*(Article updated below) South Carolina is a very blessed state. They have one of the most articulate, intelligent, well-versed, and principled candidates for United States Senator I have seen in a long time. After my ninety minute interview with Bill Connor, I am ready to move to South Carolina so I can vote for him. Lindsey Graham, the incumbent, is milquetoast compared to this fiery, devoted Conservative. Connor’s background is impressive but even more compelling is his grasp of a wide range of issues and his unabashed defense of conservative values based on a solid foundation of faith and service.
Bill Connor was born into a military family, attended the Citadel, and then served many years in the infantry after graduating. He was a General’s aid, the US Senior Advisor in Helmand Province, and given responsibility over multi-million dollar equipment. He served in Afghanistan and was awarded a Bronze star. He returned to civilian life, though remained in the Reserves ( Lt. Colonel, 23 years Airborne Ranger) and attended law school at the University of South Carolina, School of Law. Connor also serves as Director of the Army’s Command and General Staff College (ILE) in S.C., and a is member of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team. Connor, along with partner W. Thomas Smith Jr. founded National Defense Consultants LLC, a partnership providing clients with military analysis ranging from geostrategy to special operations; counterterrorism; ground, Naval, and air combat; military leadership and military law.
He is a thoughtful man whose words pour out of him with sincerity, intensity, and passion. When asked what his philosophy of the role of government is, he prefaced his answer by describing the foundations that shaped his personal perceptions of life. During the unsettling period of transitioning from military to civilian life, he came to faith in Jesus. His understanding of the nature of man and the need for God completely changed his worldview, including his beliefs regarding social issues and the role of government. This is not to say that he favors a theocracy, but that the prism through which he developed his philosophy of government is colored by his Christian belief system. (Incidentally, our founding fathers viewed America through a similar lens.) It is unapologetically the basis for his social conservatism.
He is quick to say the Constitution is of course supreme, but founded on the Declaration of Independence which states that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. Those rights have been bequeathed to us by God and cannot be taken away. In essence, the purpose of the Constitution is to limit any intrusion, governmental or otherwise, on those God-ordained rights. Not only does he believe the country forged by those exceptional documents was worth fighting for, but he is the only candidate for SC US Senator who actually DID fight in combat duty for his country.
The powers of Government are clearly enumerated and limited by the Constitution. Its roles are specific and clear — including national defense, protection of the citizens within, a justice/court system, and infrastructure. There is no mandated role for the Federal government in areas like charity or healthcare, or education. These issues are either left to the state, churches, or individuals. Mr. Connor states that the primary role of government is to be the “sword of protection”, defending the country within and from without. That is its single most important mandate, and in his view an area that is being eroded at an alarming pace.
The reason Mr. Connor felt compelled to enter politics is that he sees the country careening sharply off track. He believes it is a country in crisis, and time is running short.
“When I was in southern Afghanistan, I saw a microcosm of Europe and America on the battlefield. It was very interesting. Here were two groups, basically coming from the same background, but what I saw on the battlefield as the character of the American people was frankly very different from what I saw in European soldiers. The Americans were different — how they showed ingenuity, and initiative…The personality differences of people from two very different government systems were quite telling. What makes us so different on the battlefield was being lost at home. If we allow ourselves to become like Europe, we will lose who we are.”
Shortly after returning from Afghanistan in 2008, Mr. Connor leaped into the South Carolina Lieutenant Governor race. He felt there was no time to work his way up the political ladder, with what he saw as the dangerous changes in the country. Despite this being his first foray into politics, against all expectations he did well in the race making the runoff. Later, the establishment candidate who defeated him, Ken Ard, resigned in disgrace and was convicted for campaign finance violations, which had unfairly contributed to Mr. Connor’s loss.
With the political landscape continuing to degrade, Mr. Connor saw a growing lack of understanding of the original intention of the role of government, increasing lack of government restraint, and a misunderstanding of our country as a Constitutional Republic. “Unbridled democracy is not good. Democracy within constraints of the constitution protects individuals from the whims of the majority. That understanding really drives me, and fits my role of government.” The delicate system of checks and balances in the Constitution are there because our founders understood the evil and lust for power inherent in mankind. Yet, this administration seems intent on unraveling the fabric of checks and balances.
Connor points out that one of his heroes, George Washington could have been king. It was offered to him. However, he declined that role, understanding human nature, and the corruptive nature of unrestrained power. As a soldier, Washington honed the character that most military members share — a willingness to die in the service of protecting the ideals upon which this nation was founded. “Your own life comes second to the greater good,” Connor says, “Washington understood that.” Connor believes a military background instills a mindset in leaders that is perhaps very different from that which many nonmilitary politicians possess. While it is not necessarily essential to political leaders, he feels it adds a quality that can be very valuable and unique, especially as it relates to the US senate. The willingness to die for others in battle is a quality that was present in nearly all America’s founders, and speaks volumes about their character.
Mr. Connor believes our nation is in crisis. He feels Lindsey Graham has betrayed his conservative constituency, voting “to the left” until near election time, at which point he shifts “like a chameleon” and touts conservative decisions. The “disingenuous” nature of Graham’s assertions that he has stood as a staunch conservative, particularly during the Cruz filibuster/vote for cloture issue, fuels Connor’s desire to unseat him. As early as 2007, Graham voted for virtual amnesty to illegal immigrants without border control. Graham voted twice for the TARP bailout, voted for the liberal Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, voted for cloture during the Cruz filibuster, “which was essentially voting for Obamacare to move forward.” Most of all, Mr. Connor feels Graham was badly mistaken in his actions in Egypt, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in ousting Mubarak. As a member of the Committee on Armed Services, he should have known better, says Connor. Our relationship with Egypt was badly damaged, and the dangerous nature of the Muslim Brotherhood expanded.
“What Graham didn’t understand is how the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda are interlinked. They were the organizing forces behind the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in Egypt, and would take power after Mubarak was deposed. Hezbollah and Hamas come from the Muslim Brotherhood. We need to be watching the Brotherhood very carefully. They are building mosques and training followers in our own country. As the Muslim Brotherhood advances, there goes women’s rights, minority rights — that’s all out the door. All those things that liberals claim to hold so dear, those are gone under Sharia law. And that’s who Graham supported over Mubarak in Egypt.”
Mr. Connor says, “There is a fight for the soul of the Republican Party. There are groups within our party that want us to give up the social issues. What they don’t understand is government policy can change perceptions as much as people can change government. If you stand behind issues that people know in their hearts are right, people will follow. The civil rights movement is a perfect example, and the early civil rights leaders based it on Biblical truth.”
Mr. Connor speaks easily on a variety of issues. His depth of understanding and facile recall of facts is impressive.
“If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, Saudi Arabia will get a bomb, and it will have a domino effect. We will have a nuclear Middle East. Iran is a radical government, who supports Hezbollah, one of the most dangerous radical terrorist groups who would have no compunction about using nuclear weapons against Israel or us. Sanctions were working.”
Why Obama signed the recent treaty with Iran:
“The man is a narcissist. Even though our country was going through a virtual new Great Depression, he institutes Obamacare! He has a debacle at home, even losing support with the Democrats. So he makes this deal with Iran that completely realigns our political alliances… Iran over Israel, and I think it is all about his legacy. Whether good or bad, he wants to make an impact, bring about change. He will be a notable president, but notable in what way? I think history will determine it was all about his name.”
The greatest threats to the USA today:
1. The national debt is a ticking time bomb.
2. Radical Islam, the heart of which is the Muslim Brotherhood. They are a den of vipers and I don’t think Graham understands this.
3. American Unity – a distinct nation with a distinct core. Immigration will impact this, and in such a manner that we are losing what we are as a nation. We cannot let illegal immigration go unchecked.
4. Iran and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East
“The borders must be secured. Illegal immigration cannot be stopped but it can be curbed. With the military supporting border enforcement, we can cut it down to a trickle. The surveillance equipment is pretty good already. We need to be more careful of who we let in. The Boston marathon bombing was very preventable. And the last thing, quite frankly, enforce the laws. It sounds simplistic, but we have laws in place for a reason. I do immigration work in my law practice for people legally trying to enter… and the ones getting in are the ones breaking the law. It disturbs me… those who break the laws should not be rewarded. We can certainly look at guest worker programs, programs like H1B, those are programs I could see us working through, but we need to be careful with those that have knowingly broken the law. There needs to be a price paid. I cannot condone that the first act of those entering our country governed by the rule of law, is breaking the law.”
“Defund Obamacare. Return to a market based healthcare system. If we can improve the focus on preventive care, costs can go down. The issue of pre-existing conditions is a tough one, but again, while it may be expensive, we need to develop a system of pooling that group and find a market based solution to insuring them. This socialist takeover of our healthcare system is not what our country is about.”
Concern over Moral Decay in our country:
“Our laws really should encompass who and what we are. I really believe we are seeing a degradation. The moral relativism has permeated society. It shows up in a number of things. Look at our spending patterns. During JFK’s time, national defense was about 70% of our budget. Now it’s less than 30%. The money that was spent on defense in the past is now being spent on other things and a lot of it is social spending to try and shore up broken families. There are certainly people out there that through no fault of their own need help, and we should help. Instead of intact families being the norm, it is becoming the exception. Obama’s policies incentivize, in many ways, the break-up of the family. Not only is it easier to be a single parent, but his policies almost encourage it!
Communism was atheistic because it had to be — Government was God. To seize control, the government takes over the role of church, the role of family, and the family disintegrates. The more socialized you become, the more you have to become Godless to retain power. To me, Christians need to understand that small government is a Christian issue. Government is replacing the roles that traditionally belonged to the family.
Additionally contributing to the destruction of the family, distinctive manhood is being destroyed, the father is losing his traditional role as protector and provider. We used to recognize and celebrate those characteristics. In part through the radical sexual agenda, the role of fathers is being removed. It is all part of the same thing, the downward spiral of the family.”
On the Military:
“I am increasingly concerned that our political leaders do not understand or protect the “warrior ethos” in the military. There is a culture that has protected our nation for over 200 years. Our warrior culture has been morally disciplined. When you face death, you need a spiritual will. If there were any atheists on the battlefield, I didn’t see them. Yet there is an effort to remove Christianity from the military! There are attributes of our society we don’t like to face but it is important to understand that there are people out there that would kill us brutally in a heartbeat. We need young men willing to get out there and protect us. Our political leaders need to understand that. Gender integrating is not helpful and can break down that warrior culture and you are not going to draw in those young men that we need. The radical sexual movement is hurting the warrior culture. Do you know now there is more male on male sexual abuse in the military than male on female? It is a dirty little secret that those of us in the military know.
I am concerned that there is a targeting of the military types we need, the George Patton types who win battles for us. They are not being promoted, or are being fired I think in part because they may not be the cocktail party type with the same political ideology as the president. Look at promotion boards and how we select people. We need warriors who will win the nation’s wars. I am concerned we are not choosing those kinds of leaders.
The military is facing a lot of budget constraints that tell us about this administration’s priorities. Only two brigades are trained for war right now, yet somehow we found the money for ten days leave for homosexual couples to go home to get married, a perk that no one else gets. Similarly, a concerted effort is being implemented to remove Christianity from the military. Notably, look at Micky Weinstein, a radical anti-Christian brought in by the Department of Defense to make recommendations regarding the role of religion in the military. His approach was to take away things that have been there since Washington’s time, all things Christian.
The military as the “sword protector” of America is the most legitimate function of government and should be the last thing to cut, yet seems to be the first to be cut in this administration. There is even a growing strain in the Republican Party to reduce military spending. This has to be stopped, or God help us, when we need the military to do what needs to be done, it will not be able to.”
*UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, Connor has been promoted to the rank of full Colonel. Read about it here…
How can we help Bill Connor turn the tide in favor of returning to a proper constrained role for government, rebuilding the family, strengthening the military, and restoring fiscal conservatism?
“Donate! Graham has several million dollars. Remember, I am not running just for this state, but for Senator of the United States. Every republican conservative helps the conservative cause.”
Connor knows the battle is daunting, but remains hopeful. In the words of another of his heroes, Winston Churchill, he is encouraged to, “Never give up. Never, never give up.”
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