Enough Negative Politics

I have read the articles by Mr. Thomas about the upcoming elections and they are nothing more than examples of the current do-nothing partisan thinking that prevents progress. These stories either cite misstatements of reality, distortions of reality or incredible fabrications repeating ideas supported by “conservative think tanks” such as the South Carolina Policy Council or such national organizations as ALEC sponsored by the anti-working -American Koch brothers.

One example of these misstatements or fabrications is a statement by Mr. Thomas about the number of attorneys in the State legislature. In a misstatement of the facts, or more likely a simple parroting of “facts” from the South Carolina Policy Council without further research, Mr. Thomas states that 25 percent of the members are attorneys. This is clearly based on the South Carolina Policy Council’s stated number of 43 members of the General Assembly being attorneys. However, according to the South Carolina Bar Association, the organization that keeps up with who is a licensed attorney in this state, there are 23 lawyers in the House of Representatives and 10 lawyers in the Senate. That is 33, not 43, total members out of 170 for 19 percent, not 25 percent. This is just one simple example of fabrications that are made simply to distort reality, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

In an example of the negativity Mr. Thomas has introduced into this year’s campaign and in an attempt to impugn the integrity of Senator Coleman, he takes a swipe at two local attorneys and magistrates, Carol Tolen and Paul Swearingen. In his comments, he implies that they are ethically deficient. I can say that personally and professionally, I find this attempt totally inaccurate and reprehensible. I have known both for a very long time and both are two of the most intelligent, professional and ethical attorneys I have ever known. I thought “conservatives” wanted qualified professional persons such as these serving in such positions. At least, that’s what you will hear.

While I understand that Mr. Thomas is in the throes of a political campaign and is reaching for anything he thinks may help his candidate, this simply goes too far. His statements simply do not reflect the whole truth and it is very cowardly to attack persons who cannot defend themselves in the public forum as they are prevented from doing so by their judicial ethics.

Now about the lawyer bashing that has become sport among the “pro-business conservatives.” I am sick and tired of the comparison of businessman versus lawyer by these folks. As if running a law practice is not running a business. I can assure you a law firm is a business. You do not get free electricity, nor free water, nor free office space. No matter how great an employer you are, your secretary, receptionist or paralegal do not show up each day because they like you. You must pay your employees, you must pay your bills, you must make a living and you pay tax on those earnings. Small law firms or solo practitioners ARE small business. I thought that was something “conservatives” supported, not bashed. At least, that what I constantly hear from their rhetoric.

Mr. Thomas has told us in his articles that voting for Democrats is a waste of your vote. Voting for President Obama is a waste of a vote because South Carolina will be carried by Romney and your vote does not matter. He says voting for MaryGail Douglas and Creighton Coleman is a waste of your votes because they are in the minority party in the General Assembly. Wow! What a disgusting comment, particularly from the chair of a political party – someone who purportedly supports the democratic process for which thousands of Americans have perished to defend. There is no such thing as a wasted vote. Each American has the right to vote for whomever he or she chooses, even writing in “Mickey Mouse” if they so choose.

Furthermore, passing legislation is NOT based on being a member of the majority party. Passing legislation requires leadership, listening to opposing viewpoints and something these “conservatives” fail to grasp: compromise. To get something that benefits society into law, it must be legislation that reflects the voice of all in society, not just the majority, and that requires, at least to some degree, compromise. To suggest otherwise says that every piece of legislation is perfect when it is written and introduced. If that is the case, there is no need to have it reviewed by subcommittees, committees, two houses of a legislature and a chief executive. Our system was not designed to be the most efficient system, that would be a dictatorship. However, our system was designed to try to be the most fair. Our legislative process is designed to allow all viewpoints a seat at the table in discussions. Yes, legislation is passed with garnering a majority number of votes; however, good legislation requires debate, deliberation, and the voice of the minority being involved in that process so everyone’s voice can be heard or at least exercise some influence.

A recent editorial stated that people in Fairfield do not like the harsh negative brand of politics Mr. Thomas is introducing into this year’s election cycle. His response was to say this type of campaign was what we need to make positive change in Fairfield County. This is simply ludicrous. To propose that positive results can come from negative campaigning is unfathomable and contrary to any actual results of which I am aware. Negative campaigns simply throw red meat to the extremes on both sides of the debate and discourage the folks in middle from participating. This is exactly why folks have such a negative view and declining view of politics and politicians and why our nation and our state have such a ridiculously low voter turnout rate. I point to the pathetic 11 percent statewide voter turnout for this year’s primary elections on the heels of one of the bitterest nastiest Presidential Primary campaigns I have had the misfortunate of witnessing in my 30 odd years of observing the political process. Fairfield County has a relatively high rate of voter turnout in comparison with the state; however, continue these types of campaigns and folks will become discouraged with the process and the election will be decided by the extreme fringes and will not reflect the view of the average voter.

Had enough? Tell Mr. Thomas that in Fairfield we do not want to go down the road negative of national politics. We do not want his brand of negative, factually inaccurate, mud-slinging politics in Fairfield County. That is exactly what Fairfield County does not need to promote progress and success.

William P. Frick

Winnsboro

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