The great state of South Carolina has been receiving a host of attention over the past few months due to the colorful actions and behavior of our governor and, recently, the outburst heard around the world by the South Carolina Second Congressional District Congressman.

There seems to be no sign that this attention will fade away. Late-night talk show hosts and casual conversations will continue to shine light on an often quiet state. There is a growing cry for the governor to resign, and the shock of the Congressman’s outburst will certainly make a great commercial for Rob Miller to use next year if he decides to make a run at the Second Congressional District seat.

What is interesting is the fact that people are seeing some elected officials for what they are. While it shouldn’t take negative attention to get people to wake up about whom they elect, one cannot blame elected officials for taking the people’s vote of confidence for granted. Some people will remain complacent and vote for who they are comfortable with — or not vote at all. Yet we wonder why some issues remain hot-topic items and problems remain unsolved.

Nevertheless, I do believe we are entering a new era in politics.

While South Carolina may be the last to get the memo, I see the average person wanting to know the views, ideas, plans, and vision of candidates. Incumbents are not as safe as they once were. Progressive-minded individuals will continue to push the envelope forward and demand direct answers rather than feel-good words.

The public is demanding substance over rhetoric and accountability to them. No longer can incumbents or those seeking office play on the ignorance of their constituencies. The electorate is changing for the better. As a result, better candidates will get elected and more qualified people will get the positions needed to make the greatest impact.

This also goes to the argument that term limits are needed at other levels of government. While many understand the argument for term limits, the greater point of view is that the voter is the ultimate one to enforce term limits by voting for another candidate. As long as voters are apathetic, the general public and future generations will remain in bondage.

Not voting at all ultimately results in more powerful political machines operating, street money being circulated, and false perceptions keeping individuals in office and measurable progress out.

I doubt that the city or county government we have here will ever have term limits. The same goes for the state legislature. With a more informed electorate, embarrassing behavior motivating people to see clearly and act, and a demand for a better quality of life for all, those holding public office must ensure they are engaging people who can help them sustain their comfortable margin, and those seeking office cannot give up as they try to make a breakthrough in a tough arena with their views, ideas, plans, and vision.

The public must examine who they want representing them. We will have a new governor come November 2010. Those in the Second Congressional District and beyond are looking to Democrat Rob Miller for better representation, civility, and leadership.

If people demonstrate by voting rather than complaining, perhaps our state can save itself from other embarrassing and laughable attention and we can begin to elect effective and, frankly better, public officials.

With less voter apathy, we have the power to transform government and put the right people in place.

For more news and commentaries, Love/Hate, the Blotter, our weekly survey, and blogs from Jack Hunter, Will Moredock, and Chris Haire, please visit the News+Opinion section at