This sign contains two messages: the first warns of a a turn to the left, and the second of an upcoming crossroads. It seems an appropriate to what is going on in the State House.
Our state finds itself confronted with a budget crisis, which is nothing new. Our state's budget has a history of going from boom to bust, yet while many of our legislators were around during the last budget crash, we saw billions of dollars of recent surpluses squandered with little effort to set aside reserves.
Last fall saw our state's House Speaker upset when a legislator proposed requiring putting votes on the record, which is commonplace in many other states. The excuse of "if we want you to know, we'll let you know, otherwise get lost" smacks of the same kind of good ol' boy leadership that was reminiscent of the old days of South Carolina's Democratic majority rule, where cover-ups, corruption, investigations, and convictions - culminating in Operation Lost Trust - were commonplace.
Now we see the House leadership proposing a rule change that would consolidate power into the hands of the House Speaker, by allowing the Speaker to appoint committee chairs, instead of allowing the committee members to select their own. We've heard excuses that this is intended to protect the power of the GOP majority in the House, but we're skeptical.
We're concerned these changes will make the legislature less accountable to the public and empower those who wish to operate in the shadows, even if that's not what those backing the rules desire. These same kinds of tricks had much to do with the upsetting of the scandal-ridden Republican majority in the U.S. House. Once the now-former Speaker Dennis Hastert and others in the Congressional GOP leadership began changing rules, cutting deals for campaign cash, and spending money like drunken sailors, under the excuse of protecting the Republican majority, it was only a matter of time before it hit the fan.
We find ourselves confronted with eerie parallels with what cost Republicans in control of Congress. This puts us at a crossroads and makes us ask ourselves where we're headed, and how long it will be before voters decide they're ready for a change.
We hope grass-roots Republicans will be asking their leadership the same questions, as well as holding them accountable for what they're doing.