You can listen to a recording of the essay while reading the text.

 

 

Mark Sanford is a former congressman and former Governor of South Carolina. He has thrown his hat in the presidential ring and will challenge President Spray Tan for the Republican nomination. He doesn’t have much of a chance. Most Republicans are going to fall in line because falling in line with this cruel chaotic Kremlin satellite office called the Trump administration, is what the GOP does.  Many states, including South Carolina, are not even going to have primaries.  Nevertheless, Mark Sanford wants to proceed.

Joe Scarborough, host of the MSNBC show Morning Joe, asked the well-mannered “Appalachian” Hiker September 9, 2019 why he was running. The first thing he said was, “I’m running because I think we need to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican.” And that statement reveals one big problem with Mark Sanford. He’s concerned about the GOP more than the nation, and more than any issue or set of issues.

However, there’s some good news for the folks tired of the White House horror show because a challenger within the party of a sitting President does lead to a weakening of that party.  Examples include Pat Buchannan, who challenged President George H. Bush in 1992. Ted Kennedy, who challenged President Carter in 1980. And Ronald Reagan, who challenged President Ford in 1976. All three sitting Presidents lost re-election. Perhaps Mark Sanford knows he will lose, but maybe he’s wanting to firmly plant himself as a leader once the Trump Titanic finally hits the iceberg.

Never Trumpers and conservative independents probably like Sanford. They don’t like Trump’s open racism, the trade agreements, the deficits, the lies, and the petty nastiness. But they also want to protect conservatism itself and continue their favorite hobbies like bashing Medicare-for-all, shaming poor people, and shaking their fingers at those lazy college graduates complaining about crushing student loan debt.  Mark Sanford also opens the door for conservatives to address climate change. Although he really doesn’t have a choice considering he’s from the low-country of South Carolina, a beautiful place that is vulnerable to destruction from storms in the coming years if we don’t act fast. Sanford said recently, “It is illogical to believe in science when it comes to the galaxy and medicine, but not when it comes to the earth.”

Given the fierce urgency we need to address climate change as a nation,  I’m glad to hear these words from the former governor. And I hope more conservatives will get with the program and support scientific facts.  But I’m going to hold my applause for Sanford because praising a Republican politician for supporting science is like praising a class valedictorian for writing his or her name correctly. It’s absurd because the government has known about climate change for 30 years. And now he wants to calmly suggest the science should be considered? Furthermore,  conservatism is not an ideology that has brought peace, hope, and prosperity to a lot of Americans.  Income inequality; voter suppression efforts targeting people of color; relentless pursuits to constrain women making choices about their bodies; inadequate support for education; ignoring gun violence; obstructing progress with no alternatives;  and aiding a corrupt system that ignores what the people really need and want are all associated with conservatism. Of course Sanford would probably not put children in cages, but Mark Sanford is still wanting to champion ideas and policies that are failing America. And that’s why Mark Sanford deserves a Bitch-Slap. Here are 5 specific reasons.

  1. When he was governor and the Hiking the Appalachian Trail story broke in 2009, the issue was not so much about the extra marital affair Mark Sanford was having with an Argentinian woman. Although it’s not a great feature of his personal life.  It’s the fact that he left work and left the country with no one knowing his whereabouts for 6 days, including his advisors and security detail.  It was egregiously irresponsible.  Interestingly, Mark Sanford was in congress during the Lewinsky scandal and he voted to impeach President Clinton saying, “I think what he did in the matter was reprehensible…I feel very comfortable with my vote.”

 

2.  When Mark Sanford finally addressed reporters upon his return to the United States after 6 days with his lover in Argentina, the emotional rambling to the press was beyond embarrassing. But then it got worse with his comparison to King David with regards to his relationship with Bathsheba. His cup truly runneth over with arrogance and entitlement. Can we have less religion in politics? I’d rather hear apologies or even a non-apologetic explanation over religious language intended to manipulate and minimize a person’s bad decisions. It’s insulting to people with no faith. And it’s insulting to people of faith. Elected officials, when in trouble, should just admit what they did wrong and leave the scriptures out of it.

 

3.   Mark Sanford calls himself an “idea” man. And he’s been recognized as being whole heartedly devoted to fiduciary restraint.  He wants bills paid, ok we get it. But fiscal restraint in the GOP and libertarian crowd means doing nothing about poverty, low wages, education,  healthcare, racism, and sexism. Being cheap does not mean one should be reverently regarded as the “grown up” in congress. If you are a parent and you give your child low quality nearly rotting food while you’re eating organic kale yogurt, fresh croissants and mimosas for breakfast,   you’re not being financially responsible. You are a poster boy for parental neglect.  Disinvestment in our public schools, our infrastructure, our healthcare leads to neglect of entire communities causing less opportunity and greater suffering. Sometimes we have to say, “We can’t afford that.” But in the GOP, that is the response to any proposal that actually helps people, or improves the daily lives of Americans.

 

4.  Mark Sanford’s wife, Jenny Sanford, took him to court after their divorce was settled because he failed to pay for his son’s college tuition (and other obligations) , a bill he agreed to pay in divorce proceedings.   For some folks, this action may seem minor. But I am a single mom and I have taken my daughter’s father to court for failing to adhere to agreements in the divorce decree. It is incredibly draining, emotionally and financially,  to deal with a former spouse that does not want to face the responsibilities of caring for children.  I don’t like Jenny Sanford’s politics at all. But she didn’t deserve having to endure a 2nd court proceeding after Mark Sanford publicly humiliated her.  Divorce proceedings are incredibly life-altering heart-wrenching experiences.  But then Jenny Sanford had to contend with the entire national media talking about her. And strangely, after the judge said Mark Sanford was in contempt, his claim of “I can’t afford that” was tossed aside, and he miraculously found the money.

5. Mark Sanford tried to refuse 700 million dollars from the federal stimulus package during the Obama years even though South Carolina at the time had the 2ndhighest unemployment rate. He called it “fiscal child abuse” because he said it would burden future generations. His view proved unpopular with so many people out of work and losing homes to foreclosure.  And It’s strange given that roughly 20% of children in his state at the time lived in poverty. The rate now for children under 6 is about 27%. Overall, about 16% of the population lives in poverty. Eventually the South Carolina Supreme court made him accept the money. And he probably knew that would happened and thus the whole thing was just a spectacle to get some name recognition beyond the state of South Carolina.

Mark Sanford is experienced,  smart, and probably enjoyable to be around. However, not grabbing random vaginas and saying, “OK science is real” are not good enough reasons to start feeling better about conservatism or conservative candidates. It is an ideology that perpetuates greed and a winner vs. losers type mindset that is toxic to a healthy democracy.   Trickle down economics has failed America and so we don’t need a more presentable, more moderate, and more competent representative from the Republican Party.  We need all Republicans out of power.