More than 300 Republican activists turned out Monday night at the Veranda, located on Global Drive near Mauldin, to hear encouraging news from a panel of conservative leaders.
On the panel were statehouse representative Adam Morgan, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, former US representative and US Senator Jim DeMint, and national State Freedom Caucus Network president Andy Roth.
The caucus is a group of about 20 Republicans, some newly elected, who are members of the South Carolina House of Representatives.
The members of this caucus have raised eyebrows, as well as blood pressures, among the good ole boy Republican establishment in Columbia by refusing to sign an overly restrictive loyalty oath instituted by GOP leadership that would preclude them from campaigning against fellow Republicans.
As a result, they have been refused entry into the larger Republican caucus, thus making them, basically, second-class Republicans in the legislature.
The goal of the network is to establish freedom caucuses in state legislatures throughout the country. So far, causes have been started in ten states – South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota.
Roth described the freedom caucuses as consisting of the most conservative members of their legislatures. DeMint, along with former North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, were among the founders of the first caucus, in Washington, D. C., in 2015.
Speaking of DeMint, Roth said, “They got tired of the way the House was operating.”
DeMint agreed. “The Republican Party always needs to be pushed in the right direction.” Although DeMint served in the caucus on a national level, he said that issues need to be pursued at the state level.
Morgan said that his heart was full at seeing a capacity crowd at the event, which was sponsored by the Fourth District Republican Club.
Morgan told the crowd that he ran for office because he wanted to change the world but found that that world did not want to be changed.
Even though the South Carolina House has a Republican super majority, Morgan pointed out that the state is dead last in its CPAC rating. CPAC is the Conservative Political Action Committee. He said that terrible bills are being introduced into the legislature.
Morgan has taken to posting pictures of the House's vote board, for which he has received push back from establishment Republicans. He said that more transparency is needed.
During the budget process the caucus went line by line cutting wasteful spending, proposing an “alternative conservative vision for the budget.” “During budget week you would have thought we threw a nuclear bomb in chamber,” said Morgan. “We have faced unbelievable pressure,” he said, adding, “We get yelled at regularly at our desks.”
When the freedom caucus pushed for the removal in the budget of several million dollars proposed for colleges and universities to support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), it was the Republican establishment that pushed back. “It was Republican members who lost their minds,” said Morgan.
DEI is a 'woke', politically correct movement sweeping throughout the country in institutions and workplaces.
Morgan noted that a big difference between legislating now and in years past is that, in the past, a lot of the back and forth debate in the Republican caucus happened behind closed doors. Now, the intra-party fights happen on the House floor, making it plain for all to see who are conservatives and who are RINO's (Republican in Name Only).
“We represent the people,” said Morgan of the caucus, “not the bureaucrats,” adding, “Why we need the Freedom Caucus is because for too long in South Carolina the lobbyists and the bureaucrats and the establishment Republicans have completely dominated and railroaded this state. Those days are over.”
Roth said that he was impressed with the 20 members when he met and trained them in Washington.
Morgan said that the goal of the caucus is to defend and preserve fundamental liberties. “The stakes couldn't be higher,” he said.
Because of their efforts “it's been an all-out assault on the members,” said Morgan, not only by the GOP establishment, but also by the media.
However, Morgan is not discouraged. Rather, he is energized. Despite all the criticism that the caucus is receiving by the media, he said, “I love it. . . we are so ever the target.” He said that it is exciting to see the Freedom Caucus in action on the House floor.
DeMint said that he experienced the same resistance from fellow Republicans in Washington.
“I found it so isolating to do the right thing,” said DeMint. He said that conservatives need a group to support each other.
Roth echoed that sentiment. “When you're fighting the way you guys are fighting and the bullets are flying and they're beating you down and even you are trying to start second guessing yourself, when you have colleagues with you who will help you up and give you that positive reinforcement, there's no stopping you guys and you guys will be the next leaders of the state and you're going to turn this place around as long as you stick together and fight,” he said.
DeMint encouraged the caucus members, several of whom were in attendance on the front row, to hold on a for a year or two and that they would get things done. He told them to just keep on going.
“We are not always called on to win,” said DeMint, “we are called on to be faithful.” He told them that they have the power to reshape the Republican party.
“We've seen already with what the Freedom Caucus has done,” said DeMint. “they've got some things done out of session just by speaking up and shining a light on things and that's what we've seen all over the country.”
Through the efforts of the Freedom Caucus, a taxpayer-funded transgender clinic for minors at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston was shut down. “We have had several significant wins,” said Morgan.
Roth mentioned victories in Georgia, Mississippi and Wyoming, as well.
Morgan said, “The conservatives across the state are hungry for people to actually fight for their values.”
DeMint and Roth said that the three most important goals of the caucus are educational choice, the budget and judicial reform.
The forum was moderated by WORD 98.9 talk show hosts Tara Servatius and Charlie James.
In conclusion, James asked, “How can we help?”
Morgan encouraged the citizenry to be informed and active. “I believe the Freedom Caucus is a movement. . . It's the people who are pushing these issues and are even telling us what to go for.”
Morgan said that a lot of their ideas come from the grassroots and that the conservative grassroots have been “hugely supportive.” Still, lamented Morgan, “Unfortunately in South Carolina we are too sleepy.”