In a previous post I made a short case for Mark Sanford as a realistic and solid candidate for the presidency in 2012. Obviously, today’s press conference and stunning revelation as to Sanford’s love affair with a woman named Maria have dampened if not outright extinguished he chances for such a post, at least on the Republican ticket. As a supporter of Sanford’s principles and character I am thoroughly let down by the Governor’s actions but I condenm those that take such great pleasure in the collapse of his family and career. (Click here for an article describing this sick trend.) He has political principles we need right now and in the future. This isn’t funny. We need this libertarian-leaning conservative point of view at the state and national level or the Republicans will end up with a Republicrat candidate for the future. I was really hoping Sanford was the one who might take on the One, but I might have been wrong.
Before the press conference I defended Sanford against the allegations (at that point) by my liberal-leaning colleague that Sanford was up to no good in Argentina. “There is no proof that you’re right,” I stated boldly. “Are we so cynical that we convict people without evidence?” I questioned. Well today, my co-worker is vindicated in his cynical, negative assumptions about human nature and Republicans in general and I am looking quite idiotic and gullible. I guess I just wanted Sanford to be different, a possible candidate that I could finally, after almost a decade of Neocons and other Evangelical Republicans pretending to be small government conservatives, have a candidate to be proud of, donate to or slap a bumper sticker on my car for; one that stood for limited government and fiscal responsibility. I might have been wrong. (For how wrong others felt they have been click here.)
I was hoping that Sanford, with his quirky mannerisms and his independent streak could do what Jefferson had done–limit the power and perception of power of the executive and begin the ball rolling toward a restoration of constitutional balance of power and other related measures. Sanford understands and is committed to the Constitution, he understands that Congress should not be the play thing of the President or that the Judiciary cannot make laws. I had hoped that Sanford might be the one who would answer the door of the White House in his proverbial slippers and robe like Jefferson had done (talk about quirky) to show that the executive is not privileged but accountable to the people.
To draw the Jeffersonian parallels of this tragedy a little further, in the end Sanford was done in by a Maria much like Jefferson might have been. But where Sanford met his Maria in Argentina, Jefferson met his in France. Fortunately for Jefferson, his affair did not make the front page. As American Heritage writes, “This love affair could easily have changed Jefferson’s life so drastically that the American public would never have accepted him as a candidate for President of the United States.” (Here’s the article)
Strangely, like Jefferson, Sanford wrote gushing love letters to his married mistress that sound odd and cheesy to modern ears but eerily similar to something Jefferson might write, albeit not quite so erudite and learned. In an email Sanford confessed, “I feel a little vulnerable because this is ground I have never certainly never covered before – so if you have pearls of wisdom on how we figure all this out please let me know… In the meantime please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul.” This sounds vaguely familiar to Jefferson’s confessed love for Maria Cosway and his head and heart metaphors. But in the end, Sanford like Jefferson can say that “my poor heart has been duped by the fondness of its wishes.”
So as Sanford repeated so often in his press conference, “where do we go from here?” From this Appalachian-Argentina episode I have three take away points. First, never trust a man but trust in principles. Conservatives who like Sanford should not abandon the principles he stood for. I truly believe they are what we need. Second, make up your mind that there are certain things you will never do before you ever get close to those situations. Lastly, and this is related to the first point, I can’t rely on someone else to do my thinking or be my voice. I must do the hard intellectual lifting and get into the trenches myself if I want to help change things.
I really wanted Mark Sanford to be the Jefferson of limited government in 2012. He now falls into a category that some of our best and most influential statesmen have occupied, from Alexander Hamilton and Jefferson himself to FDR. Maybe I am so desperate for a true conservative leader that I put too much hope in one man, which is always wrong. Most say he is ruined politically but who knows, I for one have not given up on his principles if others have given up on him.