Mark Sanford has lost his re-election. I actually supported Sanford when he ran for Congress after his scandal. He had been very public about his failings, publicly apologized, and I was fine with offering both forgiveness and support for his campaign.
He did not disappoint in Congress. He routinely voted against the GOP on issues of limited government, liberty, and spending. After Donald Trump’s election, Sanford carried on as he had. He did not change. A critic of both George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s profligate spending, Sanford also criticized Donald Trump’s big spending policies and protectionism. Sanford still voted with Donald Trump 79% of the time.
That was not enough, however.
Sanford has been thrown out of office by the voters of South Carolina. It is all the more remarkable because his district, just two years ago, rejected Donald Trump in the GOP primary and his opponent, just two years ago, also opposed Donald Trump in the primary.
But there is now a price to be paid for opposing President Trump in the GOP and Sanford has paid that price by standing on principle. His defeat was cheered on by Republicans who have been longtime Sanford fans due to his principled stand against the GOP’s constant feeding of the Leviathan. But they would not abide starving Trump’s Leviathan.
I’m not sure where conservatives go. Sanford, portrayed as a moderate merely for being vocal against the President, was actually one of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives. Sanford did not change, his party did. And it changed in a way that is not conservative. If anything, the party has moved away from consistent principle to the politics of the here and now in a cult of personality.
Increasingly, it seems there is no home anymore within the GOP for a principled stand against the Leviathan.