January 23, 2009, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
One of the most important political arenas is that of the State Legislature. The most effective way to change policy for good or evil is to focus on changing it at the state level first, and many of the greatest Statesmen can be found in the State Legislatures.
One such Statesman, my own Senator Kevin Bryant, has graciously allowed me to interview him via email, and to share it with the Patriots. Senator Bryant is a homeschool father and a leader in his local church, and has just been elected to his second term in the South Carolina Senate. Before running for Senate, he served as GOP chairman for Anderson county for four years, demonstrating great leadership and ability in that role. In the legislature, Senator Bryant has been a consistent, untiring voice for the LIFT principles (limited government, individual rights, free enterprise, and traditional values). As one of his constituents, I can say that he has often taken hits for standing up for principle, but he keeps his eyes on the goal of duty without letting the results deter or distract him. We are grateful to him for taking the time to share from his experiences with us.
1. How did you get started in politics?
Politics has been a life long interest for me, and in 1998 I was elected GOP county chairman. This was the first elected political position I ever held.
2. What motivated you to run for office?
My wife, Ann, & I have always felt a need to stand up for the liberty of the unborn. The pro-life issue was the first issue that drew us into politics, yet we care deeply about many other conservative causes
3. What do you know now about serving as a legislator that you wish you had known when you were first elected?
Instead of filing bills, look for moving bills and offering amendments on the floor. For example, I filed a bill that would allow for the death penalty to be sought in for child molesters. The bill never got a sub committee hearing. There was a movement around the county to pass “Jessica’s Law”, which increases penalties for child molesters and calls for electronic monitoring of these predators. When the bill was on the Senate floor, I introduced an amendment calling for the death penalty of child molesters. This sentencing immediately got the attention of the press and the people of SC interested. With the public behind this amendment, the legislature was forced to vote and now it is the law of the land.
4. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a Conservative Senator?
The greatest challenge has been fighting the reckless spending habits of the legislature.
5. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
The greatest accomplishments so far have been passing the death penalty for child predators, and passing an ultrasound requirement before abortion.
6. What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in running for office in the future?
Keep involved in politics, and start with a career in business. Retail is great to learn people skills.
7. What do you consider to be the most important element(s) necessary for running a successful campaign?
The most important elements are organization, keeping in touch with supporters and never taking any support for granted.
8. What do you see to be the biggest challenge conservatism will face in the immediate future in terms of political battles, and what can we do to win?
Republicans controlled washington for 6 years and doubled the national debt. Trying to identify as a true reformer has been a challenge.
9. In what ways can concerned citizens in the private sector influence and impact the decisions and policies of the legislature?
Get to know your elected officials, and pray for your elected officials.
10. We hear a lot about “reaching across the aisle” and working with Democrats. Tell us what actually doing that looks like. Is it possible to do it without betraying principle?
Some times it is possible. Many liberal democrats are warming up to school choice for example, especially minority Democrats. When it comes to drawing the line with the political give-and-take, this involves some very tough decisions. I normally look at the issue this way. If this is the only chance we’ll get to “take a bite out of the apple”, I normally am reluctant to compromise and take an all or nothing position. If the compromise is a baby step in the right direction, I sometimes swallow a compromise if I see the possibility of a future opportunity the further the issue.
11. How do you handle negative press?
In my district negative press by liberal media helps, as my constituents know the liberal slant. Keeping a blog updates my constituents also.
12. How do you detect and counter under-the-table tricks the opposing side may attempt in order to further their agenda?
As Reagan put it, try to trust, but verify.
13. How do you keep your family so involved in your role as a Senator?
It is a struggle and they get tired of it sometimes. I often find myself having to force myself to “turn the wheels” off and focus on my wife and kids and make sure their needs are met. I don’t try to drag them to everything, just encourage them to do as much as they can without any pressure.
14. How do you deal with discouragement when it seems like you’re fighting a losing battle?
When I’m taking a principled stand, defeat does not bother me too much. I am grateful to have a conservative constituency that appreciates a good fight.
Thank you so much, Senator, for sharing with us and for your exemplary service in the SC Legislature. May God bless, prosper, and protect you and your family as you fight for conservative values.