Written by Joshua Cook
When the Palmetto State elected Lindsey Graham, we got the moderate GOP senator we didn’t want.
He has been the poster boy, along with John McCain, for unprincipled leadership and represents everything wrong with the modern Republican Party. In the past few months alone, he’s irritated people across the political spectrum with numerous actions from helping pen the recent amnesty bill to advocating boycotting the Olympics if NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden wasn’t turned over by Russian authorities. When all is said and done, Graham needs to be unseated and replaced with someone like Senator Jim DeMint.
The one consistent aspect of Graham’s voting record is his opposition to conservative issues. He can vote for whatever sounds good at the time and change the next time if public outcry is strong enough, but he doesn’t come to the table with ideas on how to make things better.
DeMint clearly did and that helped him enjoy the kind of success he did as a Senator and now as head of the Heritage Foundation. He could stand for something and vote on his principles rather than side with what is popular that day.
Graham is very good communicating to low-information Republicans. He will say one thing to the Republicans at the conferences and the dinners playing to his conservative base but behind the scenes he plots with Democrats to pass liberal legislation.
Conservative Talk show host, Mark Levin blasted South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham for his moderate positions and his betrayal of the constitutional conservative principles of the Republican Party, calling him the Sen. Arlen Specter of the South.
South Carolina state senator Lee Bright said, “Graham has let us down on so many issues. A lot of folks thought he would follow in the footsteps of Strom Thurmond (R), but instead, we got another Fritz Hollings (D).” Except I would argue that Hollings was more conservative on fiscal issues than Lindsey Graham is. He has not done what we thought he would do. He is not the Graham that went after Bill Clinton at the impeachment hearings. He is the Graham that has fallen under the tutelage of John McCain.”
Next year will be the first one since the formation of the Tea Party that Lindsey Graham has been up for reelection, and South Carolina conservatives want to replace Graham with someone who will side with a Jim Demint or Tim Scott and not oppose them for another 6 years.
As reported by The State, in 2009, Graham shouted down a heckler at a party meeting saying "he wanted to build an open party that could win in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, as well as South Carolina." Said Graham, "I'm a winner, pal. Winning matters to me. If it doesn't matter to you, there's the exit sign... I'm not going to give this party over to people who can't win." But DeMint disagreed and asserted that he would rather have 30 Republican senators who stand on principle than 60 who have none.
The epic battles between Graham and DeMint did not stop there. Graham has made it clear by his voting record and his behaviors that he is no DeMint Republican, much less a Ronald Reagan conservative. Jim DeMint was until then South Carolina’s answer to Graham, and one of the Senate’s most consistent conservatives who came from the same state as the ultimate GOP moderate. Polar opposites, the two actually had an ongoing, overt confrontation.
They supported opposing candidates in other states’ primary elections multiple times, and DeMint usually won those battles, at least at the primary level. In the general election, enough of the Tea Party candidates lost to cost Republicans a seemingly possible 50 senators, but supporters of Tea Party candidates, including Rush Limbaugh, argued that the loss was due to abandonment by party elites, who chose to finance less competitive races in states like California rather than focus on Colorado, Nevada, or Delaware, where ideologically pure candidates stood a chance.
Graham has been very vocal in his criticism of the South Carolina GOP for defending the Republican platform: In October of 2009, Graham was publicly quoted making derogatory statements about the South Carolina Republican Party, including "We're not going to be the party of angry white guys.“ Graham vowed to continue working with Democrats in building bipartisan coalitions to address global warming, health care, Afghanistan and other key challenges, and telling Republicans who resisted his policies that "If you don't like it, you can leave." For a person intent on “broadening the base,” he certainly is callous about dismissing his current base.
While both DeMint and Graham claim to have a 100% pro-life stance on the surface by voting on the same on issues from unborn children being eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (both voted yes) to preventing minors from crossing state boundaries to get an abortion (yes), to expanding research to embryonic stem cell lines (no), social conservatives have criticized Graham for his support of Supreme Court nominee confirmations who were radical activist judges, while his support, if any, of conservative judges has been much, much weaker.
In May 2005, Graham played a leading role in the infamous “Gang of 14,” which voted with Democrats to prevent Republicans from overriding Democrat blockage of Republican judicial nominees. Just a year later, he opposed James Haynes, a South Carolina native and conservative lawyer nominated by President George W. Bush for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. This blocked Haynes’ nomination from receiving a full vote in the Senate. Graham said this was because he disagreed with Haynes’ involvement in enhanced interrogation techniques for enemy combatants.
While he was actively destructive toward conservative nominees, Graham has repeatedly helped Obama confirm radical nominees. In August of 2009, DeMint joined 30 fellow Republicans to vote against the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, a famously liberal, activist justice, to the Supreme Court, while Graham joined the Democrats and voted for it. Again, in July 2010, on the issue of confirming Elena Kagan, another noted liberal, to the Supreme Court, DeMint joined fellow Republicans to vote against that nomination, while Graham joined the Democrats and only four other Republicans to vote to confirm it. Both have since been reliable supporters of liberal causes in their rulings.
In November 2012 and in prior years while DeMint was strongly, actively opposing the Law of the Sea Treaty, which would unconstitutionally cede American sovereignty rights to the United Nations, Graham sided with Democrats and against DeMint, Republicans and American interests. The treaty would, among other things, require the U.S. to transfer offshore energy royalties to the ISA, which would redistribute the money to developing countries, require the U.S. to engage in mandatory dispute resolution (opening it up to hostile and frivolous allegations), and impact America’s historic navigational freedoms, naval operations, and customary international law.
Graham has also supported excessive foreign aid to other countries, including state sponsors of terrorism. In November 2011, DeMint opposed a bill creating an unjustified foreign aid budget, while Graham joined the Democrats in supporting it. He has acted similarly on spending bills for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Commerce, and Justice.
In August 2007 in response to a Democratic effort to enact legislation granting amnesty to illegal aliens, DeMint was a leader in opposition, while Graham supported the bill even though it did not prevent new illegal immigration or provide for any sort of border security. Graham not only voted for the bill, he actually thanked Ted Kennedy for his work on it and stated that he was “going to tell the bigots to shut up.”
More recently, in June 2013, Graham acted as part of the infamous “Gang of 8,” and helped to pen an immigration bill that provides effective amnesty to illegal aliens without taking action to close the border first, and which allows repeated felons to not only become citizens, but have their records wiped clean. The bill was seen as a destructive one even for those who support the idea of amnesty for illegal aliens. Graham joined the Democrats in invoking cloture and supporting the bill while Senator Tim Scott (DeMint’s replacement) voted in opposition.
On budget and economic issues the two strongly differ. DeMint steadfastly opposed any spending increases, bailouts, modification of bankruptcy rules, or other fiscally liberal legislation. He voted for reduced spending, paying off the debt and limiting federal spending growth to the per-capita inflation rate, and he sponsored a balanced budget constitutional amendment. Graham, in contrast, has exhibited a pattern of voting on economic issues that opposes the philosophy of free enterprise and conservative principles.
In July 2013, Graham voted with the Democrats to confirm Richard Cordray, a noted leftist promoter of aggressive and radical economic regulation, as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, while Senator Scott voted in opposition.
In May 2013, Graham joined Democrats in voting to pass a massive new internet sales tax with burdensome reporting requirements. Senator Scott and most Republicans opposed the bill, which did pass.
In March 2012, Senator DeMint voted to uphold the principles of free enterprise and an economy free of government manipulation, by voting against providing funding for the Export-Import Bank. Graham, on the other hand, voted for the funding, against DeMint, and in violation of those principles.
In October 2011, DeMint voted against a bill that would grant the Treasury Department power to raise tariffs on international trade with China, while Graham joined the Democrats and voted for it.
In December 2010, DeMint voted against a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts in a compromise with Democrats that failed to make the tax cuts permanent, while Graham joined the Democrats and voted for it.
In March 2009, Graham suggested that consideration should be given to nationalizing the American banking system. This was just after the 2008 economic crisis, and though it was never written into a bill and voted on, the statement, itself shows a shocking amount of irresponsibility and ignorance on Graham’s part. It highlights just how little Graham can be trusted on economic issues.
In August 2008, Graham joined the so-called “Gang of Ten” in supporting Cap and Trade. He worked with Obama to develop new taxes on energy use and spending billions of dollars on alternative fuel vehicles rather than respecting the ability of private industry to resolve the nation's energy problems. DeMint, of course, strongly opposed it.
In July of 2008, Graham voted for the TARP “big bank bailout” bill that DeMint opposed. He also supported unconstitutional bailouts for independent mortgage institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Graham’s record of opposing DeMint’s conservative agenda is striking. But even Graham understands that he is not in good standing with most conservatives and expects a challenger next year.
Currently none of the conservative congressmen in South Carolina are stepping up to challenge Graham, but some citizens are stepping up to the challenge. Some are making frequent visits to the Grover Norquist crowd and other conservative groups in D.C. to seek funding and endorsements.
Richard Cash has already announced he is challenging Graham and has raised $275,000 during the first quarter. Other well-known conservatives like State Senator Lee Bright and Nancy Mace are rumored to run against Graham.
When asked why there is such a passion nationally to replace Graham with a true conservative, Sen. Lee Bright answered, “Conservatives feel that South Carolina should help and not hurt. And they expected a U.S. senator from a “Red State” to help the conservative cause and not be an impediment to it.”
Bright continued. “The challenge is Lindsey Graham has a lot of supporters, and when you serve for that long in Washington, you make a lot of friends and connections. There are a lot of favors to be called in, and I’m sure he will call every one of them.”
Recently over a 100 grassroots conservative activists met for a strategy meeting to replace Graham. They plan to vet each candidate and choose the most conservative candidate who can win against Graham. They are expected to face a tough fight, but they feel they can win with a strong grassroots campaign.
Joshua Cook currently lives with his wife and son in Travelers Rest, SC. He is currently a sales manager. Joshua Cook graduated with a BA from Southeastern University and is a MBA graduate from North Greenville University.