A Divided Freedom: A Tale of Two Caucuses

Contrasting Visions of Two Caucuses

10 mins read

Two Caucuses, Two Perspectives

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” is a famous quote by British novelist and journalist Gerald Seymour, it reflects the subjective nature of the term “freedom.” What one person views as a terrorist act, another person may view as a justified means of fighting for freedom. This idea has been echoed by many other great thinkers and writers throughout history, including Confederate General Robert E. Lee. In a letter to his wife in 1861, Lee wrote, this war is “not a contest for slavery” but rather a fight for “constitutional freedom” and “the rights & privileges of States.”

These two quotes serve as a reminder that freedom is a complex and multifaceted concept, often shaped by an individual’s experiences and beliefs. They highlight the need for empathy and understanding when engaging in political discourse. What one group perceives as freedom may not be viewed the same way by others. This notion is particularly relevant in the South Carolina legislature, where two drastically different Freedom caucuses compete for their version of freedom. It is a poignant reminder that freedom is not a fixed or objective reality, but rather a dynamic and ever-evolving concept that requires ongoing dialogue, understanding, and the courage to fight for it when necessary.

A world made free from freedom

Although the previous two quotes accurately reflect the gravity of the situation in the South Carolina legislature, I prefer to reference a different and more complex quote. In the sixth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), “Avengers,” Loki, brother of Thor, says, 

“I come with glad tidings of a world made free from freedom. Freedom is life’s great lie. Once you accept that in your heart, you will know peace.”

In response, Nick Fury replies, “You say freedom, but I think you mean the other thing.” Fury is referring to the fact that Loki was using the idea of freedom as a way to justify his desire for power and control over others. Fury was essentially calling out Loki for using the concept of freedom in a manipulative and deceitful manner. While Loki is a fictional character and these are two very real political groups, one of them certainly seems to subscribe to Loki’s version of freedom.

The South Carolina Freedom Caucus (SCFC)

The South Carolina Freedom Caucus emerged quite recently, having been formed in April of the previous year. It is part of several similar state caucuses established under the State Freedom Caucus Network, which was launched in 2021 with the backing of the U.S. House Freedom Caucus. With twenty members in the South Carolina House of Representatives, the South Carolina Freedom Caucus is the largest among the eleven state-affiliated caucuses. Click here to view the members.

Legislative priorities for the SCFC members this legislative year session 

  • Prohibiting teachers from discussing certain concepts such as privilege and gender identity (H. 3728) and defunding public schools
  • Requiring representatives of church-operated childcare centers to be from “registered faith-based centers” (H. 3745)
  • Opposing the Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act (H. 3014), which aims to establish penalties for hate crimes in South Carolina
  • Blocking a bill that defines antisemitism (H. 3686) due to concerns that it may include anti-bias and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training in the state.

The South Carolina Freedom Caucus (SCFC) is advocating for a controversial bill, H3549, also known as the South Carolina Pre-Natal Equal Protection Act. This bill was sponsored by SC Rep. Rob Harris, R-Spartanburg, who is a member of the South Carolina Freedom Caucus. The bill proposes that women who get abortions in South Carolina could face potential sentences ranging from 30 years in prison to the death penalty. It’s essential to note that the SCFC is heavily supported by the House Freedom Caucus.

The SCFC is also involved in legal action against a South Carolina public school district and may sue a charter school in Greenville County for allegedly teaching concepts related to critical race theory, which the caucus opposes.

The Freedom Caucus of South Carolina (FCSC)

On the flip side of this freedom coin being tossed in the air stands the Freedom Caucus of South Carolina (FCSC). The FCSC currently consists of three Democratic legislators: Representatives Todd Rutherford, Deon Tedder, and Roger Kirby. The primary goal of FCSC is to limit government intervention and expansion while supporting the Constitution.

In an interview with a founding member of the caucus, Rep. Rutherford stated, “This is about South Carolina. This is about the future of South Carolina. This is about people believing that there’s a group up here that pretends to vote for freedom and encourages freedom, and that’s exactly what they’re not doing.”

According to the members of FCSC, they are the “real freedom caucus.” They argue that the term “freedom” has been hijacked by the “South Carolina Freedom Caucus,” which they claim votes for unconstitutional measures.

“I don’t know how you support freedom and don’t support the Constitution. I don’t know how you support freedom and vote against things that allow individuals to have more freedom, not less,”  Rep. Rutherford stated in a previous interview.

The significance of the second Freedom Caucus 

The creation of the FCSC represents a significant development in South Carolina politics and is arguably the most important news for the state’s Democrats since being moved to the First in the Nation Primary. The formation of this caucus indicates a dramatic shift in Democratic strategy, which until now, has allowed Republicans to dominate the narrative of patriotism, morality, and freedom. As an experienced marketer and public relations professional, I have witnessed the Democrats lose the messaging battle time and time again for over three decades, while the Republicans have written their story and defined who they are.

However, with the creation of the FCSC, Democrats are taking control of the narrative, refusing to allow ultra-conservatives to claim they are fighting for freedom while actively seeking to limit South Carolinians’ freedoms. The FCSC is declaring that they will not stand by and let the term “freedom” be hijacked any longer. They are fighting for true freedom by opposing legislation that infringes on personal freedoms and that allows the self-serving wishes of government bureaucrats and special interest groups to out weight the needs and desires of South Carolina voters.

In essence, the FCSC is taking a stand for what is right and just, advocating for individual freedoms and protecting the true concept of democracy. Their actions demonstrate that they are committed to ensuring that South Carolina is a place where freedom thrives, where the voices of the people are heard, and where government is accountable to its citizens.

I don’t know what version of freedom you subscribe to, as for me, I will stand with the Freedom Caucus of South Carolina (FCSC). I find solace in the words of Thomas Jefferson. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” If that be the case, put me down for a pint towards freedom. For better men than me have given far more. 

There are always men like you

I now leave you in the same manner I greeted you, with a quote by Loki.

“Kneel before me. I said, KNEEL! Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”

I say to the South Carolina Freedom Caucus (SCFC), what the elder said to Loki. “There are always men like you.” 

Michael Bailey, a trailblazer in the field of photojournalism and a profound political writer, possesses the exceptional ability to distill complex political issues into accessible narratives that resonate with readers of all backgrounds. As the vanguard of the editorial team, Michael not only serves as a new media correspondent but also showcases his distinct talent as a photojournalist. His portfolio is a testament to his expertise in crafting news stories and intimate profiles that vividly portray the cultural, social, economic, and political journeys of minorities, both in South Carolina and beyond. With a rich tapestry of experience spanning media, business, and politics, Michael has emerged as a highly regarded voice and a sought-after commentator, offering invaluable insights into the challenges faced by people of color.

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