There’s nothing ‘right-wing’ about Mark Sanford

Just saw this fund-raising appeal from the Democrats:

ROLL CALL: Conservatives Buy Airtime for Mark Sanford

If you think Elizabeth Colbert Busch has a clear path to victory on Tuesday, think again.

She’s neck and neck with Mark Sanford — 46-46. And now, right-wing groups are throwing everything they’ve got at keeping this seat in Republican hands.

Brad — We can’t allow Elizabeth to be pummeled like this if we want to win on Tuesday.

There are only 4 days left. Will you dig deep for Elizabeth and Democrats in tough districts like hers?…

… and want to quibble with the wording.

Yeah, I get why the DCCC would want to say “right-wing.” Because it pushes their peeps’ buttons.

But Sanford isn’t “right-wing;” nor are those who tend to flock to his banner. He is libertarian, a classical liberal, which is why, even as his party establishment deserts him, he is backed by the likes of Ron and Rand Paul.

I looked up the group that Roll Call said was backing Sanford. It’s called “Independent Women Voice.” (Note that the Dems did NOT mention the name of the organization, because it might have provoked a positive response in their target audience, which of course is why the group calls itself that.) The organization describes itself this way:

IWV is dedicated to promoting limited government, free markets, and personal responsibility

Note that there’s no mention of traditional values, or a strong defense, or any of the other traits associated with conservatism, much less the “right wing” — only the libertarian values are mentioned.

61 thoughts on “There’s nothing ‘right-wing’ about Mark Sanford

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Some of you may think this is an excessively picky, pedantic point.

    But it speaks to what I truly hate about political parties — the way they trivialize, oversimplify and polarize in order to conquer. They warp the national political conversation in order to achieve their goals, and it gets to where their stupid definitions dominate (including in news coverage), and as a people we lose the vocabulary necessary for critical thinking about the real issues that face us in the world.

    They have to make their opponents a monolith, so that they can play to their bases’ emotions rather than intellect. It’s disgusting.

    1. bud

      Don’t blame the parties, blame the damn voters. As long as they follow along like a pack of sheep this will continue. That’s why the district 1 election is so very interesting. Clearly Mark Sanford has totally discredited himself as a legitimate candidate. Yet here he is on the brink of pulling off the political comeback of all time. Why? The voters simply can’t get past the magnetic attraction attached to the term “conservative Republican”. And as long as these tactics work the parties will continue to employ them. While it is true the Democrats do this stuff the Republicans have taken it to a level of religious faith. I just don’t think Democrats tend to be as gullible.

      1. Doug Ross

        Uh, bud, Democrats have had the Presidency for what will be 16 of 24 years and control of one or both houses of Congress for pretty much that whole period. They’re just as good at getting the suckers to the polls as Republicans.

        1. bud

          That’s because Democrats are somewhat sensible. Fact is the Republicans are so creepy it shouldn’t even be close.

          1. Doug Ross

            So winning elections = sensible views? Then how do you explain South Carolina?
            There’s as many Democrat creeps as Republican.

    1. Doug Ross

      @Bryan – Thanks for that link. Why is Friedman’s philosophy so hard for both Republicans and Democrats to accept? Democrats wants to spend other people’s money and Republicans want to allow corporations to take other people’s money. That’s really all that politics is about – controlling the money.

        1. Doug Ross


          I want you to have as much money as you can earn. You want me to have as much as I can earn minus whatever YOU think is proper to give to other people. And if I earn more than you then that means I owe those other people more than you do.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author


            You mean, if I stumble across a pirate’s treasure buried in my backyard, you don’t want me to have it?

            Dang. There goes my whole financial plan…

          2. bud

            I would maintain that the Democrats, (or liberals really, the two are not the same), don’t want to just “spend other people’s money”. (how offputting) We just want government to work for ALL the people, not just the plutocrats. We want a fair and equitable tax structure, regulatory environment and sensible safety net to ensure the country operates efficiently and equitably. We believe that not only does that help keep people safe and healthy but it helps everyone financially, even the wealthy in the long run.

        2. Steven Davis II

          So Hollywood, professional sports stars, college football coaches, and rap “singers” are all Libertarians?

      1. Scout

        And what do libertarians advocate to stop corporations from tending towards taking other people’s money (which I think is the way they tend when left to themselves). Would the libertarian view not be to leave them to themselves? (i.e. limited government).

        1. Doug Ross

          Minimizing the cozy relationship between corporations and government would be a good start. It’s a quid pro quo world and when one side can make laws to protect the competitive advantage of another, it’s bad news for the rest of us.

          Free markets are the best solution.

          1. Mark Stewart

            The free market exists because of the rule of law (government). Without government free markets would not be free.

            Because government makes the laws, everyone – the body corporate included – tends to want to cozy up to it. That is a rational response, Doug.

            And Scout, everyone has a tendency toward “taking” other people’s money. That is what makes an economy.

            In politics and in capitalism, as in human existence, there are only deeply flawed entities. There is no utopian reality of an Eden or of the invisible hand or of pure republican democracy. What we have is what we should strive for: To do our best, to play fair and to compete hard.

          2. Doug Ross

            “To do our best, to play fair and to compete hard.”

            Which of those three does the government strive for (nevermind achieve)?

          3. Mark Stewart

            In the ideal, all three. Kind of the point of the Constitution, don’t you think?

            Of course the leap from the US Constition to the SC state constitution reveals just how far a legislative body can go toward making a mockery of those ideals.

            Dum spiro spero…

  2. bud

    … he is backed by the likes of Ron and Rand Paul.

    “The likes of”? Really, isn’t that kind of insulting? How about “The likes of Lindsey Graham”?

    1. Doug Ross


      Lindsey just does it for his own benefit. The Pauls do it because they have an actual philosophy.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          That said, I’ll quickly grant that the Pauls have a more straightforward, consistent, understandable philosophy.

          But see, I consider that to be a bad thing. If you have an easy-to-describe ideology, then you are usually too rigid and doctrinaire for me to want you making real-world decisions in public office.

          1. Doug Ross

            Wouldn’t you have an “easy to describe” philosophy as well?

            “More control over individuals through large organizations”.

            Big government, big military, big church.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            No, I do not. Although it looks that way from your perspective, I suppose. Unless you’re being facetious, which I certainly hope you are.

            For instance, I’m certainly against “Big Party.” As you know, I object strenuously to individuals’ surrendering their ability to think to parties and ideologies, buying their opinions off the shelf as a package. To me, that is an affront to the individual human mind. I particularly object to those mobs trying to enforce orthodoxy when their members go “astray.” The sort of mentality that caused certain fringe Republicans (and that the irony about these people, that they are not representative Republicans themselves) to come up with the insult “RINO.” Which of course to me is not an insult. I like Republicans who are so in name only, and Democrats who are the same. But these people intend it as an insult, and their malice is palpable and deeply offensive.

            In the political realm, that in which we act as citizens, the freedom of conscience — the freedom to make up one’s mind in each situation, to evaluate each argument on its merits regardless of the source — is sacred. And parties do everything they can to suppress and crowd out that essential freedom.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          The one area in which the Pauls seem inconsistent to me is in their opposition to abortion.

          That’s not the libertarian approach at all. Yeah, I realize the right to life is the ultimate right, but it’s not the position we associate with libertarianism.

          Of course, I’m glad they’re opposed to abortion, and not only because I applaud the inconsistency.

        3. Brad Warthen Post author

          When pressed to describe our political philosophy on The State’s editorial board, I called it “pragmatic conservatism.”

          Which had the virtue of being wonderfully vague and flexible. 🙂

          But it had an actual meaning to me. And we pragmatic conservatives can see the same quality in others.

          Lindsey Graham is a pragmatic conservative.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And then, if pressed to define “pragmatic conservatism,” I say look at the entire body of editorials we published during my time as editor. That’s the definition.

  3. die deutsche Flußgabelung

    Can I quibble with you Brad?

    You seem to be implying that libertarians and classical liberals are synonymous. They are not. While the differences are subtle, they are important. True libertarians (I don’t consider either Sanford or Ron Paul a true libertarian) being only a few notches on the political spectrum away from anarchists, believe in a minimalist government to the extreme. Or as it is sometimes described as the night-watchman state, which is basically a government that provides basic law enforcement and a court system and that is it. Classical liberals also believe in limited government, but it is usually more expansive then the libertarian view of government (i.e. Milton Friedman was completely fine with the idea of national central banks, which is an anathema to true libertarians).

    Then there is the issue of economics one doesn’t necessarily have to believe in capitalism to be a libertarian (there are plenty of libertarians suspicious of large corporations), however one cannot be a classical liberal and not believe markets are the most efficient means of distribution of society’s goods and services. Classical liberals don’t wish to limit the state simply because they believe it to be inherently tyrannical (i.e. the libertarian view), but because they see markets and capitalism as the better alternative to government intervention.

    So in conclusion Sanford is not a libertarian, but a socially conservative classical liberal or more precisely a liberal conservative, seeing as his belief system isn’t rooted in liberalism, but conservatism.

  4. bud

    Lindsey Graham is really nothing but a war-mongering, neo-con hawk who masquerades as a moderate. Personally I’d rather have a war-mongering, neo-con hawk who doesn’t masquerade. At least you know what you’re dealing with on an honest level without all this conniving and phony politicking.

  5. Bryan Caskey

    Went to Charleston for the weekend. Saw many Sanford signs and some bumper stickers. Was very surprised to see ZERO Colbert-Busch signs and only one bumper sticker. I’m not saying that means anything, it just surprised me. I was expecting Colbert-Busch to be ahead of Sanford in that department.

    1. bud

      Probably doesn’t mean much but the latest PPP poll speaks volumes. I suspect Sanford is going to eke this one out. The Republican nature of the district is just too much to overcome. I’m guess about a 54-44-2 breakdown for Sanford, Colbert-Busch and the Green Party guy. The good news is we’ll have Sanford around to entertain us for a few more years.

  6. Doug Ross

    The release of the Colbert-Busch mugshot will probably be enough to push Sanford over the top. As I said about a month ago, I don’t think she understood how rough the Republicans would be. She’s tried to stay under the radar and hope for an anti-Sanford backlash to overcome the huge disadvantage in the Dem/Rep split. I don’t think enough people hate Sanford enough to actually make the effort to go out and vote against him.

  7. Harry Harris

    Sanford isn’t right-wing unless you consider feudalism right-wing. Every policy he has pushed as a legislator or Governor favors protecting the privileged, perks and life’s comforts (like health care and good schools) for those who can afford them, and limiting government’s ability to regulate most anything. His environmental credentials consist mostly of preservation of some nice set-aside areas while ignoring the damaging effects of uncontrolled development and pollution. His great accomplishments as Governor were a 1/4 percent cut in the top tax rate (less than he wanted) over half of which went to the top 1/10th of one percent of taxpayers and a tax shift from high-end residential property to sales tax and business property.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Calling Sanford feudalistic is an insult to feudalism.

      The feudal lord at least had a relationship with his serfs and vassals, one of mutual dependence. A feudal village had an interdependent economy in which you could clearly see each person’s contribution to the whole. There was a communitarian element.

      Sanford’s world view is that of the radical individual who believes he needs no one and is accountable to no one. He can’t see any way the peasants are of any help to him, and he certainly sees himself as having no obligation to them. He believes every man is an island.

  8. Brad Warthen Post author

    I was very gratified by Andrew Shain’s story in Sunday’s paper about the GOP state convention the day before.

    Rather than doing what most news media thoughtlessly do — referring to the more extreme elements in the party as “the conservative wing” — he called them what they are: libertarians.

    He did it throughout. It even made it into the headline, which means this laudable use of the proper word rubbed off on the desk, as well.

    This usage isn’t perfect. All the libertarians are not exactly alike, of course. The Tea Party types are more populist, say, than the Club for Growth gang. And some of the reasons they get angry at Lindsey Graham — such as over immigration — have nothing to do with libertarianism. But a key way in which these party malcontents can accurately be distinguished from the rest of the party is that they are, indeed, more libertarian.

    So I appreciated that.

    1. Bart

      “Rather than doing what most news media thoughtlessly do — referring to the more extreme elements in the party as “the conservative wing”…………..Brad

      And this is exactly what my main objection is to the media’s villification of conservatives as a whole. And it is on purpose, not “thoughtlessly” which suggests laziness on the media’s part. It is a definition based on a widespread belief within the media that “ALL” conservatives are of the extreme or far right element when in fact, true conservatives like true liberals are anything but extreme.

      Hell, we have a few on this blog who are of the same mindset and truly believe all conservatives are extremists. Just ask bud.

      1. bud

        A true conservative is not an extremist. But the Republican party of 2013 is overwhelimingly comprised of extremists.

        1. Silence

          bud – I don’t think that the Republican Party of 2013 (or any other recent year) is comprised of extremists. A party that typically carries around 50% of the vote nationally, and upwards of 50% of the vote in many districts isn’t extremist just by the very nature of the required broad-based appeal needed to achieve those numbers.

          I feel like Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  9. bud

    The GOP is certainly not monolithic. Here a few of it’s groups:

    Neo-Cons (These folks are mostly about war) – Bill Kristol/Dick Cheney/W
    Theocrats (Mostly about promoting their vision of what God wants) Rick Santorum/ Mike Huckabee/Glenn Beck
    Hard core Libertarians (its all about shrinking government, nothing else really matters) – Ron and Rand Paul
    Tea Party Libertarians (adherents to cutting taxes and regulations but only pay lip service to personal freedom, except for guns) – Jim Demint/Mark Sanford/Ted Cruz/Rick Scott/Rick Perry
    Tea Party Victims (fantacize about how they are victims of government oppression) – Sarah Palin/Nikki Haley/Michelle Backman/Newt Gingrich
    New England Moderates (Can at times be sensible, but often serve merely to obstruct Democrats) Olympia Snowe/Susan Collins/Kelly Ayote/George H.W. Bush
    Phony Moderates (This is the Lindsey Graham wing of the party that simply masquerades as moderate) Graham/Marco Rubio/John McCain
    Plutocrats (Believe corporations are people; favor huge tax breaks and loopholes but only for the wealthly; tax hikes – everyone should have skin in the game – and exploitation of everyone else) Mitt Romney

    1. Silence

      The Democratic Party is certainly not monolithic. Here are a few of its groups:
      Homosexuals (a goodly number of ’em)
      Enemies of the 2nd Amendment (and US Constitution in general)
      Billionaires without the last name “Koch”
      Illegal Immigrants
      Profligate Spenders
      People who want a handout
      New World Order/UN types
      Crony Capitalists
      People who read “The New Yorker”
      “Real Housewives” viewers
      Phony Moderates (cuts both ways)
      Aging Hippies
      Fomer 1960’s “radical” terrorists

      1. bud

        I guess I’d qualify in a number of categories: Aging Hippie, Socialist (35% socialist anyway), Unitarian (sounds nicer than atheist), and perhaps Profligate Spender (but just during recessions). But definately NOT Phony Moderate

      2. Doug Ross

        You forgot Victims, the Unlucky, and the people who invented giving Participation Trophies to every child

  10. bud

    Forgot the most important

    The Obstructionist (Their only goal is to block anything a Democratic president tries to pass EVEN IF it is a policy they once supported) Mitch McConnell, John Boehner

    1. Silence

      Or the “Obstructionist” as you label them could in fact be a principled individual who holds a belief that is inconsistent with the proposed legislation…Something that they don’t feel the need to compromise on.

      1. bud

        I’m not talking about principled obstructionism. I’m 100% in favor of that and wish more of our elected representatives had had the courage to obstruct George W in his march to war back in ’03. A more recent example was Rand Paul’s recent old school filibuster. I’m talking about obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism.

  11. Libb

    Maybe this post needs to be renamed to “There’s nothing right about Mark Sanford”. This post from Lauren Manning indicates Jenny’s complaint hearing will address another violation of the divorce agreement related to a segment that states, “at any time the children are at Coosaw, the parties agree that (1) no airplanes will be flown at children, and (2) the property will be insured at a reasonable level to satisfy liability claims.” Anyone care to venture a guess what Mark’s fetish w/ airplanes & children is all about?

    1. Silence

      Where’s the fun in that? You haven’t lived until dad’s flown an airplane at you at your underinsured plantation…

      1. Doug Ross

        Jenny definitely keeps sounding more and more like the “woman scorned”. Combine that with money and lawyers and its just ugly. Let it go, Jenny. Think of your kids.

  12. bud

    Just when you think the Mark Sanford saga cannot get any weirder we have this airplane incident, whatever it was.

  13. Steve Gordy

    You don’t want to be without adequate liability insurance. The good folks at West, Texas just learned that the fertilizer company that burned and exploded only carried $ 1 million in liability coverage. That’s not likely to stretch very far.

  14. Bart

    Jenny took over a year to file a complaint about the “airplane” thing? As Lauren Manning asked, why wait so long? Further, if it was that important, she would have taken action immediately. This sounds like one of those little “pinch” issues that is eventually blown out of proportion. But politics being what they are, Jenny is setting off little bombshells all over the place just before the election. And don’t try to convince yourself that she is not aware of every press release that is negative. She is the ultimate political campaign expert. Remember, she directed Mark’s political career from day one. It is evident that he does not possess the polotical savvy she does.

    1. Mark Stewart

      That’s good, because I have the feeling it came from a disordered mind. You don’t want to understand that…

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