Give Me Liberty (from masks) or Give Me Death
August 31st, 2020
Update from NASL member John DeWorken:
South Carolina has a long history of fierce opposition to big government. Simply put, her people don’t like being told what to do, whether it is by King George III, Congress or even state government.
It is commonplace to see a pick-up truck sporting a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag waving from the bed of the truck. And, the South Carolina Senate even has a “William Wallace Caucus,” a clear ode to the Scottish rebel leader of the 13th Century, which prides itself on limited government.
Its long history encapsulates a fight from real and even perceived tyranny.
South Carolina’s Francis Marion is one of the Palmetto State’s first insurgents. Marion, known as the Swamp Fox and on which Mel Gibson loosely based his character in “The Patriot,” is one of the key Revolutionary War leaders against the British Army. He also is thought of as one of the fathers of guerilla warfare, which evolved into today’s special forces.
Decades later in 1860, it was South Carolina that was the first state to secede from the Union. Unsurprisingly, there are many in today’s Palmetto State who would prefer to live without the Federal government’s “interference” at varying degrees.
South Carolina is a beautiful state, but, it is an oftentimes harsh country, too, with mountains to the north and marsh and brackish water in the Lowcountry. Her people are honest, polite, and hardworking; but, who generally want to be left alone.
South Carolina continues this rebellious independence even in today’s world.
Not too long ago, it was only after the Federal government withheld millions of dollars of highway funding did South Carolina finally enact a mandatory seatbelt law. And, today, motorcycle riders can still hit the open roads without a helmet. “
Now, another debate has emerged. Enter Stage Left the latest debate, Mask Mandates.
Five months after the Covid-19 virus caused the economy to shut down, mask mandates have become center stage in the pandemic debate. And, there seems to be very little center ground on this issue. Either masks are the answer to the spread of the virus or it is a part of a grand conspiracy.
In South Carolina, pro-mask proponents line up expert epidemiologists and data to confidently make their case. So, too, do mask mandate opponents. Both claim to have data on their side. There is a deep divide between them.
Mask opponents claim such laws infringe on their liberties. They explain it as big government, un-American and a slippery slope. They believe this to be a power grab by governments from the local level to Congress. And, most importantly, they vehemently believe the data backs up their claims, using infection and death rates as foundation for their arguments.
At the time of this writing, there is still no comprehensive mask mandate in South Carolina.
Whether opponents to mask mandates are right or wrong, it is clear that Patrick Henry’s bold and vehement declaration to “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” remains an influential foothold in today’s South Carolina politics.
John DeWorken is a partner in Sunnie & DeWorken, a pro-business government relations firm in South Carolina.