Surge poltical pundit takes on pot reform, S.C. Dems, and Arizona GOP

For Weekly SurgeFebruary 26, 2014 

A note before we begin: The sole purpose for starting this column was voter empowerment. It is about taking political issues, stripping away all the partisan bullshit, and getting down to brass tacks without regard for “how it will play out in the next election.”

However, the last thing I wanted was it to become just 600-words of philosophical self-indulgence. That does nobody any good, especially you, the voter. Therefore, the format of this column will be fluid, and allow for me to take on several issues in a single bound, as I do this week, taking snapshots (and potshots) of/at local, state, and national conversations. Education is the true key to voter empowerment, and it starts by being engaged in what’s happening in the world around you.

Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) Breaks “Pot” Taboo for Suffering Constituent

It might seem weird that a bill legalizing the use of a chemical derived from marijuana would come from a Republican. Then again, Davis is not your normal Republican. One of his constituents is a little girl who suffers from a condition that causes more than 100 seizures an hour. However, the only drug that doctors say will work for her, a non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD), is illegal in South Carolina. Davis filed a bill last week that would legalize the drug. Keep your eye on Davis, folks. He is the future of South Carolina politics, and a damned-fine human being at that. By the way, what’s our friend Congressman Tom Rice (R-7th) doing for Myrtle Beach during his time in Washington? Well, trying to pass a non-binding (meaning, it doesn’t legally do anything) resolution to “bring legal action” against Obama. Yeah. It’s just like it sounds.

South Carolina Democrats Focus On Spending: They Want More of It

The South Carolina House Democrats released their 2014 legislative priorities, which includes items such as raising teacher pay, establishing a state-mandated minimum wage, and expanding Medicaid. "House Democrats are serious about tackling the issues that face our citizens each and every day," says House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford. Tackling South Carolina’s ever-growing debt? Not a priority. Improving South Carolina’s poor business tax climate to attract more jobs to the state? Not a priority. How about even education reform that doesn’t include throwing more money at a failing system? Nah. It’s all well and fine to want to throw your base some red meat, but if this is the best the Democrats can come up with for this year’s legislative priorities, then they’ve already thrown in the towel. “Democrats over in the House were probably patting each other on the back for their bold, gutsy platform,” jokes noted political commentator Brad Warthen, “when it could easily have been drafted by the Republicans, trying to define Democrats into a political corner.” If Democrats want to change the story in South Carolina politics, it’s time for them to go off script.

Arizona Republicans Officially Jump the Shark

Last week, legislators in Arizona passed a bill that would give business the right to refuse gay customers under the auspices of religious freedom. The bill is a response to a number of incidents where business owners were found guilty of violating the civil rights of gay customers who were refused service. The bill now heads to Republican Governor Jan Brewer, who has until the end of the month to decide if she wants to veto it. Republicans believe such a bill is necessary because they see a refusal of service as religious expression. Democrats, and a growing number of other Americans, see it as a discrimination of a class of people. And, Republicans wonder why they aren’t winning elections? As with S.C. Democrats, it’s time to flip the switch. There is a philosophical argument to be made that business owners should be protected from the coercion of law into taking an action they do not wish to make. However, that is a philosophical argument that must also answer to the rule of law, in particular, those laws relating to civil liberties. But, such a discussion is best left to the courts, not the fragile collective mind of a Congressional body. Rather than, say, wait to open this Pandora’s Box of stupid until after the mid-term elections, Republicans blindly stormed into another controversy that only benefits them at the fringes of the party.

Andrew Davis is a Myrtle Beach native and former Director of Communications for the national Libertarian Party. Contact him at SCPundit@gmail.com, or follow on Twitter at @SCPundit.

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