Another Impassioned Plea for State-Before-Caucus

South Carolina flag waving with the sun behind it

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When my Papa served in WWII, he was thrown into boot camp with volunteers from all over the nation. The guys from South Carolina stuck together. 

“When someone asked you where you’re from,” he said, “and heard you say South Carolina, three or four other voices would speak up, too. ‘Whereabouts?’ they’d ask, or ‘Where’re your people?’ and then you were family. Just because you were from South Carolina.”

Traveling in New York City with a navy blue hat bearing the palmetto tree and crescent logo of our state flag and someone across the aisle on the subway asked me what part of South Carolina was I from. Turns out our grandmothers attended the same college in Hartsville.

Our state is like that. We are not strangers. We’re family.

And maybe Ohio acts that way, too. Maybe Missouri or Michigan or Minnesota feel the same kinship with other natives. Maybe they all think they have the best climate (golf all year), the best geography (mountains and beaches), the best food (collard greens and smoked pork barbecue), or the best sports teams (Go Lady Gamecocks!). Maybe we all have geographically-fueled patriotism that makes us instant pals with those who know there’s something in these hills and the shag is a dance, not an Austin Powers punchline.

It’s in the spirit of family that we organized the South Carolina Libertarian Party’s current leadership team. Casey Crowe and Kasie Whitener chair adjacent counties, hold dual monthly meetings, and take to the radio as a dynamic duo. Jessica Ethridge and Melissa Couture are two-thirds of our Libertarian moms podcast Parenting Porcupines. Even our presidential candidate from the Upstate earned the nickname “Mama Jo.”

It’s not a strategic advantage to be so close and care so much about one another. It’s just who we are.

If family is who we are, then support is what we do. 

We show up. We donate. We give of our time, our energy, and ourselves. We promote one another as smart and capable. We encourage each other.

Spirited discourse. Sharing ideas. Working for liberty. Celebrating freedom. That’s what we do.

Our 2022 strategic plan had three primary categories: Educate others on liberty, recruit and train candidates to serve, and constrain the power of government. 

As family, we would discuss, research, share, and analyze ideas together. We would encourage participation and invite people in, encourage them to run and arm them with the procedural knowledge they need to be successful. We would speak out against corruption, speak truth to power, and disrupt the status quo.

Our failure to do the last thing – organize against The State during COVID lockdowns – opened the door for S.C. to be infiltrated by a national effort that undermines libertarianism as we have practiced it. Where we are compassionate and cooperative, they have been collectively cutthroat.

Our state was divided by that national effort and in Reno, our delegation was split. During elections, the split identifying as Mises Caucus voted Caucus over state in every single election, including two where the candidates were from South Carolina.

And like a family that experiences betrayal, we are working on how to respond. How do we recover from such a disappointing experience? Not just because the Mises Caucus won the national convention, but because our state—our state—came out broken. Severed and divided in a meaningful way. And while those of us not in the majority, nationally-relevant Caucus are wondering what to do, those delegates who are in that Caucus are strutting around as though their connection with that collective is more important than their service with us in our state.

Fundamentally, libertarianism is about cooperation. We heard that again and again at the national convention. Cooperation means working together for the good of our state. We have to show up for events in our state. We have to engage voters in our state. We have to invite new people into the party, encourage them to run for office, and support them through election in our state. 

We don’t have to be united or be equal to do the work of spreading liberty in our state. But we cannot be adversaries. There can be no more “us” and “them.” 

We are all South Carolinians. We work on behalf of our citizens and our state. And anyone who is willing to show up and do the work is welcome, so long as they understand that second to cooperation, liberty is about humility

As Jo Jorgensen said at the convention on Saturday, humility is knowing that you cannot make a better choice for another person than they can make for themselves. You cannot run their lives better than they can. While The State cannot be trusted to make our choices for us, our state libertarian party can make a difference in our own lives and those of our neighbors.

We’re in this together, South Carolina LP. Like those volunteer soldiers heading off to boot camp, let us look for what connects us—the things we share—and let those connections be more powerful than the divisions. 

Ready to get involved? Click here to find the next meeting for your local SCLP group.

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