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Let Principles Guide Decision Making

Evaluating positions on issues that come in front me as a member of the SC General Assembly is a task that I take very seriously.  I recognize my decisions and those of my colleagues, directly affect the citizens of this great state.  But it is not a difficult process if you start with guiding principles.  For me, those principles are 1) Limited but effective government, 2) Individual liberty and opportunity, 3) Personal responsibility and accountability, 4) Rule of law and equal justice under the law, and 5) Fiscal responsibility and inter-generational wealth.  With these principles as guides, the decision-making process is eased.

Limited But Effective Government
Thomas Jefferson observed more than two hundred years ago that bad government grows out of too much government.  However he also recognized the need for government.  Our challenge, as it was for the founding fathers and all leaders since, is to find the balance of limited but effective government.  We should always find ourselves needing to debate the need for additional governmental intrusion rather than be faced with reigning in an out of control or overreaching government.  For if we are debating a perceived need to expand beyond the core functions of government we have yet to reach a point of no return.

Individual Liberty & Opportunity
Individual liberty has almost become a catch phrase, a sound bite in today’s “drive-thru” society.  The term is used so much that it has nearly lost its meaning.  Yet it remains the foundation of our society.  Every citizen is free to live a life unencumbered by over-burdensome or unauthorized government intrusion.  With that, every citizen is also granted the opportunity for unlimited success as judged by their own definition.  It is also important to recognize that success is not an entitlement but rather an achievement we each have a right to pursue.

Personal Responsibility & Accountability
With liberty comes great responsibility.  While we are a compassionate and giving society, our actions remain our own.  And we must be accountable to those actions.  We must always remember that government is us.  We are government. We all have a duty and responsibility to care for those that are incapable of caring for themselves – namely our children, the disabled, the elderly, and those legitimately and temporarily struggling.  For the others, government’s role is to ensure an environment that allows for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Our role as individuals is to aggressively engage in that pursuit.

Rule of Law & Equal Justice Under the Law
Our society is based on the rule of law.  While it can be argued that the never-ending creation of laws does create the opportunity for manipulation and the ability of certain classes of citizens to benefit over others, the basis of our system does protect each of us.  Our system of justice must always remain blind and unaffected by the political and social norms of the times.

Fiscal Responsibility & Inter-generational Wealth
Much is said about inappropriate influence in government and the power of special interests.  In fact, this is another catch phrase that no longer enjoys impact.  Government is the people. The people are the government.  And if we are to be honest with ourselves and each other, we are all special interests.  Each of us, whether as individuals or part of a larger group, that engage with government is looking for benefit in one way, shape, or form.  Rather than engage in the distracting accusations of “picking winners and losers”, we must instead remain focused on the fact that every dollar spent by government is done so only after it is extracted directly from the taxpayer or indirectly from the economy which supports us all.  We all have a right to build wealth and to pass that wealth on to our families and heirs as we decide.

I stated in my address at the beginning of 120th legislative session that what the General Assembly does is important.  The issues we face are great.  And the way we deliberate is meaningful. It is an honor for me serve and as we deliberate I will use these principles as my guide.

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