Wherever there’s government, there are ‘Good Ol’ Boys’

Richard Eckstrom S.C. Comptroller

The Good Ol’ Boys are the ones who use government to line their pockets at the expense of taxpayers. They value power over public service, and they place their own interests ahead of the interests of South Carolinians.

They’re the elected officials, lobbyists, government bureaucrats and political “power-brokers” who for too long have held our state back.

Individually, they might not seem like such bad people. Collectively, however, they form a system that has kept the state we love from reaching our full potential and from solving many of the problems we face.

The Good Ol’ Boys represent the polar opposite of good government. They "go along to get along." They’re the ones who oppose government reform, even when reform is clearly in the state’s best interest. They’re satisfied, even happy, with the way things are – the status quo – because they draw their power from the current system.

In recent years, a number of common-sense reforms have been introduced that would force a fundamental change in the way things are done in Columbia and in communities across our state… reforms to make government leaner, more responsive to citizens’ needs and more accountable to taxpayers. But the Good Ol’ Boys don’t want a government that’s lean and accountable. They view government as their own domain, and they see these reform efforts as intrusion onto their “turf.”

The politics-as-usual crowd frowns on the notion of government transparency. When I announced plans to create the state government Transparency Website, which gives specific details about state agencies’ spending, the undertaking met with resistance from lobbyists, government managers, and politicians. They were uneasy with the idea that ordinary citizens – with a few clicks of a mouse and from the convenience of their own homes -- could pull back the curtains of government and look inside.

To be sure, there are many good, well-intentioned people who enter politics or government service for the right reasons. Sadly, however, too many end up tangled in a web of special interest money, career politicians, lobbyists… the Good Ol’ Boy system. They then are no longer part of the solution. They become part of the problem. They are unwilling to challenge the system… because they've become part of it..

As a consequence, government has grown too bloated, wasteful and unresponsive to the needs of its citizens.

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, voters across the state will go to the polls to elect many new state leaders – including a new governor – and will be embarking on a new chapter in our state’s history. It will be a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, and soaring expectations.

As we begin this new chapter, we’re presented a unique opportunity to reflect on where we want to go as a state, and how we go about getting there. It stands to reason that realizing our full potential starts with changing the culture in Columbia… from a Good Ol’ Boy culture that neither seeks nor accepts change, to one that aspires to make government work better for the people and move South Carolina toward a brighter future. Beware of the Good Ol' Boys.