Monday, February 28, 2005

You Can't Keep a Good Man Down 

Three years ago, Mark Sanford became Governor of South Carolina, winning on a platform of fiscal responsibility and having abstained from negative campaigning. He was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, a rare feat in an increasingly divided political environment. There was murmuring at the time that perhaps he should run for President some day.

It seems that murmuring hasn't died down. I don't know anyone who thinks Governor Sanford won't run for re-election next year, but after the debacle of the 2004 elections it's understandable people of all political persuasions are casting a wide net, looking for viable Presidential candidates whom voters can support without reservations. That's why I think that Lee Bandy's op-ed piece urging Sanford not to run is misguided. He says that a Sanford candidacy would be damaging to the South Carolina GOP because it would diminish the importance of their primary. He's saying that whether or not Sanford would make a good President is irrelevant - it's more important to let South Carolina Republicans bask in the glow of their hard-won power.

I admit that I have little patience with insider politics. The machinations of party insiders are what got us John Kerry as a Democratic candidate in 2004 instead of Edwards, Dean, or Clark. They're what got us George Bush for a Republican candidate in 2000 instead of McCain. Party insiders have a preconceived idea of whose turn it is to run for President, and they are not going to let a petty thing like the will of the American people stand in the way. But those insiders can be woefully out of touch with reality, with the daily struggles of everyday Americans. That is why, if we want to have a President we can all be proud of, sometimes we have to refuse to toe the party line, something Sanford hasn't been afraid to do as Governor.

If Mark Sanford decides to run for President, it will not be bad for South Carolina. What would be bad for us, and for the rest of the country, would be to keep a good man from running for President.


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