The Comeback Ends

13 June 2018


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Sanford Loses Primary Challenge in South Carolina


Mark Sanford had the political comeback of the decade, but last night, he lost his party's nomination to represent the people of South Carolina's First Congressional District. The former governor resigned the state's top job after being caught having an affair in Argentina while telling everyone he was hiking the Appalachia Trail. He apologized and managed to convince the GOP voters to give him another chance, and he won a seat in Congress. He lost his attempt at re-election to a virulent Trumpist, and the president himself tweeted late yesterday that Mr. Sanford was a problem for him. This journal believes Mr. Sanford should have lost, but at the same time, he should never have been in Congress anyway.

One has a great deal of sympathy for people in love. It does skew one's reason, and it certainly is the foundation of a good marriage. Mr. Sanford fell in love with a woman who wasn't his wife, and that does happen.

Where Mr. Sanford disqualified himself from public office was in the deceit and in the unwillingness to simply tell people the hard truths. It probably was not easy confront Mrs. Sanford and his children, but by foisting a charade on the electorate, by lying about his activities, he made their discomfort public. He exercised bad judgment and showed himself to be a moral coward. For that reason, he should not have been a congressman.

The woman who defeated him is a thoroughly odious member of the cult of personality currently in control of the Republican Party. She nailed her colors to the Trump mast early and made criticism of Mr. Sanford's disagreements with the president a cornerstone of her campaign. At her victory party she stated, "We are the party of Donald J. Trump." In a debate earlier this month, she took Mr. Sanford to task for "bashing our captain, President Trump."

"Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA [Make America Great Again]," Mr. Trump tweeted on his way back from Singapore. "He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love."

South Carolina is a conservative state, and like most states, it is gerrymandered to the limit of the law. While governor, Mr. Sanford lied to every voter in the state about his whereabouts and left the state without a chief executive while he was out of the country. Dereliction of duty and abandoning one's post is serious even in civilian life. Yet, he won his congressional race in 2016 with 58.6% of the vote, beating Democrat Dmitri Cherny by just under 22%. One would be surprised if Ms. Arrington's general election total wound up closer to 50% than 60% of the ballots cast.

The primary illustrates the condition of the Republican Party. There are two distinct factions, one led by Mr. Trump and the other led by no one at all. It's the national populists against the conservative establishment. Ms. Arrington was not entirely accurate when she said it was the party of Mr. Trump, but it is becoming harder and harder to argue against her assertion.

That raises the question of what happens to the party after Mr. Trump, who will be out of office no later than January 21, 2025. Will the establishment merge with the upstarts as happened after Ronald Reagan led the Goldwater crew to victory? Or will the establishment become an irrelevance, like Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose effort, or the Whigs? Mr. Trump's problem is that he has no guiding philosophy upon which to build a legacy. He has only anger, arrogance and a sense of grievance. It is hard to see how that outlives him.

© Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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