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The meeting last Saturday (August 9th), with the Edgefield County Democratic Party hosting our Republican Senator Shane Massey, really worked out well. The meeting was open to all residents regardless of political party, and both Mr. Massey and the party chairman, Johnston’s Mayor Terrence Culbreath, agreed about many things, including the success of the meeting. We can work together! Mr. Culbreath asked that Councilman Rodney Ashcraft, who chairs the Edgefield County Republican Party, reciprocate by inviting one of the county’s Democratic office holders to speak at an upcoming Republican meeting, with members of both parties as well as independent voters attending.
Here is an idea that I offered at the meeting, and I offer it to our Advertiser readers as well. There are several issues that, on the face of them, divide us along party lines; let’s take one of them as an example: the “Stand Your Ground” law that became famous in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. We in South Carolina have enacted virtually the same legislation, with a vote pretty much along party lines: Republicans in favor, Democrats against, so it passed our Republican legislature and was signed into law by our Republican governor. How can this partisan issue unite us?
Here’s how. The good news is that our 50-state federal system is truly a “laboratory of democracy” in which some states pass laws like “Stand Your Ground” and others don’t. South Carolina, like other states who passed the law, argued that this law will save lives: armed householders who feel threatened by an intruder, for example, can stand their ground and defend themselves with a firearm with immunity from prosecution – so long as they can reasonably show that they felt threatened by the intruder. Conclusion of the incident: the intruder is probably shot, perhaps fatally; but the householder and members of his or her family are safe from harm. Those who argued against the law thought that the result would not save lives: more people, including innocent people who were only perceived to be a threat but reasonably were not a threat, would be needlessly injured or killed.
In laboratories, scientists test the theory in question by analyzing experimental results. So here’s the thing. Regardless of party, let’s agree that if one side “won” and the other “lost” in legislation like this one, we’ll look at what each side predicted would be the legislation’s outcome (more fatalities? fewer?) and test it by looking at the results. Where did South Carolina stand relative to other states who did not enact “Stand Your Ground” in that statistic, before it was enacted? Where did South Carolina stand, say, five years later? Which prediction came true, or was there no change at all? And let’s both sides agree in advance that when “the results are in” after five years, we’ll take action (repeal, change, or look again in another five years) consistent with what we find.
We can do that with several controversial issues. Will our highways be better or worse than they are now, following the current legislature’s recommendations? The majority party will enact some plan, the minority party will doubtless object, so let’s agree up front to look to see how it worked out and then either continue the plan or change it.
Okay, so it’s idealistic. But if our Edgefield County delegation can buy into the idea at least among themselves, we can perhaps set an example for the rest of the state. Here in Edgefield County, we can lead the state and prove that Republicans and Democrats can work together.