No, Mr. Sanford, it’s YOU who chose to do this to us

I’m sure you’ve all seen coverage of our fellow South Carolinian Chris Cox, who took it upon himself to do yardwork at the Lincoln Memorial.

God bless him for his gesture, especially since he seems to have done so out of a generosity of heart, rather than as implied criticism of anyone:

He said he does not have a political position on the shutdown. “I’m not here to point fingers,” he said. “I only want to inspire people to come out and make a difference.”

“The building behind me serves as a moral compass, not only for our country but for the world.”

“And over my dead body are we going to find trash pouring out of these trash cans,” he said. “At the end of the day we are the stewards of these buildings that are memorials.”

“I want to encourage my friends and fellow Americans to go to their parks, and show up with a trash bag and a rake,” he said. “Show up with a good attitude and firm handshake for the U.S. Park Service.”…

With an attitude like that, I can even forgive him for seeming to be a super-visible example of a certain sort of neighbor. You know, the guy who gets up eagerly on Saturday morning and spends the whole day ostentatiously laboring over his lawn, and acting like he likes it, in an obvious attempt to make other husbands in the neighborhood look bad for wanting to take a nap like a sane person.

I don’t think Chris Cox is like that at all, and I appreciate him.

What I don’t appreciate is what Mark Sanford said in praising him:

“I’m impressed, Chris embodies what it means to be not just a South Carolinian, but an American,” added Sanford. “He saw a job that wasn’t getting done and decided to take care of it. We are not a nanny state, and when government in this case chooses not to do something it’s in keeping with the American tradition to ask, “What can I do to fix the problem?” Chris’s example is one we could all learn from in Washington, and accordingly, I applaud him.”

Let’s review the pertinent part of that. Going right by the nonsensical bleating about a “nanny state,” let’s focus on “when government in this case chooses not to do something.”

Let’s run that again, because it completely blows my mind: “when government in this case chooses not to do something.”

No, Mr. Sanford. Only in the sense that you are the government (because you insisted on running for Congress again) did government “choose not to do something.”

It was you, and your colleagues in the Congress. This is true, obvious, beyond question. Aside from the fact that, contrary to your beliefs, the government is not some alien entity “out there” separate from the people, “in this case,” the guilty parties are unquestionably you and your cohorts.

I’m flabbergasted. It’s just beyond belief that he said that…

28 thoughts on “No, Mr. Sanford, it’s YOU who chose to do this to us

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    And yeah, I get it that members of Mr. Sanford’s persuasion blame the decision to shut down this particular government function on the Obama administration.

    But that ignores the fact that SOMETHING was going to be shut down — some task was going to go undone — from the moment the House GOP precipitated this completely unnecessary crisis. Even if you want to include the Democrats in the blame, there’s no way members like Mr. Sanford escape with clean hands…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    And in case you think maybe Mark Sanford, personally, is innocent of blame, I refer you to this report from POLITICO:

    NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Of all the House Republicans taking a hard line on the government shutdown, Rep. Mark Sanford may be in the hardest spot of all.
    Reminders of how heavily Sanford’s congressional district leans on the federal government are everywhere: Charleston’s 24,000 federal workers, more than 7 percent of its workforce, the 10th-highest proportion of any city in the country; the veterans who make up nearly one in seven residents; the thousands of defense contractors who count on Washington’s largesse; and the multiple military facilities, including the Marine Corps’ famous training base and air station, Parris Island, where nearly 300 workers were furloughed.

    Yet Sanford — who made and then remade a political career on his credentials as a fiscal conservative, and who was a proud member of the Republican Revolution that prompted the last federal shutdowns in the mid-1990s — isn’t backing down from his refusal to support a budget bill unless Obamacare is altered…

    1. Juan Caruso

      We who have our eyes open view Congressman Sanford as an opponent of Obamacare, the recent inauhuration of which tends to underscore the incompetence (and cavalier attitude of) our federal government.

      The excessive drama and insidious turmoil attendant to limited government shutdown, however has been contrived to upset the tourists, demoralize our military, and frighten the public by none other than Baback Odrama’s team.

      Like you, Brad, I’m flabbergasted. It’s just beyond belief that Harry Reid, Barack, Chuck Hagel, and Nancy Pelosi said what they have…

      Down with the king, and off with their heads!

  3. Doug Ross

    He will be the Congressman from his district as long as he wants the position. He is doing exactly what he said he would do. You may disagree with his philosophy but the majority of voters don’t.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Actually, Doug, NOT a “majority of voters.”

      There are enough people who think like Sanford to win a Republican primary in the 1st district, once you combine them with the number who would vote for him because his was the only name out of that huge field that they recognized.

      Once he won the primary, he won the general because he has an R after his name, and there are more than enough people in that district who will vote for a Republican regardless of what he says.

      Could he have won that same way in a statewide race? I don’t know. Maybe.

      But I do know that nationally, in the last election, there were more votes cast for Democrats running for the House than there were for Republicans. But the GOP retained control. It has to do with how the districts are drawn, and it would appear that Republicans are better at drawing friendly districts than Democrats are.

      Some of this has to do with racial politics. After the last three censuses (censi?), the GOP benefited from the creation of “majority-minority” districts, such as Clyburn’s. To make one district unnaturally black, you have to make several unnaturally white. And in the South, the latter means Republican. So it is that Clyburn has a super-safe seat, while no other district in the state is likely to elect a Democrat.

      Clyburn knows he doesn’t need to have his district gerrymandered to that extent to get re-elected — I can remember him saying so, as early as his first or second term back in the 90s. But it stays that way, because it benefits the GOP, and the GOP runs the State House, which is where the lines are drawn.

      With Barack Obama’s election, and Tim Scott’s in the same district Sanford won in, there are signs that this simple black-white equation is shifting. (And I think other factors besides race are now used in redistricting, which is getting ever more sophisticated.) But it hasn’t shifted so much that Republicans would like a significant increase in black voters in their districts, not that I’ve seen.

      Whatever the cause, it would appear that nationally, the safe Democratic seats have been made way safer than they need to be, while Republican seats have been made just safe enough. Hence, an election in which more votes are cast for Dems, but the GOP wins more seats…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Unfortunately, the courts permit gerrymandering for the purpose of incumbent protection. Which translates to party protection.

          I don’t know how we should calculate “fair” districts, but they shouldn’t look anything like the way they look now.

          It would do the country a great favor if the courts decided that you couldn’t consider party or past voting patterns or race or any of those things in drawing districts. Just population. That would go a long way toward reducing craziness in the House.

          We’d still have partisanship. We have it in the Senate, so we’d still have it. But in the Senate, someone like Cruz is an anomaly. In the House, he’d be one of a crowd. Eliminate the way we do House districts, and while they wouldn’t run around singing Kumbaya all the time, you’d see more collegiality and common sense in the House…

          1. Norm Ivey

   has ideas for redrawing South Carolina’s districts. It’s more than just drawing lines. They postulate that in SC, even if lines were drawn with geographic compactness without regard to race of party, you would still have an imbalance in representation. Instead, they suggest 2 multi-member districts, with 4 representatives from the upper district and 3 from the lower district.

            What I find most appealing about this approach is their argument that some representatives would have to have the support of the moderate middle to be elected.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Here’s sort of what rational districts would look like:

          There should be a district clustered around Charleston, one around Columbia and one around Greenville. Then a Pee Dee district, another around Horry and Georgetown counties, and another running along the Savannah River.

          You’d need one more to make 7. Not sure where to carve that one out, without spending hours over a map….

        3. Brad Warthen Post author

          Just did a tiny bit of the math.

          SC population now is 4.724 million.

          One-seventh of that is 674,857.

          The combined populations of Lexington and Richland counties is 646,895.

          Throw in Fairfield and you’ve got 670,881. That’s pretty much a district.

          1. Doug Ross

            So you would be opposed to any type of demographic “balancing”, right? I am totally okay with redrawing lines around bordering counties but someone will still have to decide where to put the smaller counties.

            For example, in the case you cited, I would think swapping Kershaw County for Fairfield would change the racial mix enough to influence elections. Kershaw is 73% white while Fairfield is only 40% white. Calhoun might be a better choice at 54% white.

            Who is going to decide those issues?

          2. Kathryn Fenner

            I expect there is a basic computer program that would blindly divide states up into equal geographic districts, and let the votes fall where they may!

          3. Doug Ross

            The problem with redrawing district lines is that you have to define an objective that both parties will agree to. Not going to happen. Maybe it would be better to just have seven at-large slots in this state. Top seven get in. That might pave the way for third party candidates — we do want EVERYONE to have a chance, right? Not just Republicans OR Democrats. Because that’s what it sounds like most party members want – more for their party.

          4. Brad Warthen Post author

            To Doug’s “Who is going to decide those issues?” Which counties in the district, etc.

            I’m not saying it would be easy. I was just describing a district that more or less worked numerically, without dividing counties.

            The main thing to me was having Richland and Lexington in the same district (which both Jim Clyburn and Joe Wilson would HATE, for the same reasons that I would want to do it).

            That wasn’t enough to make up 1/7th of the state, so I went shopping for another county. Kershaw was the one I thought of first, but it’s too big — its 61,697 people would have put us way over. Calhoun wasn’t big enough. Saluda, also too small. Newberry was too big; Orangeburg and Sumter counties were WAY too big. Fairfield was almost just the right size…

      1. dub

        Mark Sanford:
        “Once he won the primary, he won the general because he has an R after his name, and there are more than enough people in that district who will vote for a Republican regardless of what he says.”

        Jim Clyburn:
        Once he won the primary, he won the general because he has an D after his name, and there are more than enough people in that district who will vote for a Democrat regardless of what he says.

          1. dub

            Sorry I’m not reading all the comments before posting, so some of what I’m saying may be something others have said.

    1. bud

      As much as I dislike Lindsey Graham Brad has a point on this narrowly-defined point. Graham is all for government when it comes to the causes he favors, namely war-related causes. He doesn’t mind spending tax money to fight a war. He opposes it’s use when it comes to issues related to social welfare though. Sanford seems to be pretty much against any type of government largesse. Which makes his victory all the more puzzling given the district he’s in.

  4. bud

    Doug is probably right that Mark Sanford has his job for life despite the obvious irony that his district depends heavily on the federal government while the prime directive for Sanford is to limit government. So why do the voters vote against what is so obvious in opposition to their best interest? It’s a puzzle that, while not unique to southerners is somehow ingrained in Dixie DNA. This seems to predate the civil war. I’ve never understood the rabid support by poor, white southerners to go to war to protect an institution, slavery, that they themselves had not stake in. It’s an interesting sociological paradigm.

    1. dub

      I’m more confused as to the generalization of class association toward a specific political party. Poor and white is associated with Republicans; poor and black is associated with Democrats; rich and white is associated with Republicans; rich and black is associated with Democrats; white and middle-class is split between the two parties. black and middle-class is associated with Democrats. Am I wrong in my thinking?

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Van Hollen needs to work on his cross examination chops a little. He could have done that better, as the “witness” looked a little shaky.

      As an aside, aren’t all spending bill supposed to originate in the House?


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