Former SC Governor & Congressman Admits Republican Party Has Lost Its Way
By: Jeff Walker, Book Review
Former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford draws on the iconic words of American poet Robert Frost, in his latest book titled ‘Two Roads Diverged.’ No stranger to the political ‘hot seat,’ Sanford makes mention of his own shortcomings that cost him the governor’s seat in 2009, and then again when he opposed President Donald Trump causing Sanford to not win re-election to congress in 2018.
After Sanford addresses the elephant in the room in ‘Two Roads Diverged’, we dive right into the reasons he authored book, that being how the Republican Party has lost its way. Ever a political history enthusiast, Sanford reflects on the words and wisdom of past politicians such as Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and several of our founding fathers, as well as military leaders, painting a picture of how the GOP got to where it is in 2021. A place Sanford agrees is a shadow of its former self.
Sanford suggests the never-ending political dance surrounding hot button topics such as global warming and transgender bathrooms overshadow America’s biggest threat ‘financial collapse‘. Aside from his few personal missteps, Sanford has long been touted as a fiscal conservative. Sanford reiterates what he has been preaching for years ‘if you keep borrowing from future generations and foreign countries, the United States will eventually become financially bankrupt’.
Once we as a nation are broke, outside divine intervention there is no way for us to reclaim our dominance on the world stage. When businesses and individuals conduct themselves in the same financial manner, they all too often go out of business, lose their homes, their livelihood, or worse yet are subject to criminal prosecution. Why are politicians and big government not held to the same standards. Sanford adds ‘justice without law, and law without justice’ is futile. Sadly, Sanford feels we are losing sight of both.
While the economy is by far the underlying theme in ‘Two Roads Diverged’, Sanford touches on several key issues that have financial implications. Decades ago Washington DC existed on 10 percent of the national budget, whereas today it takes 35 percent to keep big government running. He long wonders why Wall Street types prosper with little regard to the fallout happening to middle America.
Sanford asserts government is no longer limited, noting national, state, and local governments involve themselves in regulations that don’t make sense, with opposing sides caring less about the issue and more about winning the argument. He points to NYC’s recent debacle where the city tried to ban individuals from purchasing Big Gulps, thereby limited a persons sugar intake. Is the government overstepping personal freedoms. Sanford believes indeed they are.
While half of ‘Two Roads Diverged’ deals with various problems, Sanford does spend a good bit of time doling out advice. Sanford offers up 13 suggestions people can do to for themselves, another nine that we can do collectively to get the republican party back on track, and eight things we can do for our nation. Many of Sanford’s proposals reflect re-embracing positive ideals, with finding common ground the core message. He endorses re-embracing the truth, re-embracing reasoning, and re-embracing the kind of power that comes from diverse backgrounds and different perspectives.
Sanford welcomes the ideas and suggestions from liberals, democrats, independents, and the far left, as well as he does hard line republicans. Bringing everything to the table only helps benefit everyone involved. He’s for smaller government, and federalism, allowing that different levels of government ie federal, state, and local should concern themselves with what they do best, and never overlap. States have no business dealing with national defense, as well as Washington DC has no reason to dictate local trash pickup. Sanford fears the feds are usurping their authority.
A lifelong republican, Sanford accepts our best ideas come from a bipartisan approach. He does believe the Republican party has more in common with everyday Americans, however also believes the party has lost touch with their brand, with much of that taking place during Donald Trump’s whirlwind presidency. Sanford suggests while Americans lost faith in Washington DC by 2016, they were ready for a brash billionaire who came across more like a well spoken used car salesman, than a career politician. He adds Trump’s pomposity in the end only tarnished the GOP brand.
Sanford closes out the final 70 pages of ‘Two Roads Diverged’ with individual ‘parting thoughts’ to democrats, Christians, Trump voters, MAGA types, and a host of prominent politicians as well as Trump and Biden. To the former president Sanford advocates our democracy does not yield itself to authoritarianism, providing several Bible quotes to back up his claim.
To the current occupant in the Oval Office Sanford submits Biden has the opportunity to bring the country back to the middle, away from the far left sentiment eroding our society. Sanford provides three civic choices America has before us. ‘We can separate, we can subjugate, or we can reconcile’. As Sanford sees it, we’re already separated. Democrats and Republicans couldn’t be further apart in ideologies, which leads to the party in power seeking total domination.
Sanford proclaims the third choice, and the road less traveled in modern politics today is our best option. We need to find common ground, we need to get back to basics, and re-visit what made America great in the first place. He asks Biden to lay down his gloves and become a president that unites the country, not by mere words but with real actions. America can not keep going in the direction it is going, or it will no longer be the America we recognize.
Perhaps the most personal reflections in ‘Two Roads Diverged’ are Sanford’s own parting convictions, and the final thoughts he leaves to his four sons. As to the former, Sanford recalls his time visiting the US Capitol building earlier this year, more than two years removed from his time in office. Sitting in the grand rotunda Sanford thinks back on his many years serving as an elected official among the hallowed halls of congress.
In a few moments of solitude he contemplates America’s history among the silent watchmen (stern busts of Grant, Lincoln, Kennedy & more), wondering how America got from our founding fathers to an assault on the Capitol this past January. As to his sons, he offers sincere gratitude for all they’ve endured over the years, and for providing Sanford inspiration to find his way again.
Sanford agrees there are some who will never forgive him for his past transgressions, understanding that is human nature. Furthermore he proclaims, he has made amends with God and his sons, and that is more important to him. Seemingly, if we ousted every elected official who has skeletons in their closets or who have sinned against mankind, Washington DC would become a vast wasteland, akin to a ghost town.
Much like Sanford has been given a second chance in politics, he believes and hopes there is a second chance for the Republican party, and with it securing conservative values and the nation. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons Sanford has learned during 24 years in public office, is that of listening.
‘Two Roads Diverged’ is well researched and a serious assessment on how fellow republicans, conservatives, and Christians can help steer the republican party back on the right path. Sanford uses chronicles from American history, and passages from the Bible to deliver an eye opening account of where America is headed should we not take his claims seriously. ‘Two Roads Diverge’ reads more like a hard earned memoir and a political science textbook.
Mark Sanford does not portray himself as a prophet, rather just a man humbly concerned about the nation we all share. Since he was extended a second chance after his public fall from grace, Sanford has re-assessed his life and his contributions to the political arena. In doing so he’s found himself more determined to do what he originally set out to do when first elected to congress back in 1994, and that is two bring the republican and the democrat roads to the same juncture. Read ‘Two Roads Diverged’ with an open mind.
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