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Monday, March 02, 2009

Mark Sanford and a bright future for a limited government GOP?

Picture 1 Hugh, I'm not full of hope for the Republican Party. While they certainly have an opportunity to unite in opposition to the statist drive of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid regime and put forward a vision of limited, constitutional government, I have doubts about whether the ascendant forces driving the party towards a free-market orientation can overpower the forces of the status quo, and stronger doubts still about resting expectations about what politicians might do in positions of power on their actions when they are on the outs.

Nevertheless, there are more bright lights among the Republicans than the Democrats, and I was pleased to see Paul Ryan's piece in the WSJ. Michael Brendan Dougherty, writing in The American Conservative, has a short but informative profile of South Carolina Governer Mark Stanford, in my view, one of the Republicans' very brightest lights:

Though he had endorsed John McCain in 2000, Sanford stayed out of the Republican contest in 2008. Two days before the primary, Sen. Lindsey Graham was dispatched to Sanford’s office with a plea and an offer. Graham told Sanford that an endorsement from the popular governor could put McCain over the top in the key primary state. In return, he promised a spot on McCain’s veep shortlist. Sanford responded cooly, “I don’t need your help getting on the shortlist” and declined.

Once the nomination was settled, Sanford wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed making the case for McCain. But when he was asked to defend McCain’s economic proposals by Wolf Blitzer, his smooth delivery degenerated into a stammering admission that he was stumped. The gaffe was used against him, but the clip is cited by libertarians as a point in Sanford’s favor since for them there was no credible defense of McCain’s economics.

Sanford’s conservative credentials compare favorably to anyone else mentioned as a 2012 presidential contender. He calls the public-education system “a Soviet-style monopoly.” He promoted school choice through tax rebates to avoid the appearance of government control. He passed a “Castle doctrine” bill that was supported by the NRA. He favors a law-and-order approach to immigration, but opposed REAL ID on civil liberties grounds. Though he avoids showy displays of piety, he is reliably pro-life.

But the governor edges closer to pure libertarianism at times. He rolls his eyes at the Columbia sheriff’s department’s zeal in investigating Michael Phelps’s recreational pot use. And he criticizes Alan Greenspan’s management of the “opaque” Federal Reserve. “If you take human nature out of a Fed, it might work,” he explains. “But you can’t. You can have these wise men. But who wants to turn off the spigot at a party that’s rolling?“

He also deviates from the Republican line on foreign policy. In Congress, he opposed Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo. And he was one of only two Republicans to vote against the 1998 resolution to make regime change in Iraq the official policy of the United States. He says that it was a “protest vote” in which he tried to reassert the legislature’s war-declaring powers. When asked about the invasion of Iraq, he extends his critique beyond the constitutional niceties. “I don’t believe in preemptive war,” he says flatly. “For us to hold the moral high ground in the world, our default position must be defensive.”

Read the rest.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on March 2, 2009 | Permalink


And he comfortably quotes Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman.

Sanford is my favourite. Reading this piece from the American Conservative has sealed the deal for me. (The others? Jeff Flake and Gary Johnson. Ron Paul too, but less so).

Time to come up with some clever slogans. I've got nothing except some play on Sanford & Son (or whatever that show was called).

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-03-02 6:34:41 PM

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