It seems that every other day my state makes national headlines, and not because of our wonderful tourist attractions. South Carolina repeatedly draws attention because of the bad judgment and hypocrisy of its Republican leaders.
People across the country don't know whether to laugh at South Carolina or cry for us as they hear late night monologues about our Republican leaders. South Carolinians are left cringing as our state is repeatedly roasted on Comedy Central and ridiculed on cable news.
We hoped that in 2010 we would be spared the continuation of vulgar and irresponsible behavior by prominent Republican officeholders. Those hopes were dashed less than two months into the new year.
Just over a week ago, South Carolina Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom's affair with Republican Superintendent of Education candidate Kelly Payne became public. While South Carolinians were disappointed in the comptroller general's actions, we're not totally shocked. This isn't the first time we've seen this sort of problem at the highest reaches of the SC GOP. And Eckstrom isn't even the only Republican representing moral hypocrisy in S.C. this year.
Last month Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer made mean, ignorant statements comparing children receiving reduced-price school lunches to stray animals, saying their parents were being encouraged to breed because the public was feeding their offspring.
Bauer's comments are representative of the same shrunken conscience that helped him talk his way past speeding over 100 mph, and acting so outrageously at a traffic stop in Columbia that a police officer had to pull a gun on him.
This sort of hypocrisy and irresponsibility are now regular staples of the Republican menu. Let us look back at just a few examples in the past few years:
Governor Mark Sanford abandoned his wife and four sons (as well as 4.5 million South Carolinians) to pursue a secret tryst with his "soul mate" in Argentina -- and tricked his staff into lying about his whereabouts.
Congressman Joe Wilson embarrassed not only all South Carolinians but even many Republicans in other states. His calling President Obama a liar during an official state function is crude behavior unmatched in American history. That outburst was doubly repulsive because he brags about his officer status in the military while he insults his commander in chief, a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice if he were not retired.
U.S. Senator Jim DeMint has adopted a social philosophy that hardly reaches past the Dark Ages. In July, he called on Americans to help him "break" our own president, and he is blissfully -- and immorally -- unconcerned about the hundreds of thousands of S.C. individuals and families with no access to good-quality, affordable health care.
Charles Sharpe, the Republican commissioner of agriculture, was elected in 2002 and shortly afterward went to prison on charges related to a cockfighting ring.
And let us not forget Thomas Ravenel, the Republican state treasurer elected in 2006, who resigned and went to federal prison after being convicted on drug charges in 2008.
Or the former Republican head of the State Election Commission, who compared the First Lady's ancestors to a gorilla. Or the Republican assistant attorney general who was caught last year with a stripper, Viagra, and sex toys... in a cemetery. The list goes on.
This pattern of recklessness and hypocrisy is not an accident. It comes from a view of the world that says only a few are deserving of the benefits of this country's institutions, and that members of this privileged class, which includes Republican elected officials, are entitled to special treatment and don't have to meet the same standards as other South Carolinians.
One would think the Republican Party would see fit to stop talking about morality and start practicing it for the sake of our state, or at least their party's brand. Instead, the SC GOP continues to look the other way while its leadership tarnishes the state's image with bad behavior.
South Carolina Democrats are tired of looking the other way. Last week, the SCDP launched a new website, www.scgopscandal.com, to help voters keep up with the number of scandals Republicans have had in our state over the last several years. We believe it's time to shed light on the corruption the GOP has created in our state so that voters can end it.
The new website counts the days since Republican scandals took place. I'm counting the days until November, when voters will have an opportunity to elect more Democratic leaders who will make us proud, and fewer Republicans to provide fodder for late night comedy shows.