Tom Rice — Good Guy with a…Tragically Trump-Centric Agenda
‘I’m not afraid of clowns’: Republican defends vote to impeach Trump
Tom Rice of South Carolina says of his vote to impeach ‘I have a duty to uphold the constitution’ as he faces tough primary
As Republicans go, South Carolina’s Tom Rice isn’t the worst. And for this lifetime Democrat that almost counts as a compliment, especially after seeing the above headline where he claims ,“I have a duty to uphold the constitution”, relating his genuine courage in casting a vote for a Trump impeachment.
Ignoring party to some degree for a moment, just what sort of man does such a thing?
The area near where I live in South Carolina has a sort of festival each year with fried selling as food, vendors selling disgusting pro-Trump t-shirts, pocketknives endorsing Jesus, teenagers in $40,000 pickups paid for with multi-generational tobacco money, and even Black citizens safely enjoying the day. The local Democratic group has a presence, but this particular year, 2011 I believe, was my first experience. Some older women in the group had experienced just about one hair short of assault the prior year, and being kind of a big guy, I was there because bullies rarely stand up to an actual challenge.
There I was, attempting to look threateningly non-threatening, when this white guy (as am I) around my age walks up to me. He introduced himself and shook my hand: “I’m Tom Rice”. And he did the same with everyone in our group. At that time, having not yet been elected to public office, he wasn’t known to many, myself included. But before he left our little group it became pretty obvious he had somewhat put himself “out there” in order to introduce himself, but not remotely as a force of challenge or contention. Just a guy, alone, very politely introducing himself to the opposition.
Fast-forward about ten years to 2021. My brother became very ill, very unexpectedly and suddenly with no end-of life planning in place whatsoever. In addition he no longer had the ability to convey his wishes whatever they may have been. The problem being, he had more resources than all three of us combined, but they were accessible to him alone and as such could not be used for his care regardless of need. With my parents in their 90s, and myself 100% permanently disabled from spine damage, we were in no position to take him into our home and provide round-the-clock care. We accepted the suggestion that we needed legal help to see if a way could be found to access the funds my brother would need should he survive the genuinely gracious gift of 15 days in hospice at no cost. (He did not survive, but that’s a story for another time.)
The attorney suggested by the state legal referral service was anything but a simple country lawyer, and required $5,000 on retainer, which my father provided. Very nice offices on the top floor of a very nice building on a very nice street in a resort town. To get to those offices it was necessary, once exiting the elevator, to walk pass the office of Congressman Tom Rice.
The first time we did so was entirely without incident. We noticed the bored-looking young woman who would have been much at home on a Fox News set: young, blond, white, well dressed and protected behind a wall of thick glass. We took care of our legal matters of the day and departed to fight our other battles and demons of health care, the law, covid and age.
If I may, I’ll attempt to set the scene for our return visit to the top floor of this fancy building, and once again past the office of Congressperson Tom Rice to yet again meet with our lawyer:
My father was within weeks of being 93 and looked every day of it. Despite growing up on a farm his career was in Quality Control engineering and he has always been an accomplished mathematician. At nearly 93, it’s safe to say he was long past any desire to impress anyone, even had the situation not been as urgently non-fashion-oriented as it was. To say the least, the last thing he cared about on that day was to get dressed up. Besides, the lawyers were working for us.
I was 64, and if I’m to do much walking or standing, I need a cane for support. (As I said, disabled, but I’m no longer such a big guy.) I generally wear my hair in a ponytail nearly a foot long, because I simply no longer have the energy. On that day I was wearing jeans and a BLM hoodie. (Should I stop here, since so many readers already know how this ends? What the heck, the story is almost finished...)
Ignore the reality that this was not our first visit under very similar circumstances. I suspect the difference that day was a combination of things: looking like we didn’t belong among “cultured” folks, or in any situation involving more money than necessary to buy a Pepsi and a pack of Nabs. That, combined with a time in which the peaceful BLM protests were still an issue after the murder of George Floyd, with Fox News referring to them as “violent riots” at least a hundred times each day. As far as I know, this same young woman (who had seen us stroll past before) may have seen nothing except those three letters on my chest. (The same symbol that is my Medium avatar, from the Gerry Conway Skulls for Justice collection: https://www.customink.com/fundraising/black-lives-matter-skulls-for-justice-presented-by-gerry-conway .)
We walked the dozen or so steps toward the Rice office in order to take a left to reach our high dollar attorney. The instant we turned left and were out of sight there was a sound that I personally have never heard except in prison movies; the sound made when all the doors of an entire prison cellblock slam shut all at once, and the building literally shook a bit. Clearly the office of Congressman Tom Rice had gone on lockdown, and just as clearly because of a “serious threat” by two old men slowly walking down the hallway. But if it made her (Karen, perhaps?) feel safe it was worth our resulting concerns of police action, and the all too real possibility of being dragged away from a time-crucial legal meeting in handcuffs. Hard not to presume that yet again, white privilege saved the day. (By purest coincidence, if such a thing exists, I’m wearing my “Using my white privilege to say Black Lives Matter” t-shirt as I write this.)
Make no mistake, Tom Rice bears full responsibility for the actions of his staff in his office or elsewhere, as does every elected official in America.
I suppose I’d have to say that my experiences with Tom Rice somewhat balance out. And most assuredly, my father and I were no threat to anyone, even had there been intent on our part. Of course, we experienced only what the average Black American (who, truth be told, does not exist. People who can face such treatment daily are indeed exceptional) …what the typical Black American faces daily.
But this is not about me or my family, race, social or economic inequality or the American health care or legal systems. It’s about Tom Rice. Yes, Tom Rice did vote for Trump’s impeachment…once. Finally. But otherwise, his voting record would make Donald Trump proud; about 94% in lockstep with Trump’s heartless, racist, billionaire-friendly and very unconstitutional agenda:
Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump
Trump margin: Trump's share of the vote in the 2016 election minus Clinton's Trump score: How often a member votes in…
In fact, for whatever it may be worth, almost this entire story occurred within one block of where Trump famously mocked a disabled reporter.
In these days of desperately searching for redeeming qualities within the chest cavity of any Republican, let’s not give people like Tom Rice, Tim Scott (also one of “our” SC elected officials) and even Liz Cheney too much credit. After all, as we say in the south, “Even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then.”