[Intersection Podcast] Episode 002 - Listening is Leading

Hosted by Bobby Rettew

Representative Gary Clary HeadshotRep. Gary Clary was first elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives House District 3 seat in 2014. After practicing law in the private sector for 17 years Rep. Clary was elected as a Circuit Judge by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1992 and re-elected in 1997. He retired in September 2002 and re-entered the private sector to work as Assistant General Counsel of Extended Stay America, a Fortune 500 hotel company.

I first met Rep. Clary in 2013 where we both served on the Fort Hill Clemson Club Board. From that point on, he asked me to just call him Gary. We are both Clemson graduates and regardless of our age gap, we share a passion for our alma mater and public policy topics like domestic violence and even issue to move our state forward like the confederate flag.

Gary’s story has many intersections, but one I find most intriguing is his passion to listen. In the world of politics, this unique trait has served him well…a trait even us storytellers could learn to adopt as part of our own cultural DNA. This trait took him door to door, listening to his constituents, town halls, and even to the state house to co-author a bill removing the confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds.

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Bobby Rettew:
Intersection is brought to you by Social Health Institute, exploring new and innovative ways for hospitals and health care organizations to develop and enhance their social media and digital marketing strategies. Learn more at socialhealthinstitute.com.

Gary Clary:
Whether you are in the court room or the general assembly, you have different ways that you try to reach people.

Bobby Rettew:
Welcome to Intersection. I’m Bobby Rettew, storyteller.

Gary Clary:
I’m Gary Clary, live here in Clemson, currently the state representative in the South Carolina House of Representatives for District 3, which consists of Clemson Central, Six Mile and Norris.

Bobby Rettew:
Rep. Gary Clary was first elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives House District 3 in 2014. After practicing law in the private sector for 17 years, Rep. Clary was elected as circuit judge by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1992 and re-elected in 1997. He retired in September 2002 and re-entered the private sector to work as assistant general counsel of Extended Stay America, a Fortune 500 hotel company. I first met Rep. Gary Clary in 2013 where we both served on the Fort Hill Clemson Club Board. From that point on, he asked me to just call him Gary. We are both Clemson graduates, and regardless of our age gap, we share a passion for our alma mater and public policy topics like domestic violence, and even issues to move our state forward, like the Confederate flag. Gary’s story has many intersections, but one I find most intriguing is his passion to listen. In the world of politics, this unique trait has served him well, a trait even us storytellers could learn to adopt as part of our own cultural DNA. This trait took him door to door, listening to his constituents, town halls, and even to the state house to co-author a bill removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds.

Bobby Rettew:
Let’s talk about knocking on doors, and that is one of the things that have fascinated me about your campaign. And you know, I’m a lover of politics. I have watched, in my short little life, presidential runs, you know, I was on the beat when I followed Senator McCain across the country, and I watched how these individuals really carried themselves out. And one of the things I loved about Senator McCain was his town halls. He loved talking to people, and I sense that about you. Talk about walking those neighborhoods and beating on doors and talking and listening to people.

Gary Clary:
You know, when I started knocking on doors in, I guess it was March of 2014, I had my palm card, you know, picture, little bit about me, what I believed in, and I’d go up and knock on a door and, not being a native of this area, and having lived in Clemson for only, the Clemson area, for only seven years, I’d knock on a door and say “Hi, I’m Gary Clary and I’m running for South Carolina House of Representatives District 3,” and they would look at me like I just stepped off a space ship.

Gary Clary:
But, you know, once you … the people were very receptive. I probably had less than a handful of bad experiences doing that, and I think that’s remarkable. You know, when I say bad experiences, you know, just one person saying I’m not gonna vote for you, I don’t believe in anything that you talk about, you’re running against a friend of mine, that kind of thing, to having the dog chase you. I went to one house outside of, between Norris and Liberty, and they had a pet goat that met me at the door. You know, just things like that.

Gary Clary:
But I think it shows the genuine goodness and welcoming nature that people around here have, that they’re willing to listen to you. But one thing that really helped during that process, you know, the first mail piece. When that mail piece hit, and I was going by houses, they were making the connection then, and things were going on in the campaign, and issues were coming up, and it would establish a conversation and an explanation and a rapport. So, you know, it was a really interesting process.

Gary Clary:
As my wife says, “He just loves to campaign.” And I do. I mean, I love to meet people. I love to hear what they have to say. I love to be able to help them if they have a problem. I think that’s the thing that I learned from Senator Thurmond, as well, his constituent service.

Bobby Rettew:
They’re our clients.

Gary Clary:
They’re your clients. They’re depending on you to navigate the morass of government, and, I think, as you say, you’re exactly right, I started this late in life. I’m certainly not going to be a career politician, it’s going to be … People say term limits and, you know, there are people who believe in term limits. I’m kind of mixed on my opinion of that. I think that the voters have the opportunity to limit your term every two years in the house, every four years in the state senate, and I think that’s the way to do it. Should there be a limit on the total number of years that serve? Probably so, because I think that, if you can bring people with fresh ideas into the arena …

Gary Clary:
And that’s not saying that people that have been there a long time don’t have ’em, because listen, my senator here is one of the most effective people in Columbia, Senator Thomas Alexander. He’s been there a long time, but let me tell you something, he’s a great partner to have in working for the people of this area. And then part of my district is also served by Senator Rex Rice from over at Easley. You know, different styles, different time of service. Rex was in the South Carolina House for about 16 years, and now he’s in the Senate. But Thomas was in the House, ran for the Senate.

Gary Clary:
So, people say, “How long are you gonna serve?” And I say, “Well, as long as the people will see fit to elect me,” but it’s, every two years is a decision. Because, you know what I mean, look at me, Bobby, I don’t buy green bananas, you know, I’m getting to that stage in life.

Gary Clary:
But, you know, I feel great. I don’t know what you’re supposed to feel like. I turned 70 in January and I don’t know what you’re supposed to feel like when you’re 70 because that’s just a number that I don’t really relate to, because I don’t know what 70’s supposed to be, because I know how I am now, and I still do all the things that I want to do, you know, work out just about every day and get some sort of exercise. I don’t run like I used to, but I still do a lot of things.

Gary Clary:
Politics is, that constituent service, I think, is what drives me. And then, on the legislative side, it is so difficult to get a significant piece of legislation passed, and it is a process.

Bobby Rettew:
Because South Carolinians are a different group of people. You know, I sit here and think about it. I don’t know if you know this, but Sarah’s great-great-grandfather, the Rev. Landrum, signed the secession, is on that marble piece in the statehouse.

Gary Clary:
Wow.

Bobby Rettew:
We look at, and as I’ve been reading his history and understanding where he comes from, South Carolina is a different, it’s a different group of people, but we’re very relational. We like shaking hands, we like talking in front of people, we like to hear and we like to share, and it’s all about comfort. It’s all the way down to the way that you grip a shake, wouldn’t you say?

Gary Clary:
Yep, yep, yep. You know, the thing about it, while we are different, a very diverse 5 million people now, there’s still that basic relational aspect that, you know, anywhere you go in South Carolina, there’s a connection. And, you know, I was fortune enough to travel this state for 10 years as a circuit judge and held court in 32 of the 46 counties, and people ask me, you know, “Well, why didn’t you hold court in the other 14 counties?” I said, well, I really didn’t want to, but it’s just the way the schedule worked. But, you know, there were some places I would rather not go.

Gary Clary:
But it still goes to show you that it’s a very small state, and a small world. You know, our son-in-law’s originally from up around the D.C. area, and when he and Adair started dating, you know, we were living in Gaffney then, and Trish and I had grown up there, and our children grew up there. We just knew everybody. That was something that was very foreign to him. But now that he has lived in South Carolina since he came to school here at Clemson, he understands. He’s a college basketball coach for the women at Lander University. He understands all those connections in South Carolina now because he recruits all over the state and the Southeast, and even nationally. But he understands and appreciates those connections, because he’ll run into somebody that knows me, or I’ll run into someone that knows him.

Gary Clary:
So, that’s the beautiful thing about our state.

Bobby Rettew:
You know, two days ago, that from this recording, we watched the most horrific thing, one of the most horrific things that happened in South Carolina’s history, and there’s a lot of ’em. There’s a lot of things that haven’t been talked about, but this one was very personal.
Bobby Rettew: When the Emanuel 9 happened, South Carolina is a state that everybody knows everybody, and so everybody got chills, because somewhere there was a connection to one of the individuals that was impacted inside that church. Talk about that from a legislator’s position. When that happened, what was it like on the side that we don’t see?

Gary Clary:
Well, you know, to take a step back, that was basically at the end of my first year in Columbia, and I remember coming home in May and telling Trish, I said, “You know, I just don’t know if politics is for me.” I’ve had a, you know, I went from that area of being in control in the court room to that big room where no one’s in control. And, I said, you know, I was floundering as to finding my place.

Gary Clary:
And when the Emanuel 9, that horrific event, occurred, we were in session, still in session, and we had gone back, you know, in extended session for vetoes and other issues, and we had adjourned on that Wednesday. It had been a long day, I got something to eat, went back to where I was staying and went to bed early. Shut my phone off.

Gary Clary:
And when I got up the next morning and opened up my phone and I saw what had happened, I mean, I was sick. You know, Senator Clementa Pinckney, I had known him when he was a page in the House, because I was a candidate for circuit judge and around. Then he went to the House and was, you know, a House member, senator, and, you know, that was personal.

Gary Clary:
That was Thursday, and I had gotten wind that my friend and colleague up in Spartanburg, now former Representative Doug Brannon, was going to introduce a bill to take down the Confederate flag from the grounds of the statehouse. So I called him, and I said, “Doug, I understand this is what you want to do,” and I said, “I want to sponsor it with you.” So he said, “Judge, you don’t need, you know,” he said, “I hear you, but you don’t need to do this. I don’t know if I’ll run for re-election in two years, but this is the kind of thing that can beat you.” And it was one of the things that did beat him two years ago.

Gary Clary:
So I said, “Well, listen, we’re gonna talk about this.” So that was on a Friday. My wife and I were sitting on our porch on Saturday afternoon and the phone rang and I answered it and it was Andy Shane, from the state newspaper. And Andy said, “Judge, you know, I want to talk to you about the Confederate flag issue.”

Gary Clary:
I said, “You know, I understand that people are very passionate about it.” I said, “Listen, I had an ancestor, my great-great-grandfather, Billy Cantrell, was killed at the battle of Manassas,” I said. “But this is divisive, and when you see what was driving Dylan Roof, you know, we need to remove this impediment from our capitol, because it’s offensive.” And I said, you know, it’s one thing to fly that flag at your house, but not at the state’s house. I said I have no problem with someone flying it their house.

Bobby Rettew:
Let’s talk about what you just said, the state’s house. What does that mean? In your terms, what does that mean? In your terms, what does the State House mean?

Gary Clary:
It’s everyone’s house. It doesn’t matter what station of life you come from, what your race is, that belongs to everyone. When I look around that big room, as I refer to it the House of Representatives, and all of its majesty, and I look out at the faces that make up that body, it’s reflective of South Carolina. It’s black, white, you name it. That is everyone’s house.

Gary Clary:
I can remember walking down the steps of the capitol toward downtown Columbia, toward that confederate monument, and with some of my African American colleagues. It was like a stake in your eye because of where it was. It had been moved in 2002 from the dome as part of a compromise to the Confederate memorial and it was just right there.

Gary Clary:
During the debate that we had about the removal of it, that was part of the issue, but anyhow Andy Shaine said, “So you’re on record as going to take it down.” I said, “Absolutely.” Doug Brown and I were the first two Republicans and that night … It was during the lead up to the Presidential primary and Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, George Bush, everyone said, “Take that flag down.”

Gary Clary:
That afternoon, it hit the wire. It was in the paper the next day. Then on Monday morning, I get up, getting ready to start my day and looked at my own and there was a message from MSNBC, a producer saying, “We’d like for you to be on MSNBC at such and such time. We’ll arrange to get you over to Greenville.” I said, “Listen, there’s no sense in going to Greenville because from where you and I are sitting, within about 50 feet, we’ve got one of the greatest broadcast studios around.” They arranged for me to be on a couple of shows there.

Gary Clary:
During that first hit that I did, word came down that Governor Haley was going to have a press conference that afternoon. As I was leaving, I got a call on my phone saying, “Can you be back here at 3:00 because Governor Haley’s going to have her press conference. We think she’s going to say take the flag down. We want to get your reaction. There were three or four of us hooked up as they do on that.

Gary Clary:
I like to think that what Doug Brannon and I and a lot of other people did was the impetus and then the galvanizing force to move this forward. It resulted in removing the flag from the State House grounds. During the debate … That flag meant a lot to a lot of people in different ways, but …

Bobby Rettew:
It happened quick.

Gary Clary:
It was very quick and I think that was the key to it because if we had not been in session and all of this had been talked about, then tried to do stuff to come back in January, I think it would have never happened.

Bobby Rettew:
You had to come back into session.

Gary Clary:
We were still in session-

Bobby Rettew:
You were in session.

Gary Clary:
We were able to amend the resolution to include the consideration of removal of the flag.

Bobby Rettew:
That’s right.

Gary Clary:
The Senate was the … They actually passed the bill very quickly. Then it came to us I think the next …

Bobby Rettew:
Evening wasn’t it?

Gary Clary:
Day. We were in session. It started and went into the night. It was really fascinating. All this is going on and it had the attention not only of the state, but the nation and the world because I was getting messages from people around the world that were watching it. During one of my speeches, I said, “The world is watching us today.”

Bobby Rettew:
Now a quick break to give a quick shout out to the network that supports Intersection, Touchpoint Media, a collection of podcasts dedicated to discussions on all things health care, including digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies, CIO and technology strategies, the challenges of the online physician, the power of the e-patient and, most importantly, the power of storytelling. To learn more, go to Touchpoint.health, that is Touchpoint.health. Let’s rejoin the show.

Bobby Rettew:
Let me ask you something. This is a two pronged … Maybe let me ask this first question. Many people say it was too quick. We reacted too quick, the politicians down in Columbia used this moment as an opportunity to leverage it to take down our flag. Obviously, you’ve heard a lot of that.

Gary Clary:
Yeah, listen, I received … Let’s talk about emails. On that issue, I received probably just shy of 2,500 emails. I had about 700 from within my district. I had I want to say 800 from around the state additional ones. Then there were 1,000 from outside of the state. The interesting thing in my district, over ninety two percent wanted to take that flag down. This was after I’d made my decision. I didn’t say, “I’m going to wait and see how many emails I get to make my decision.” I made my decision because I felt like it was the right thing to do. In our history here in South Carolina, we’ve done a lot of things, and we don’t like people telling us what to do.

Bobby Rettew:
We do it on our own time.

Gary Clary:
Yes sir. The time was right and also during the debate, I said, “Listen, if that flag had gone up in 1862 rather than 1962, I could understand the historical significance in a better way, but we all know why it went up in 1962, because of the federal government and their approach to desegregation of schools and that was the overriding issue.” I also said, “Listen, we have the Heritage Act that requires a two thirds vote of both bodies to change the name of a street that has historical significance, a monument, anything else, including that flag.”

Gary Clary:
We were able to overwhelmingly get that two thirds vote, but I said, “I’m not in favor of changing the name of any street, changing a monument, changing the name of a building. I think this is important from the standpoint that most of those other things that I’ve talked about have been there for a very long time.”

Bobby Rettew:
You stated and you were quoted in the New York Times by saying this and this is what it says, “Representative
Gary Clary, a white Republican from Pickens County reminded members the world is watching us and said that the flag should be taken down for economic development, for jobs and all things we want to do here. Mr Clary also appealed to the conscience of his fellow lawmakers quoting an old church song. ‘Red and yellow, black and white, we are all precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children in the world.'” What do you think when you hear that, when I read your quote, your conversation?

Gary Clary:
It brings everything back, a true flood of emotions. I’m very proud of the way that we handled that episode in South Carolina, that we handled the debate in the house. It was contentious. It was spirited. It was thorough. Everyone that wanted to have something to say could say it, but at the end of the day, I think we moved … I don’t think. I know we moved South Carolina forward. I still get messages from people about that, and it’s positive. Now, are some people still unhappy with the decision? Sure, but that’s politics and that’s with any difficult decision that’s made. As I tell my children, if things are easy, anyone can do it, but there are certain people at certain times that have to make very hard decisions. That was a difficult decision, there’s no question about it.

Bobby Rettew:
You told me in a recent conversation together about the day that it came down, how the day was set, we knew what the schedule was going to be. Governor Haley was going to walk out, it was going to happen. You talked about being in that room with certain family members.

Gary Clary:
The bill was passed on July 9th at about I want to say 1:30 in the morning, somewhere around in there. By the time I got home, geared back down, my wife was there and my grandson was there. By the time I wound down, I got to bed maybe 3:30, something like that. My phone woke me up about I want to say 7:30 and it was a message from one of Governor Haley’s staff wanting to know if I could call them. I called and Governor invited me to her office before the bill signing. I think there were two or three legislators that she invited down there. When I walked into the governor’s conference room, I had relatives of the Emanuel Nine in there. That was one of the …

Bobby Rettew:
Talk about walking into that room, the moment that the doors opened and you had to take in that visual. Explain that to us.

Gary Clary:
When you think what those family members had gone through over the past month … It really wasn’t even a month. It was three weeks. To introduce myself to them and to try to think what they had gone through because I went to the service that they had in Charleston. There was the House and the Senate, where we traveled together down there. Just riding through the streets of Charleston and seeing the mass of people there and the outpouring of love and affection over that great tragedy and then looking at that small group of people that had had their lives just torn apart … I went around and introduced myself to them. Then Governor Haley comes in and she walked her way around every member of the room and I think I was the last person, the way that she came in, that …

Speaker 1: [inaudible 00:31:16].
Bobby Rettew: How are you doing, sir?
Speaker 1: It’s good to see you.
Bobby Rettew: Good morning.
Speaker 1: Good morning.
Bobby Rettew: Good to see you.
Gary Clary: [Lewis Leon 00:31:22].
Bobby Rettew: Nice to meet you.
Gary Clary: On our board of trustees.
Speaker 1: For 32 years.
Gary Clary: Oh.
Speaker 1: I’m the old guy.
Gary Clary: Hey, but you know what? He’s the man. He’s the man. Good to see you, Lewis.
Speaker 1: [inaudible 00:31:34]. Sorry to interrupt.

Gary Clary:
Then she got around to me … Governor Haley and I … I had opposed her on some things during the year, but she gave me a hug. She said, “Thank you for what you did.” Then we went upstairs. She signed the bill and then the next day, the flag was taken down. It was very quick, but I think that was the key to getting … You know in Mississippi, there was legislation introduced to remove the flag [inaudible 00:32:16], change the flag or remove the flag I think it was. It went nowhere. It was really a historic time, and when you are going through a historic moment, you don’t realize it until you have the ability to reflect on it. We all knew it was something that had attracted a lot of attention, but I don’t think any of us understood the significance of it.

Bobby Rettew:
One of things that’s interesting to me as a storyteller is the fact that that story happened very fast. You have the shooting, which just ripped us apart. Then the second thing that happened that I think touched us was watching the families forgive him, which to this day still gives me chill bumps. Do you think that if it wasn’t for the forgiveness for these families, would we still be in this conversation?

Gary Clary:
I think that went so far. I think if their attitude had been different that that may have galvanized the sides just … I think that unconditional forgiveness, that love that they showed in spite of all their pain and hurt, that is such a lesson for all of us to learn.

Gary Clary:
That is such a lesson for all of us to learn. It’s just like my grandson was there. I thought it was a great lesson for him to learn to see that. He lives down in Greenwood. His senator is Floyd Nicholson, who is an African American, and a dear friend of mine.

Gary Clary:
I have a picture of Connor and Senator Nicholson from that day. Bobby, that night, when the House passed that resolution and the final approval and the African American members of that House, tears were streaming down their face. I think that was one of the more emotional moments that I can remember in my life.

Gary Clary:
I’ve seen a lot, but I think the whole key to it is I have thought about if I were black, if I had been through what these folks have been through. I mean, I don’t think there’s no way I can really relate to that because I’ve never been in that situation.

Gary Clary:
Listen, I grew up in a town and there was a produce stand, market-type thing, and they had a swinging, two café-style doors that were made, little window panes. On that doorframe, there was painted a sign, “No N allowed.” I still remember that. I grew up in a time when the Ku Klux Klan was active, burning crosses in people’s yards, having rallies. I mean, it was just a …

Gary Clary:
A local doctor’s wife was advocating de-segregating the schools and their house was bombed. That was the period of time that I grew up in so I was aware of that. Then, we lived on a corner of a street and right across the street from us was where the black neighborhood started.

Gary Clary:
I grew up with playing with African American, my friends, but we went to different schools. That was quite a time for a guy who grew up in Gaffney, South Carolina, and wound up, go through the circuitous route that I’ve had in my life to wind up at that point in time in the South Carolina legislature.

Gary Clary:
You know, the thing about that whole episode, it allowed me to figure out what I needed to be. I’ve been a Republican so long, it wasn’t cool when I was Republican. The state was dominated by the Democratic party. When I came to Clemson, I was a young Republican. We could have a meeting in a phone booth.

Gary Clary:
Then, I went to work with Senator Thurmond and he had changed parties in the ’60s. He and his team, we all built the Republican Party in this state. I figured out then what I’ve got to be is that reasonable, sensible voice of the party that I grew up with because the dynamics of my party has changed so much.

Gary Clary:
People don’t really say that they’re Republicans. They’re Conservatives. I think that there’s a … I’m conservative when it comes to fiscal matters. I believe that we need to keep our financial house in order and we have to have a balanced budget in South Carolina.

Gary Clary:
But, I also believe that you’ve got to be a Republican with a heart. There are issues, social issues that have to be addressed. I supported Governor John Kasich when he ran for President. When I first met him …

Bobby Rettew:
I love him, by the way.

Gary Clary:
I was trying to figure out who I was going to support and went to Columbia when he filled out his paperwork to be a candidate here and met with him at the South Carolina Republican headquarters, Republican Party headquarters. He said, “Tell me about yourself.” I told him, I said, “I was a judge, legislator.” He said, “You got that thing backwards,” because it’s the same way in Ohio, to a degree.

Bobby Rettew:
Right.

Gary Clary:
Even though their process is different. But, he said, “Tell me.” I told him what my view of what I was doing was. I said, “I just believe that you have to have … I’m a Republican with a heart.” He said, “You know, I like that.” He said, “You mind if I use that?” I said, “No.” He said, “But, I’m going to say, ‘I’m a Republican with a big heart.'”

Gary Clary:
What I try to do now is I’m very much in tune with protecting our environment. I believe that God gave us this beautiful place here and we’ve got to do everything we can to protect it. I’m very proud of the record that I’ve established in taking care of our environment. I believe in protecting individual rights, whether it be through our legal process, criminal court system, or our civil court system. I firmly believe that’s what we should be about.

Bobby Rettew:
The New York Times quote that I read to you earlier, you could have gotten in front of the legislature that night on the vote, for the flag to come down. You could have appealed to the logic. You could have talked about economic development. You could have talked about all the things, but you appealed to the emotion.

Bobby Rettew:
You said, “Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Why the appeal to emotion?

Gary Clary:
Well, whether you are in the courtroom or in the general assembly, you have different ways that you try to reach people. Because there was so much emotion on the side to keep the flag up, I felt like it was appropriate to flip that argument to show the other side of it too. It’s not just heritage. It’s for the people who had relatives that fought for the Confederacy.

Gary Clary:
There’s the other side of it that people were hurt as a result of all of the things that evolved from slavery and everything that was attended thereto. When I looked at my colleagues that were seated there, you’ve got a lot of different folks.

Gary Clary:
They look different. They’re different colors. They come from different nationalities, but we’re all South Carolinians. We’re all Americans, and I wanted to appeal to the greater good because we, every day, start our session with a chaplain who delivers a verse and a prayer.

Gary Clary:
I thought it was appropriate for me to think back to when I was growing up, and that was a song that we sung in Bible school, Jesus loves the little children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Gary Clary:
I just thought that was appropriate to let’s treat everybody with dignity and respect and love. We saw what the Emanuel nine families, how they exhibited forgiveness and love. Let’s start doing that in the General Assembly.

Gary Clary:
You know, there are very few moments that come along when you’re having a debate, you can hear a pin drop. Because as you know, when you come to the House, I just tell people, “It’s organized chaos.”

Bobby Rettew:
It is.

Gary Clary:
It’s like being on the floor of the stock exchange. The speaker’s up there, pounding the gavel to try to get some order. Not that way, during this debate. Everyone’s sitting there, paying attention.

Gary Clary:
Listen, there were a lot of magnificent speeches that day. Not saying that mine was … I was doing the best I could, but I felt like it was important for people from both sides of the aisle to come together because the key to that legislation was getting a clean bill.

Gary Clary:
Had we amended that bill that the Senate sent over in any way, they weren’t going to accept it. We’d had a log jam. One of the amendments late that night was to replace the flag, the Confederate flag flying outside the State House, with a South Carolina flag.

Bobby Rettew:
I remember that.

Gary Clary:
But, that pole that had carried that flag would still be there. It was my idea and the small group of Republicans that galvanized around this bill that we weren’t going to accept any changes. We owed that to our friend and colleague, Senator Pinckney, and eight other souls that died in Charleston that Wednesday night.

Gary Clary:
You know, it was a huge calculated risk to think that we could get a clean bill, but that vote on that amendment, was a 60/60 tie. There was a motion to table it. A 60/60 tie, so 120 out of 124 voted. There was some people out-of-state on mission trips, that kind of thing, because this is during the dead of summer.

Gary Clary:
So, we had to continue the debate and it was defeated by about five votes, I think. That enabled us to get the clean bill that Governor Haley signed the next afternoon. You know, I mean, there were a lot of people that were very passionate about the argument to keep it up and I respected that. I still respect it.

Gary Clary:
As I said when we started, it’s not that you or I can’t fly a Confederate flag at our house. It’s that we shouldn’t fly that flag at the people’s house, the State’s house, the State House, because if it offends anyone, then that impediment should be removed.

Gary Clary:
Now, there’s a monument there that the Daughters of the Confederacy erected in the late, I want to say it’s in the maybe early 1870s, and that monument was struck by lightning and reduced to rubble and they rebuilt it. Those are the things that tell the story and that has historical significance. You can go around those Capital grounds and see all the different monuments.

Gary Clary:
Jimmy Burns statute there. To the wars. Strom Thurmond’s there. Do these people … Were these people perfect? Absolutely not. None of us are, but what we try to do, or at least what I try to do in politics, is to do what I believe the people of my district sent me to do, and that’s to be reasonable and sensible in my approach to government.

Bobby Rettew:
Representative, judge. I’m used to just calling you Gary, but I thank you for your time.

Gary Clary:
Thank you, Bobby.

Bobby Rettew:
Thank you for joining us. We hope you enjoyed the conversation and exploration. Most importantly, there are many intersections inside the world of storytelling. Intersection is powered by Touchpoint Media and Network. Podcast dedicated to discussions on all things’ healthcare. Go to Touchpoint.health for many other podcasts exploring digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies. CIO and technology strategies, the challenges of the online physician, the power of the ePatient, and most importantly, the power of storytelling. To learn more, go to Touchpoint.health. That is Touchpoint.health. Have a good day.

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