First Term Congresswoman Not Afraid To Stand Up For What Is Right & Speak Her Mind
By: Jeff Walker
For more than a quarter century Nancy Mace has been fighting tough battles, and often blazing trails. While she was not the first to take on the all male Citadel institution, she did become the first woman to graduate (1999) South Carolina’s military college. Mace would continue her education earning a master’s degree from the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
As the 21st century was unfolding Mace authored a book about her time at the Citadel appropriately title, ‘In the Company of Men: A Woman at The Citadel’, a chronicle the late Pat Conroy (a former cadet) highly endorsed. In 2008 she opened her own consulting business. However by the second decade of the 21st century Mace’s interests turned towards politics. She was unsuccessful in her attempt to secure the bid for United States Senate in 2014, but her high profile helped Mace campaign for then presidential hopeful Donald Trump in 2016.
Riding the red wave Mace was able to secure South Carolina State House District 99 in a special election in 2017, thus beginning her political career, which was further solidified on Nov 3rd 2020, when she took back the US Congressional seat that Joe Cunningham won in 2018.
U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Mace has spent the better part of 11 months representing her district in Washington D.C. Admittedly it’s not been the smoothest ride since she’s arrived in Washington DC in early January. Mace quickly learned big time politics has its share of pros and cons.
“The best thing about being in congress is serving the people in my district. It’s a huge responsibility, and one I don’t take for granted. They’ve elected me to do job, and to represent their interests, and I want to do that to the best of my capability.”
When answering to her constituents what is the biggest challenge overall. “It’s twofold. Fiscal responsibility. Are we spending the taxpayers money wisely, and am I addressing the issues that impact them the most.”
On the flip side of the coin. “The worst thing about working in congress is the backlash you receive for trying to do what’s right. Also all the divisiveness you get. Hyper-partisanship is a big issue. In D.C. we need to learn how to work together and address issues that we all care about. I did it when I worked in Columbia as a lawmaker. In just 11 months I’m proud that I’ve already seen success passing bipartisan bills in congress.”
Among legislation Mace has introduced since being in office include a Bill to Extend Federal Recognition to the Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe of South Carolina. “As we celebrate National Native American Heritage Month (November), I’m introducing legislation to federally recognize a distinguished group of indigenous people in our district.”
Her most recent legislation proposal is the States Reform Act, allowing states to have more control over legalizing varied uses of cannabis. “Only 3 states lack some form of legal cannabis. My home state of South Carolina permits CBD, Florida allows medical marijuana, California and others have full recreational use, for example. Every state is different. Cannabis reform at the federal level must take all of this into account. And it’s past time federal law codifies this reality.”
Why is she so adamant about the States Reform Act. “This bill supports veterans, law enforcement, farmers, businesses, those with serious illnesses, and it is good for criminal justice reform. Furthermore, a super-majority of Americans support an end to cannabis prohibition, which is why only 3 states in the country have no cannabis reform at all.” The S.C. Compassionate Care Alliance and Concerned Veterans for America are
among several groups who have endorsed Mace’s State Reform Act.
Mace admits a few of the best words that describe who she is are, “Honesty, caring, hard-working, and a mom. All of who I am came from my parents and my time at The Citadel.”
Perhaps the toughest time she’s faced since becoming a congresswoman is from her detractors. “I’ve had my car keyed, and had my house spray painted an expletive I’d rather not repeat. My kids will send me TikTok videos of all that’s happening. I feel bad for them, because I don’t want to put them in the middle of all of this.”
But they (her kids) remain supportive. “They understand what I’m doing, and I’m proud of that. I feel I’ve raised them right. They were among the few early on who said, you must run for this office.” Mace has one child in high school and another in middle school. “I do what I do for their future. What parent doesn’t want a better America for their kids.”
What is a day in the life of a first term congresswoman. “It’s a whirlwind. 14, 15, 16 hours days are normal for me. I get up, I might walk my puppy, and just try to clear my head and prepare myself for what the day has to unfold. I’ll meet with my staff and fulfill several commitments. It’s non-stop, but I knew that when I ran, and hopefully what I do everyday has purpose.”
She says that with a busy daily calendar she often has to fit in the most basic everyday functions. “I’ll schedule a little me time, and that might even be a few minutes of downtime or as simple as eating. That might sound crazy but it’s hectic up in DC.”
Some on her staff find it hard to believe Mace finds time to re-boot on a day to day basis. “I am constantly on the go in D.C, and when I’m home I’m out meeting the people, or speaking at an event. Sunday I try to relax. I go to church and take my kids out to breakfast.” Mace regularly attends Sea Coast Church in Mount Pleasant.
As many have discovered Mace is not afraid to speak out or go against her own party. She voted recently to hold Trump advisor Steve Bannon in contempt, as well as the actions of the former President for all that unfolded on the US Capitol earlier this year and Trump’s disdain for the election results. “I’m not pointing fingers but those responsible need to be held accountable for what took place on January 6th.”
She supports the power to subpoena and believes it’s a bi-partisan issue, a stand she’s received praise for across the aisle. “I basically stand up for what I believe is right, and most of the people back here in the district understand where I’m coming from.” She does have a principle she routinely puts into practice. “I’m concerned about the issues that effect everyone in my district. I want to serve those who voted for me, and for those who didn’t. I represent everyone in my district.”
Mace didn’t have much love for the recent Infrastructure Bill that passed the congress. She voted against it. “I’m not against spending money for infrastructure, repairing roads and bridges, those issues need to be addressed and create good paying jobs, but that is a small fraction of what is in the bill.” Her challenge now that the bill has been adopted. “If we’re going to do infrastructure, then let’s actually build something.”
Like we’ve seen all to often, bills get loaded down with pork, including bacon and ham to which Mace jokingly replies. “Every cut of the pig they can add into a bill they will. Most people have no idea what goes in a bill. They call it infrastructure and leave out all the other expenditures. The American public have no idea what is being funded. It’s not fiscal accountability, and that is the reason I didn’t support it.”
Most people know Mace’s past, dropping out of high school, working as a waitress at a Waffle House, before she had an epiphany and became the first woman to graduate from The Citadel. “I definitely took a different path than most.” But what prompted her to put her foot into the political pool. “I have to say Tim Scott was the most influential in that decision. His passion and his commitment in serving the people of South Carolina is commendable.”
How does Mace feel about fellow politicians from South Carolina. Regarding Scott, “He’s a strong Christian and you see it in how he carries himself.” As to Nikki Haley. “She’s a strong leader. Very passionate and governs with conviction. A great female role model.” How does Mace feel about Governor McMaster. “He’s doing a good job. He cares about the people of South Carolina and has their best interest in mind.”
What about politicians who aren’t a member of the GOP. Mace has kind words for veteran South Carolina congressman James Clyburn. “He’s a civil rights leader. I commend him for that. He’s equally passionate about the things he fights for. I’ve actually leaned on him since I’ve been in Washington, and he’s been supportive. We may not agree on every issue, but like me he has the interests of South Carolina in mind.”
While Mace is a conservative and a card carrying member of the republican party she is open minded. She’s challenged her party on occasion. Does she vote with her heart or with her conscience? “Hopefully I vote with both.” She is first and foremost a constitutionalist. “Absolutely. I believe in the constitution and the freedoms it set forth. Sadly we’ve lost our way when it comes to abiding by the constitution.”
Although she worked for the Trump campaign in 2016 and voted for him in 2020, she says she hasn’t always seen eye to eye with him. Whether or not Trump will run in 2024 and be the GOP nominee remains up in the air, but Mace is clear on one thing. “I will support whoever the party backs.”
She hopes with all that is unfolding since Biden took office, the House and Senate will regain seats in 2022. “It’s looking that way.” What is the biggest concern she says America faces in 2021. “It’s several things. Inflation, the economy, and our nation’s security. When it costs $60 or $80 to fill up your gas tank people begin to notice.”
Mace agrees voters often vote concerning their pocketbooks and wallets. “It’s bad enough when they can’t find items they need on the shelves, but the cost of food and basic everyday needs is going up way to quickly, and that effects democrats as well as republicans.”
Surprisingly, Mace still drives a ten year old SUV. “When I replace a vehicle I typically buy cars that are five years old. I spend for myself the same way I consider spending the taxpayers money. I occasionally shop at thrift stores, and Target. I’m a mom and hopefully I spend my money wisely. I guess you could say I’m frugal, but like the people I serve I am careful about finances. And in today’s economy we all need to be.”
Mace is incensed when she hears about illegal immigrants possibly getting nearly half a million dollars per child for being separated at the border. “The mere fact that our military families receive much less than that when a loved one loses their life defending our nation, and than we hear about situations like this. It’s disheartening.”
Understandably Mace has her critics, but like Tim Scott and others in her party she’s not afraid to speak her mind. “Not everyone is going to agree with me or like what I do. Hopefully I’m doing what the voters elected me to do. I learned core values from my family and at The Citadel. Honor and integrity are important to me.”
She feels strong about civility in this country as well. She agrees we need to treat everyone fairly. “Everyone should be afforded basic civil rights in this country. If you look back throughout history, it’s easy to see America has always come to the rescue or provided aid to other countries. The United States has always been a very humanitarian nation, and that’s a good thing. But we have real issues here we need to address, like homelessness, including homeless veterans.”
Mace who will turn 44 on December 4th admits travelling back and forth to D.C. takes its toll, and she has to juggle work and family time. “I do my best to come home on weekends and for longer periods. I’m a mom and I want to spend time with my kids. But I do realize what I signed up for when I ran for this office. With the title comes responsibility.”
To keep up on all Congresswoman Nancy Mace is doing visit her website at https://mace.house.gov/
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