by ANDRE CHANG
A free government based upon the consent of the governed is not for the faint of heart. Yet, that is the great aspiration of the Founding Fathers in 1776 and the great inheritance of the people of South Carolina in 2024. However, we cannot take this inheritance for granted. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, “if a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization it expects what never was and never will be.”
It is these resounding words that offer insight into the basis upon which our organization, the Young Americans for Constitutionalism, rests. For the past few years, we have been operating as a political philosophy study group made up of undergraduates at the University of South Carolina dedicated to the rediscovery of the principles of the American Revolution. However, as the State House elections grow nearer, we have been compelled to undertake the initiative to join the political fray. Our ambition is simple. We aim to mobilize the best and brightest of South Carolina’s university students and restore the principles of natural right constitutionalism in our state government.
The fact of the matter is there exists a serious problem within the SCGOP. Nihilism, both consciously and unconsciously, has been adopted as the reigning political orthodoxy of South Carolina. This has led to ignorance of the principles of justice. Crony capitalism driven by a government of, by, and for lawyers is inexcusable. State-sponsored vice such as the government’s approval of (and profiteering from) online horse gambling is inexcusable. Career politicians’ treatment of political principles as toppings on a pizza – things that can be added or removed on a whim – is inexcusable.
The nihilism of the political establishment has left them full of unqualified hubris. Even now, we are shocked and appalled by the loyalty pledge imposed on SCGOP members – and the subsequent expulsion of the Freedom Caucus from the GOP. This is disgraceful behavior and as elections grow nearer, we must remind them that the sovereignty of this government lies not in the pockets of lawyers and lobbyists but in the virtues of the citizenry. For too long, the political establishment has believed that the lack of accountability they have encountered means they are invulnerable. We, the Young Americans for Constitutionalism, aim to prove them wrong.
University students in South Carolina cannot maintain our self-imposed exile from the politics of our community. As such, we now have students from both the University of South Carolina and Clemson who are joining this initiative as we unite to make the case against the nihilism of our status quo. We are partnering up with State House campaigns as we aim to push for more conservative candidates in the SCGOP. We will be writing a series of op-eds. We will be engaging in grassroots politics to try to change public opinion by introducing our youthful intellectual vigor into the upcoming State House elections. We are proud to say that our first public appearance outside of the University of South Carolina will be at state representative Jay Kilmartin’s kickoff event on January 18th.
As members of the next generation, the Young Americans for Constitutionalism believe in the following: That constitutionalism must be reclaimed and that this nation still holds these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. We believe that constitutionalism must be revitalized, and that to rise to equality, we must rely upon the consent of the governed and earn the right to call ourselves the Party of Lincoln. We believe that constitutionalism must be restored and that there is a moral necessity to proudly proclaim that justice is the end of government as James Madison did in Federalist 51.
We thus call upon you, the people of South Carolina, to rise to the occasion and secure the blessings of liberty not only for yourselves but also for your posterity in this election year. Let us have faith that right makes might and in doing so, restore the proposition that we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Andre Chang is a Carolina scholar attending the University of South Carolina honors college. He is president of Young Americans for Constitutionalism and an undergraduate researcher in the University of South Carolina college of arts and sciences.
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