In March 1854, 30 opponents of slavery gathered in Ripon, Wisconsin.
These objectors recognized that America’s future prosperity depended on its ability to expand opportunity to as many people as possible. They understood that this goal could only be achieved if the union, increasingly polarized by slavery and talks of secession, was preserved and secured. It was there that the Republican Party was born.
In 2016, however, that same party now stands for division, exclusion and isolation. Donald Trump enjoys support of white nationalists, praises the tactics of autocrats (while also employing some of their supporters), advocates trade wars and tax cuts for the rich, and preaches a message of hate toward Mexicans and Muslims.
Here in South Carolina, we have observed firsthand the deterioration of the Party of Lincoln into the Party of Trump.
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Democrats say, "Enough is enough." Our party offers a better way to bring opportunity, security and unity to South Carolina.
S.C. Republicans have controlled the Governor’s Mansion and both chambers of the General Assembly continuously since 2003.
Eight of the nine members of our congressional delegation are Republicans. If Republican policies were going to deliver results for South Carolinians, surely they would have done so by now.
Republicans have failed to provide opportunity to South Carolinians striving to get ahead — we are 49th in economic mobility. Our schools remain woefully neglected, and our public universities are the most expensive in the nation for in-state students from low-income families.
Republicans have voted to cut Head Start, nutrition and Pell Grants.
South Carolina ranks 46th in hourly wages and 47th in per capita GDP.
Democrats will raise the minimum wage.
If some of our congressional Republicans had their way, job training would be cut, there would be no more S.C. jobs that rely on the Export-Import Bank to compete internationally, and workers losing their jobs because of global trade would be abandoned.
Republicans have failed to keep South Carolinians secure from threats of all kinds. Nearly 200 South Carolinians are expected to die every year because Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid — which, given the offer by South Carolina hospitals to offset whatever minimal state cost may arise, would have zero impact on our state budget.
Our state’s roads are the deadliest in the country. We know how to make them safer.
But the Republicans in the Legislature refuse to devote the resources to do so. And the majority of S.C. Republicans in Congress voted against the most recent highway bill.
South Carolina has the ignominious distinction of being one of the deadliest states for women.
Yet all of the Republicans in our congressional delegation voted against the most recent authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Republicans would put us at greater risk from overseas threats. Donald Trump’s bigoted fear-mongering would alienate allies and embolden extremist groups.
ISIS is openly rooting for him to win because of the damage he would inflict upon America’s image in the world.
Hillary Clinton has the judgment and experience to prevent ISIS from regenerating and stop its sympathizers from attacking us.
Regardless of the perpetrator’s motive — religious extremism, racism, homophobia, mental illness, anger or anything else — the harm that is perpetrated is likely to be much greater if a firearm is involved.
Our state has the 11th highest rate of deaths by firearm, in a country that has a far higher rate than the rest of the developed world. Yet our Republican politicians refuse to support even the most basic gun safety measures, like requiring universal background checks and prohibiting suspected terrorists from buying guns.
Just as Donald Trump would fail to unite us as one America, Republicans have failed to unite us as one South Carolina.
Gov. Nikki Haley has talked a good game, saying in her State of the State address that we are all brothers and sisters.
But actions speak louder than words, and Republicans have allowed far too many South Carolinians to endure hardships they would never allow their own brothers and sisters to endure.
Enough is enough of dangerous Republican divisiveness and failed Republican governance. Only Democrats can deliver the opportunity, security, and unity that the founders of the Republican Party sought.
Margie Bright Matthews is a member of the S.C. Senate from Walterboro. James Smith, John King, and Mandy Powers Norrell are S.C. House members from Columbia, Rock Hill, and Lancaster respectively. They are the co-chairs of the 2016 South Carolina Democratic Coordinated Campaign.