South Carolina: Leading the Conservative movement

South Carolina has always been a political force. It's becoming the heart of American Conservatism.

CLEMSON, S.C., August 19, 2011—The Great State of South Carolina often leads the United States of America in politics.

This unique role has roots deep in American History. Four months before the Declaration of Independence was signed, South Carolina revolted against Britain, adopting its current state constitution. Eighty-four years later, South Carolina revolted against the Union: Following the doctrine of the great statesman and former Vice President John C. Calhoun, South Carolina withdrew from the US Constitution and once again decided to govern itself.  

Since the War Between the States, South Carolina has been content to influence American political thought. In recent years, the eyes and ears of the Conservative Movement and the Republican Party have become increasingly focused on the politics of the Palmetto State, following with rapt attention the actions of the South Carolina GOP. During the election season of 2010, more national media attention was given to current SC Governor Nikki Haley than to almost any other GOP gubernatorial candidate nationwide.

Other nationally recognized and frequently followed SC favorites include Senators Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, as well as Congressmen Joe Wilson, Jeff Duncan, Tim Scott, Mick Mulvaney, Trey Gowdy, and Jim Clyburn. On average, these representatives from South Carolina get more media attention than those of almost any other state.  

Sometimes the attention is due to the outrageous comments of one prominent South Carolinian Democrat, Congressman Clyburn.  Known by many as a “far left kook,” he has claimed that Congress’ reading of the Constitution was “uncalled for,” and most recently argued that Obama should unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, just as President Lincoln freed the slaves.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has established anything but a fond reputation with South Carolinian conservatives. Known as “Lindsey Gramnesty,” he solidified his reputation as a RINO: Republican In Name Only. His liberal record in the Senate and his votes for Obama-nominated Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor and Kagan have separated him from the conservative base in South Carolina, even costing him relationships with political advisers. With the rise of the Tea Party in 2010 and with every statewide office going to true conservatives, Graham has moved to the right in an apparent attempt to appeal to voters. The efficacy of this expedient change of heart is yet to be seen.

Most of the press that South Carolina receives goes to conservative legislators who lead the fight against the liberal agenda of the Left.  

Freshman Congressman Tim Scott was elected in 2010 as a Tea Party hardcore conservative. As the first African-American Republican Representative from the old South since Reconstruction, he received a huge amount of media coverage. Scott, however, was not concerned about race.  He rightly stated that his campaign was never about race, adding that “the future is more important than the past.” He declined to join the Congressional Black Caucus because he wasn’t elected as a black man; he was elected as a conservative Christian.

Rep. Tim Scott, from South Carolina. (Image: Associated Press)

Rep. Tim Scott, from South Carolina. (Image: Associated Press)


Congressman Joe Wilson was cast into the national spotlight following his vocal rejection of President Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2009. After shouting, “You Lie!” when Obama said that his package would not cover illegal aliens, he was both criticized and lionized. In the end, Wilson’s assertion proved correct: Recent HHS grants from ObamaCare funds will go to health care centers that will not check the immigration or citizenship status of migrant workers.

Statesmen from South Carolina have been unafraid to stand against legislation from either side of the aisle. Their loyalties lie not with Boehner, but with God and the mission appointed them by the voters of South Carolina. In the debt-ceiling debate, the South Carolina GOP stood firm. It became a GOP vs. SCGOP debate. Even in the midst of unrelenting pressure from House leadership, every South Carolinian Member and several Members from the very conservative Republican Study Committee stood against the legislation.  

Before voting, Scott, Mulvaney and Duncan met in the Congressional Member’s Chapel and prayed for wisdom and guidance on the upcoming vote. The humility that these men demonstrate through their actions is truly inspiring to others. The practice of their faith, not just words, makes them stronger leaders.

Conservative Tea Party favorite and prominent Republican Senator Jim DeMint is constantly in the news for boldly defending conservative principles that South Carolinians embrace. Most recently, he claimed that the Obama Administration is the most anti-American administration of his lifetime. Referred to as “Senator Tea Party,” DeMint is leading the Tea Party, actively campaigning for a Balanced Budget Amendment, and opposing the recent debt-ceiling deal, because the threat is “not a debt ceiling, but the debt.”

DeMint’s brainchild, the Senate Conservatives Fund, is a political action committee “dedicated to electing strong conservatives to the United States Senate.” It has had great success after having endorsed Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey and Ron Johnson in the 2010 elections. Conservatives around the nation look to DeMint’s endorsement before deciding for whom to cast their ballots.

DeMint has helped create “The Palmetto Freedom Forum.” A new type of presidential debate, it will take place on September 5th in South Carolina. Instead of the debate-style forum which we saw last week in Iowa, the forum has been constructed as more of an interview. It will avoid viewers’ growing frustration that candidates are able to dodge specifics to important policy questions due to time restrictions. 

With such strong leaders, it is no surprise that South Carolina had the first GOP Presidential Debate and has the fourth deciding GOP Primary. Just as South Carolina leads the nation in politics, it will play a vital role in the 2012 election.


John Paul Cassil studies Management/Entrepreneurship and Political Science at Clemson University. A former U.S. House of Representatives Page, Cassil has since worked on conservative campaigns and in Congress for Congresswoman Foxx.

Cassil is the Managing Editor of the Tiger Town Observer, Clemson’s Conservative Journal of News and Opinion. He regularly speaks about activism at national conservative conferences.

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John Paul Cassil

John Paul Cassil studied Business Management (Entrepreneurship) and Political Science, recently graduating from Clemson University with the highest GPA of all business majors in his class. Cassil currently performs business analysis for the Secretary's Office of the U.S. Department of State, with an active Top Secret Security Clearance. 

Cassil has extensively traveled throughout Europe, the US, and the Middle East. He's lived across the American South, in Belgium, Kuwait, and Israel. He has interests in politics and foreign policy, having participated in numerous Model United Nations conferences around the world, including Harvard World MUN in Taipei, Taiwan and Princeton's 2008 Youth Initiative for Progress in Iraq Conference, in Amman, Jordan. 

In 2007, Cassil was appointed as a U.S. House of Representatives Republican Cloakroom Page by Speaker of the House John Boehner. Cassil has since worked for Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, as well as South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson's successful campaign. 

In College, Cassil served as the Managing Editor and Media Director of Clemson's Tiger Town Observer, as well as the Founder and Chairman of Clemson's Young Americans for Freedom. He has spoken about his collegiate activism at national conferences of organizations such as the Young America's Foundation and Eagle Forum. He has written articles for both The Washington Times Communities and Roll Call.

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This column does not express the opinions of the U.S. Government or any of its agencies.


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