When the Palmetto State elected Lindsey Graham, we got the moderate GOP senator we didn’t want. He has been the poster boy, along with John McCain, for unprincipled leadership and represents everything wrong with the modern Republican Party. In the past few months alone, he’s irritated people across the political spectrum with numerous actions from helping pen the recent amnesty bill to advocating boycotting the Olympics if NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden wasn’t turned over by Russian authorities. When all is said and done, Graham needs to be unseated and replaced with someone like Senator Jim DeMint.
The one consistent aspect of Graham’s voting record is his opposition to conservative issues. He can vote for whatever sounds good at the time and change the next time if public outcry is strong enough, but he doesn’t come to the table with ideas on how to make things better.
DeMint clearly did, and that helped him enjoy the kind of success he did as a Senator and now as head of the Heritage Foundation. He could stand for something and vote on his principles rather than side with what is popular that day.
South Carolina state senator Lee Bright said, “Graham has let us down on so many issues. A lot of folks thought he would follow in the footsteps of Strom Thurmond (R), but instead, we got another Fritz Hollings (D).” Except I would argue that Hollings was more conservative on fiscal issues than Lindsey Graham is. He has not done what we thought he would do. He is not the Graham who went after Bill Clinton at the impeachment hearings. He is the Graham who has fallen under the tutelage of John McCain.
Next year will be the first time since the formation of the Tea Party that Lindsey Graham will be up for reelection, and South Carolina conservatives want to replace Graham with someone who will side with a Jim DeMint or Tim Scott and not oppose them for another 6 years.
Graham has made it clear by his voting record and his behaviors that he is no DeMint Republican, much less a Ronald Reagan conservative. Jim DeMint was until then South Carolina’s answer to Graham, and one of the Senate’s most consistent conservatives who came from the same state as the ultimate GOP moderate. Polar opposites, the two actually had an ongoing, overt confrontation.
Graham has been very vocal in his criticism of the South Carolina GOP for defending the Republican platform: In October of 2009, Graham was publicly quoted making derogatory statements about the South Carolina Republican Party, including “We’re not going to be the party of angry white guys.“ Graham vowed to continue working with Democrats in building bipartisan coalitions to address global warming, health care, Afghanistan, and other key challenges, and told Republicans who resisted his policies that “If you don’t like it, you can leave.” For a person intent on “broadening the base,” he certainly is callous about dismissing his current base.
While both DeMint and Graham claim to have a 100% pro-life stance on the surface by voting on the same on issues from unborn children being eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (both voted yes) to preventing minors from crossing state boundaries to get an abortion (yes) to expanding research to embryonic stem cell lines (no), social conservatives have criticized Graham for his support of Supreme Court nominee confirmations who were radical activist judges, while his support, if any, of conservative judges has been much, much weaker.
In August 2007, in response to a Democratic effort to enact legislation granting amnesty to illegal aliens, DeMint was a leader in opposition, while Graham supported the bill (even though it did not prevent new illegal immigration or provide for any sort of border security.) Graham not only voted for the bill; he actually thanked Ted Kennedy for his work on it and stated that he was “going to tell the bigots to shut up.”
More recently, in June 2013, Graham acted as part of the infamous “Gang of 8” and helped to pen an immigration bill that provides effective amnesty to illegal aliens without taking action to close the border first (and allows repeated felons to not only become citizens, but have their records wiped clean.) The bill was seen as a destructive one even for those who support the idea of amnesty for illegal aliens. Graham joined the Democrats in invoking cloture and supporting the bill, while Senator Tim Scott (DeMint’s replacement) voted in opposition.
On budget and economic issues, the two strongly differ. DeMint steadfastly opposed any spending increases, bailouts, modification of bankruptcy rules, and other fiscally liberal legislation. He voted for reduced spending, paying off the debt, and limiting federal spending growth to the per-capita inflation rate; and he sponsored a balanced budget constitutional amendment. Graham, in contrast, has exhibited a pattern of voting on economic issues that opposes the philosophy of free enterprise and conservative principles.
In March 2012, Senator DeMint voted to uphold the principles of free enterprise and an economy free of government manipulation by voting against providing funding for the Export-Import Bank. Graham, on the other hand, voted for the funding, in violation of those principles.
In July of 2008, Graham voted for the TARP “big bank bailout” bill that DeMint opposed. He also supported unconstitutional bailouts for independent mortgage institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Graham’s record of opposing DeMint’s conservative agenda is striking. But even Graham understands that he is not in good standing with most conservatives and expects a challenger next year.
When asked why there is such a passion nationally to replace Graham with a true conservative, Sen. Lee Bright answered, “Conservatives feel that South Carolina should help and not hurt. And they expected a U.S. senator from a ‘Red State”’to help the conservative cause and not be an impediment to it.”