One of the many questions I have recieved via emails, phone calls and posts, some published some not, over the past few days is why I am a Republican. One friend made it clear to me, "Democrats would never treat you like this. They are just nicer people." I don't know about that.
But, I do know why I am a Republican after all these years.
Over the past nearly 10 years, as a personal injury lawyer for one year and a real estate lawyer for the rest of that time period, I have had the opportunity to be in the living rooms of hundreds, indeed, nearly three thousand, South Carolinians. The first year I spent going to living rooms and hospital rooms being the first legal consultation someone got. The remainder of the time, I have been to realtor's offices, bank offices, and living rooms closing real estate refinance loans and real estate transactions.
It is the living rooms that gave me my experience. It was in the those living rooms, from a million dollar home on Hilton Head to a doublewide in Wahalla, that gave me the perspective I have. I learned that the people in those homes are far more alike than different. They have dreams. They want a better life for themselves and their children. They are black, white, hispanic, asian, and anything else you can think of.
I also learned that people tend to keep in their living rooms things that make them proud. For some, it is a portrait of a great man, like Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcom X, and of course, Jesus Christ. For others, its displaying a hard earned GED or a picture of a child serving in Iraq. There are also those who show off the prize fish caught or the prize buck shot. Then there is man whom I will never forget who lived in a home near Myrtle Beach. That man had displayed the Silver Star for Valor for action he took in Vietnam. I spent most of my time in his home listening to his story.
I will also never forget the little girl on St. Helena Island who asked me what it took to be a lawyer, only to have her own mother abrublty cut her off and call her stupid for asking such a question. That is when I realized one of the root problems we face in education in this state. No government program, liberal or conservative, can ever make up for family putting down ones dreams. There is a culture of failure that no proposal by Mark Sanford or Jim Rex can overcome until that culture of failure is hit head on.
From it all, from elderly folks refinanicing their homes to give their children money, to a couple refinancing to pay off a bill due to a heart attack, to airline stewardesses to real estate wheelers and dealers, I come to learn people and South Carolina. I know every little town of this state far better than I ever dreamed to I know the good barbecue joints, and my waistline shows it. . I dare say I have sat in more living rooms of more South Carolinians than anyone holding statewide office today.
I learned that people are all pretty much the same. And, as such, I can be a conservative and Republican. I believe, with all my heart, that if government is limited, and taxes are kept low, and government just got out the way, people would thrive, if leaders have the courage to not only do the before mentioned but encourage people to dare to dream and break the culture of failure. I say that because in all of my travels, I have never met one person who wanted to be worse off, wanted to pay more taxes, or wanted to fail.
The woman on St. Helena Island putting down her daughter's dream questions was as close I have come in my many living room visits of someone not wanting their children to be better.
I will admit that little girl and her mother haunts me when I think of education issues. But, much stronger than that haunting is my belief in the people of South Carolina. It is a belief forged in the fire of reality that is being in so many living rooms, black, white, yankee, native, and so forth.
That is why I am a Republican, and will always be. Perhaps I am a different kind of Republican, though. Because I believe the good ole boy from Ware Shoals can make it just as much as the rich guy on the island or the black woman in Orangeburg. I believe in people, like Reagan.
That makes being a Republican easy.