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Horowitz: The South Carolina RINO loyalty oath and the next big conservative fight

Like so many red states that vote reliably Republican, for years South Carolina’s elected Republicans failed to reciprocate that loyalty to Republican voters. After all, it’s the state that sends people like Lindsey Graham, Nancy Mace, and Joe Wilson to Washington. Wilson just introduced a bill to unveil a bust of the Ukrainian president at the Capitol. But the state legislature is no better, as the RINOs squander solid supermajorities GOP voters just delivered. Now it appears that this divide between the voters and the party elites is coming to a head.

Buoyed by an auspicious election result, Republicans were looking forward to strong supermajorities in both chambers this session. Picking up seven House seats in November, Republicans now command an 88-36 majority, the largest they’ve ever secured. The Senate was not up for election, but Republicans already command a 30-16 majority, and in conjunction with the governorship, they should have a free lane to govern in accordance with the values of the majority of voters in the Palmetto State. Unfortunately, like nearly every super red state, the elected Republicans reflect the values of Lindsey Graham more than Ralph Norman, the only SC Republican to join the rebellion against Kevin McCarthy last week.

As part of a growing trend nationwide thanks to the State Freedom Caucus Network, conservatives in the South Carolina state House established a 20-member Freedom Caucus to better focus a conservative agenda on issues like school choice, gender sanity, and medical freedom. But in order to pass this agenda, they’d have to contend with a downright hostile GOP leadership and a clearly unhelpful governor. That’s where the empire sought to strike back.

House leaders Davey Hiott and Tommy Pope have pushed a “loyalty oath” whereby members must sign a document promising not to “engage in campaign activities of any kind against any other Caucus member in good standing.” They are also pressuring members not to take pictures of the voting board with intent to share it on social media or share insider information with outside conservatives. Members were blocked from attending Tuesday’s caucus meeting if they did not sign the document.

The point about sharing voting records speaks to the subterfuge forged by nearly every red-state leadership team for years. They campaign as conservatives, using the issues of guns and abortion in particular, to win primaries, but then serve as conduits for the Chamber of Commerce, the health care cartel, and woke companies throughout the sessions. They want to keep the veneer of being a conservative while doing the opposite on policy, which is why they are so frantic to stifle any focus on voting records. They know few voters focus on state legislatures and seek to keep it that way. The last thing they need is a barrage of calls into their offices demanding they actually run their red states like Democrats govern in California.

As for the pledge on campaigning against incumbents, on the surface it’s reasonable to ask for unity between sitting members in a way that will cut in both directions. The problem is that there is no concurrent loyalty oath that these other members will actually govern like conservatives rather than serving as vassals for woke corporations. The minute they sign our pledge to govern as conservatives, it will be a lot easier to commit not to primary RINOs.

Take my list of medical freedom ideas, for example. Ideally, each of these items should easily pass supermajority Republican legislatures. But given that most leaders of judiciary or health-related committees are owned by the lobbyists, they are non-starters.

Just like their counterparts in D.C., the state freedom caucuses must stop being potted plants on the GOP’s corporatist plantation and use their leverage to force the GOP onto our plantation. They way to do so is to create an inflection point where voters become aware that indeed there is a schism within the party. The only way Republicans can continue placating conservative voters and the special interests at the same time is by pushing fake unity and a lack of transparency and debate in the legislative process.

To that end, the state freedom caucuses should remain united and not allow their members to be picked off one by one. They must use leverage to force agreements to hold floor votes on the critical issues of our time. We already have one Democrat Party, along with a number of states where conservatives have no voice. In the remaining states where Republican voters predominate, it is their will that should carry the day.

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