Every week, I “do” the First Amendment. I take advantage of one of the four basic freedoms which have been guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States: Freedom of the Press. I also regularly take advantage of the other three: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom to Peaceably Assemble.
You should, too.
These freedoms make our system of government work. Our Democratic Republic is designed to allow majority rule while protecting the rights of the minority. The system works best if we have an informed public… which is possible because of our individual freedoms to express our personal opinions, and even to try to sway the opinions of others. Freely sharing opinions on the important issues of the day helps insure that the information received by the public is balanced. Like your vote, your opinion can make a difference.
This was all brought to mind last week by the Republican Presidential Debate hosted in Columbia. The folks from the Fox Network, which sponsored the debate, asked me to meet them for an on-camera interview -- in my role as a political strategist -- to talk about the significance of our state’s primary.
Back in 1986, when I helped re-write the rules of the SC Republican Party as Chairman of its Rules Committee, I succeeded in making our Presidential Primary a permanent fixture, based on the success of our first primary in 1980. Consequently, our state’s Primary is rather unique: It was not established by state law, but rather by party rules. As such, our Republican Party can hold the primary at any time we choose… and since its 1980 inception, we have chosen to hold it before any other Southern state’s primary.
A few years ago, SC’s Democratic Party followed suit, and created their own Presidential Primary, and also positioned it as the first in the south.
Because our primaries are held before virtually all other states, they tend to carry greater weight toward choosing the next president.
In fact, the winner of the SC Republican Presidential Primary has gone on to win the nomination every time!!!
I have often said it’s not a coincidence that Reagan, Bush, Bush again, Dole and Bush (W) have each gained the nomination after winning in South Carolina. They each gained the nomination BECAUSE they won in South Carolina.
Our state, it turns out, has been THE turning point in each election. The momentum a candidate gains from winning the Palmetto State seems to make him unstoppable thereafter.
This means each of us here in the Palmetto State has an obligation of sorts to help make sure we choose correctly. Our actions will likely determine the next leader of the free world!
Between now and our 2008 Primary (which will probably be held in January), I encourage you study the candidates of your party carefully, make your decision, and then get involved to make your opinion count. One good way to make your opinion known is to write a letter to the editor of this paper.
As for myself, I haven’t yet made my decision, but when I do, I’ll share my opinion and try to persuade others to see my point of view.
I’ll be using my First Amendment rights. You should, too.
You’re always welcome to let me know you agree, disagree, can’t make sense of, or simply don’t care about anything I’ve written here… or about any other topic that happens to be on your mind. You can email me directly at: RodShealy@aol.com.
And, if reading it once just wasn’t enough for you, read it again online – along with previous columns -- at my new blog: www.doingthefirst.blogspot.com