Guest Op-ed: Olson - "Policy Council’s all-or-nothing approach gets you nothing"

I got involved in politics at the grassroots level because I was upset at the direction both parties were taking our country and our state, and I felt the need to speak out. I didn’t get involved to make friends, and I will probably lose the rest I have left in the grassroots, but I need to say something.

I agree with most of the S.C. Policy Council’s policies, but the group’s all-or-nothing approach does a disservice to the very reforms it is proposing. A prime example is the campaign to eliminate the Budget and Control Board.

The Senate passed a bill this year to eliminate the board, which steals power from the governor, and give most of its duties to a new Department of Administration, controlled by the governor. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely a step in the right direction, and it was something we could improve on in future years. It was supported by Gov. Nikki Haley, the S.C. Club for Growth, Sen. Tom Davis (considered by many to be the tea party senator) and many other conservative organizations.

But then the talking points from the Policy Council started making their way through the grassroots organizations. The council said the bill created too many new agencies, that it was akin to changing the deck chairs as the Titanic was sinking. At its insistence, the House got rid of some of those new agencies, and gave more power to the governor, and the Policy Council told us to call our legislators and demand no compromise on the House version.

I would love to have gotten the House version, but that was never going to happen. And as Sen. Davis put it, the Senate version was a step in the right direction. I tried to make my case to the tea party leaders, to accept what we could get and work to improve it later. But they wouldn’t listen.

When you demand all or nothing, all too often you get what you ask for: Nothing.

Now the governor is taking on ethics reform, and this time the critics couldn’t even wait to find out what she and Attorney General Alan Wilson were proposing before they hauled out their talking points and attacks.

The Policy Council has its eight-point plan that it says is so much better than the governor’s plan. I agree, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water this time. If we can’t get everything we want, are we going to make sure we get nothing at all — again?

Isn’t something better than nothing? I can just see a repeat of the Department of Administration fiasco. And the very people the Policy Council says it represents — the voters — will lose again.

It is no secret to anyone in the grassroots that I am a supporter of Gov. Haley’s. I disagree with her on some things, and when that happens I contact her office with my concerns. I wish others would do the same, instead of playing gotcha in a public venue.

From the beginning, there has been a move even on the right to bring her down. I honestly feel that some people were determined to kill the Department of Administration bill just because it was something Gov. Haley campaigned on, and they wanted to make her look bad.

Enough is enough. Instead of demanding all or nothing, try working for something. The Policy Council used to be part of the solution; it is now becoming part of the problem.

Allen Olson is the founder and former chairman of Columbia TEA Party and remains active in statewide conservative political circles. He can be reached via email at Guest op-eds can be published in the Blogland (and are published verbatim) with attribution by emailing to

1 Response to "Guest Op-ed: Olson - "Policy Council’s all-or-nothing approach gets you nothing""

  1. Mary White 4/9/12 13:47
    While the lemmings follow Ashley Landess, Talbert Black and Harry Kibler off the cliff, Allen Olson speaks for many of us. We're not RINOs, we're just realistic conservatives who understand that we can't change things overnight. We are even willing to take small victories and we could have had one if it hadn't been for the Battle of Ashley. Heck even Tom Davis was happy with the deal on the BCB. The SCPC used to have some credibility, but now it's just a vehicle for personal agendas. Teaming up with Mr Third Party was your first mistake, Ashley, and it looks like it won't be your last.

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