State Rep. Nelson Hardwick, R-Horry, through his lawyer, is calling accusations that he sexually harassed a female House staffer false.
I hope that turns out to be the case. We’ll have to wait on that verdict.
But what’s clear - and has been for a long time - is that too many Myrtle Beach area (and South Carolina) legislators are not up to speed on how to conduct themselves while in office.
So here’s a quick guide:
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- Don’t take on a mistress while preaching family values and abandon the state to secretly meet with her in another country. Before Mark Sanford was governor of South Carolina and went along the “Appalachian Trail,” he represented the Myrtle Beach area in Congress.
- Don’t threaten a male friend of your estranged wife with bodily harm, though former Myrtle Beach area Rep. Thad Viers is now facing a different kind of trouble.
- Don’t excuse what amounts to domestic violence from fellow legislators, particularly in a state that has among the highest rates of domestic violence in the nation.
- If at all possible, keep personal struggles with your spouse out of the public sphere.
Oh, and as a general rule, remember:
Don’t touch women who don’t want you to touch them.
This is not an attempt to hold you to a higher standard, even though that’s probably what should happen, given that we’ve given you an enormous amount of power.
This is an attempt to remind you that basic standards of adulthood and decency matter even after we put you in office.
If that low bar is too high to clear, maybe you should find another profession? Please?
And for the rest of us:
We are on the buckle of the Bible Belt. Why don’t we seem more bothered by these kinds of events? Why do we keep sending the folks who do this back to office?
And why, given our focus on personal responsibility and morality, did we vote for this guy during the last Republican primary season given all of his personal baggage?
The most charitable answer is that we believe in second chances and redemption. But the skeptics among us might see politics at play, that party loyalty too often trumps basic decency and morality.
Our leaders have things to answer for - but so do we.