Rep. Boyd Brown, aged 25, is retiring from the Legislature after serving two terms. He was a forceful advocate for change and reform, honored as a “Rising Star’ by the SCND and a speaker at our events. This is an excerpt of his farewell address delivered June 7, 2012.
Creating a better South Carolina is why I ran for office in the first place. It’s why I came here and refused to sit on the back row and stay silent. I chose to come to Columbia and speak up with a strong voice. I chose to come here and fight for what I believe in. Ladies and gentlemen, South Carolina has all the tools to be among the best states in the nation. I believe that and I know you do too. But unfortunately, it is lacking in two critical areas: Leadership and vision.
The last two executive branch administrations have been total failures. Too frequently, our elected officials have embarrassed us. Too often, our proud state has made us a national laughingstock. And I know why. It’s because we keep electing the same kind of people. And that’s why we are stuck with the same results.
Bobby Kennedy once reminded his audience of a Chinese curse, one that says “May you live in interesting times.” Like it or not, as Senator Kennedy reminded those students, we do live in interesting times. They are times of rapid change and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of mankind than any other time in history. When the story of our time is chronicled, I believe these years in which we are living will serve as a flashpoint.
Change is happening. Ladies and Gentlemen, the steady march of modernity has reached a blistering sprint. Will our state be there to join in the race to achieve the future? Or will fear of change, or worse, personal ambition and greed hinder this body?
We, the legislative branch of government, must answer the call. It is our duty. The burden rests on our shoulders. With each passing day, we risk losing ground to those prepared to accept the challenges of the 21st Century. We must break out of our limited scope philosophies to prepare for progress.
Everyone here will ultimately be judged, not by longevity in office, but on the ability to meet the challenges of his time to build a better South Carolina. Our time is moving faster… and faster our challenges are increasingly more complex.
“There is,” said an Italian philosopher, “nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” This is the measure of the task of leadership, but also of my generation. We must enter and maneuver this new world competing not only against Georgia and North Carolina, but the entire world.
Let me tell you a little bit about my generation which I speak of today, and have risen on behalf of for the past four years.
My generation acknowledges science and we want to protect our planet. We understand the importance of our natural heritage in this state, and what responsibilities come with that heritage. Visit the ACE Basin, and then try to convince me we don’t have an obligation to protect our natural resources.
My generation doesn’t think you improve the lives of the working South Carolinian by lowering the taxes of the corporations that fund your political endeavors, you do so by finding ways to lower the personal income tax and improve their lot in life.
My generation finds it disgraceful to confine a child born to a broken home in Winnsboro or Kingstree, Allendale or Dillon to a life without opportunity. Instead, we want the classroom to be a place where that child can escape from the shadows of despair, and find refuge in an entirely new world, rich with opportunity.
My generation understands you don’t fix roads by naming them after Andre Bauer and other politicians, and you don’t fund infrastructure by changing the composition of the DOT Board; President Clinton reminded us, “There is no evidence that we can succeed in this century with an antigovernment strategy, with a philosophy grounded in ‘You’re on your own’ rather than ‘We’re all in this together.” We must invest in better roads, stronger bridges and updated water and sewer lines.
My generation does not hate gay people. We don’t hate any people, we simply believe all Americans, here in this state and across our country, should be able to live their lives as they see fit.
My generation is not caught up in black versus white. We must break out of this out-dated prism of looking at one another through the spectacles of the past. We want to celebrate equality and opportunity in South Carolina, not the bigotry that has defined our state for too long.
This is my generation…
My generation does not fear the future. My generation is not afraid of progress; we’re not afraid of globalism and an interdependent world. My generation, we welcome change.
And, ladies and gentlemen, as a word of caution to you, my generation is sprinting this way.
In closing, as we go our separate ways, you in your direction, me in my own, and hopefully the Governor goes off under indictment from the Grand Jury, I urge you to remember this: that South Carolina isn’t just a state; at its core, it’s an idea. The idea that tomorrow is a better day for every South Carolinian, no matter their background, and that idea is embodied in our state motto, “Dum Spiro Spero,” while I breathe, I hope.
I hope you take my words here today to heart, and I hope God continues to bless you and the great State of South Carolina.