greet them …
The first event is a so-called “Freedom Rally” scheduled for Wednesday (December 1, 2021) at 1:00 p.m. EST. That event intends to promote a so-called “Vaccination Rights Act” that has been pilloried by some conservatives as insufficient in terms of protecting Palmetto State citizens from the recent rash of federal mandates.
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The proposed bill “does not ban vaccination mandates, but rather allows the individual being required to produce a vaccination status the right to refuse sharing such information,” according to a group opposing the measure.
The second event – scheduled for Saturday (December 4, 2021) at 1:00 p.m. EST – has been dubbed the “Gates of Hell Rally.” Organizers are referring to it as a “call to action for (an) emergency session and legislation against unconstitutional mandates.”
Legislation banning vaccine mandates has already made its way through one chamber of the S.C. General Assembly. A bill introduced last December by state senator Tom Corbin – S. 177 – holds that “no person in this state may be compelled to undergo vaccination.”
“If a person chooses not to undergo vaccination, then the person’s employer may not subject the person to an adverse employment action, including, but not limited to, a termination, suspension, involuntary reassignment, or demotion,” the text of the bill stated.
Unlike the first proposal, that language seems pretty cut and dried to me …
Corbin’s bill cleared the S.C. Senate on April 8, 2021 and was introduced in the S.C. House of Representatives five days later. It has been languishing in a House committee ever since, however.
Count on this news outlet to keep tabs on both of these rallies … as well as the ongoing battle for the heart and soul of both mainstream political parties in the Palmetto State.
(Yup, Democrats are badly divided, too).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates’ lid pictured above).
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