Government guide not for dummies
Sunday, February 02, 2014 12:00 AM
You live in South Carolina, but what do you know about the state?
Perhaps you remember some of your early history classes and know South Carolina became the eighth state in 1788. You know the state flag sports a Palmetto tree and crescent moon that look great on tumblers, auto stickers, key chains and the like. And maybe you even know why those make up the flag.
OK, maybe you also know the state flower is the Yellow Jessamine, the state bird is the Carolina Wren, the state drink is milk and the state dance is the Shag. And you even know the dance has absolutely no connection to the British slang usage of the word.
Those bits of information and knowledge are great to have, but how familiar are you with your home state's governmental structure? Sure, you know we have a governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer and so forth. You also know state representatives and senators gather in Columbia to enact legislation. But do you know has the upper hand in our government's current structure? Who wields the most power? The governor or the Legislature?
Sure, we all lead busy lives. We don't go to Columbia to watch the processes. Frankly, most of us cannot go to Columbia to witness lawmakers' meetings — much less our city and county council meetings, and school board meetings — because we lead busy lives. We elect these people and if we don't trust them to serve us well, we at the very least hope they will as we go about your daily lives. A shame? Frankly, yes. The majority of residents in any given town, city or state take too passive an interest in the goings on in the chambers of government.
That said, we should at least have a fairly solid understanding of the government's structure. We should be familiar with how it operates. In short, know who can do what and who does what. If nothing else, you come away knowing who to thank or who to blame, right?
The point of all this is to say the good folks at the Jim Self Center on the Future at the Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs at Clemson University recently produced a guide to the state's legislative process. It's clear, concise and designed for you, the residents of South Carolina.
How concise? It's only 12 pages. How clear? Well, let's just say it is far easier to read and comprehend than so many pieces of legislation coming out from under the dome in Columbia. Oh, and page 12 offers something more. It tells readers what they, as residents of this great state, can do to be more involved in the governmental process, how they can be more effective as residents and voters.
So, where do you get one of these? Printed copies are available at the Jim Self Center, but unless you're just up for a good road trip you can download a copy at
Copies are also going to be available at all county public libraries.
So go ahead and bone up on what makes South Carolina's government tick. Knowing more might help you avoid being less ticked off, too.