A battle is under way in America to define, or perhaps redefine, our country for generations to come. Fueling this battle are the values of two political parties, Democrats and Republicans, and South Carolina’s First Congressional District is now ground zero. Although Mark Sanford seems to enjoy the advantage of numbers in this “11-point-Republican-district,” the GOP is encountering a problem: the inability to define his opponent. While failing to do so may deliver Mrs. Colbert Busch the seat vacated by Tim Scott, this would also constitute a most tragic development for our democracy — for which, as James Madison observed, transparency is a cornerstone.

For voters who don’t know her, Mrs. Colbert Busch’s aversion to political debates — exercises that offer insights of candidates’ values and political agendas — indicates she’s aware her platform is incompatible with our interests. Not only does it appear she’s trying to minimize awareness of her positions on issues of concern to us, her avoidance of public political discourse signifies a most worrisome disdain for transparency. Worrisome, that is, for voters appalled by the disinterest in transparency we see in Washington.

Just what does her agenda entail?

Setting aside imprecise, populist rhetoric about job creation, the best available insight is party affiliation.

What may we infer from this?

Her political views likely vary greatly from those of most District 1 voters. Next, Mrs. Colbert Busch, who has hardly been specific when handling questions about Obamacare, will likely try to undermine efforts to repeal it. Further, regardless of thus-far-unqualified portrayals of her as a “moderate,” her agenda is sure to contrast that of our former congressman.

How may we identify this contrast?

Reviewing Sen. Scott’s website is a good start. There we find he has “taken a strong stance in support of right-to-work states, and has been an outspoken critic of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision to sue Boeing over expanding in right-to-work South Carolina.” Conversely, Mrs. Colbert Busch has welcomed $30,000 in political contributions from labor unions.

Why should this concern voters? Not because of Boeing’s growing presence here. Rather, because of the importance of seaports to our economy. Not to mention unions’ reliance on government interference in our markets.

For unions, our seaports represent natural places to establish beachheads in South Carolina. Unlike most U.S. ports, most of our port labor isn’t unionized. Given such, unions will support a candidate who’s willing to change how our ports conduct business. And unlike most District 1 voters, unions want the government to play a heavy hand in our markets — hence their work lobbying the NLRB to sue Boeing.

By virtue of Mrs. Colbert Busch’s party affiliation, we may infer she’ll do little to limit not just the federal government’s involvement in our markets, but also our lives. Indeed, we may infer she will support Democrats’ efforts to grow Americans’ dependence on the federal government, fundamentally transforming our nation in the process.

In 2009, Barack Obama introduced a transformative policy agenda. Its advancement entailed signing into law acts like Obamacare — without even accommodating rigorous review of its contents by legislators. Paired with his overuse of executive orders, this reveals an authoritarian’s contempt for the spirit of the document drafted by our Founding Fathers to define how business should be conducted in Washington: Transparently, and with accountability to stakeholders.

Now, Barack Obama wants to secure his political legacy. To do so, he needs to secure a Democratic majority in the House; in turn, making it easier for a Democrat to succeed him — or at least making it harder for Republicans to chart a new course for our ship of state.

Even without a clear picture of her agenda, one can reasonably deduce that a vote for Mrs. Colbert Busch is a vote for the legacy Barack Obama is crafting with help from Democrats in Congress. Voters concerned about how this is being achieved — by scaling back transparency in the legislative process — should not squander this opportunity to send them an important message on May 7th. Yet, a vote for a candidate who has been anything but candid with us is a tacit approval of their tactics. Moreover, it’s a vote for a future that is quite different than that envisioned by the staunchest advocates for transparent and limited government ever known to the world, America’s Founding Fathers.

Mount Pleasant resident Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, USMC (Ret.) is a recipient of the Medal of Honor. Michael Smith advises members of Congress on national security issues.