REASONS WHY SANFORD NEEDS TO LEAVE OFFICE
By: Keith H. Seymour
WRITER’S NOTE: For purposes of journalistic integrity, I feel the need for purposes of disclosure that as someone whose family has lived in South Carolina for almost thirty-one years, and who has been a freelance writer and media consultant, I have met and made friends with various prominent political leaders on both sides of the political Isle. Among those I have met include Lieutenant Governor Bauer, who I have known since high school, and Governor Sanford, whose campaigns I have volunteered.
Up until recently, I have had a great deal of respect for the governor, including at times when I have disagreed with his positions on various political issues. I also still agree with the governor’s position on the stimulus package. It will be detrimental to this state, and as detrimental as his remaining in office.
Having made that disclosure, I must preface my remarks that in writing this article, I am going to have to remember that as a journalist, I need to avoid personalizing the governor’s actions. This is going to be very difficult since I feel like I have been played for as a fool. Just prior to the start of the press conference, a journalist from the “New York Times,” suggested infidelity, and I stated that Governor Sanford in addition to being a man who held positive values, was too predictable and boring to commit adultery. I also feel that the governor of this state has made South Carolinians look like a bunch of Bible thumping hypocrites, to the entire nation. I personally experienced this humiliation, when I phoned a cousin of mine in Washington D.C. who I had just seen at a recent family reunion here in South Carolina. When I called my cousin to warn him what he would see on the national news, I found out he had already been asked by someone “Did you go on any interesting hikes with the governor of South Carolina, while visiting your family in South Carolina.” The call that I made to my cousin was less than an hour following the press conference. Unlike the person who had said this to him, my cousin had not yet heard of Sanford’s indiscretion, and had no idea what the innuendo meant. (I.e. those bible thumping South Carolina relatives of yours have such great values that they elected an adulterer.) The fact that South Carolinians would have to defend our “Bible Belt values” as the real thing to people we know from other states is unacceptable and admittedly something that should be taken personally.
However, from a non-personal point of view, the fact is that Mark Sanford’s actions are no different than those of Bill Clinton’s actions during his presidency, and Republicans “must” hold the governor up to the same standards of behavior and honesty, as President Clinton. I realize that there are those within the state’s Republican Party and this country who have and are going to state that what this man does in private is not the public’s business, and that the man is only human. As a colleague of mine from one of the major television news station here in Columbia stated, after I ran into him,” I know a lot of humans who do not behave in this manner.” As for those on both sides of the political aisle, let me say this: Senator Jake Knotts (Republican-Lexington County) and other South Carolina Republicans, saying that Governor Sanford should be forgiven, are the very same people who justifiably condemned President Clinton, several years ago for similar actions. Likewise Representative Todd Rutherford and other Democrats, calling for Governor Sanford’s resignation, are some of the same people who felt Former President Clinton should be forgiven. I would be remiss in my duty as a journalist not to point out the hypocrisy of these and other elected officials whose political affiliation and agendas are more important than the moral and political stability of those people in this state. Such individuals need to be replaced. However, that is another editorial for another time.
The fact is that South Carolinians take Bible Belt “family values” seriously, and this man was elected twice, because ( at least in part) this man falsely portrayed himself has having those values, when in truth he was not living by up them. This man did just lie to the people of South Carolina; he mocked the values of the people of this state. He therefore, abused not just the trust of South Carolinians, but South Carolinians themselves.
Those people, who state that this man’s private life is his own business, are correct. However, when this man’s affair caused him to jeopardize the smooth running of this state by not telling the Lieutenant governor of his absence, and he used a state paid for car to drive him to the airport, so he could fly to his mistress in Argentina, it became the business of every person in this state. The people of this state do not pay taxes to our elected officials so they can use tax paid vehicles to go off on romantic rendezvous with their lovers.
Neither do the citizens of this state pay taxes to have our state’s well-being put in Jeopardy. Since the governor felt it is more important to use the power of his hormones to please his mistress, than to cater to the moral and physical well-being of the people to whose care he has been entrusted, he showed he did not care about the well-being of this state and its citizens. His actions are no less than pure neglect. When a parent neglects their children, said parent is relieved of those children for the purpose of making sure that those children grow up to become emotionally and physically stable individuals, Likewise Governor Sanford needs to be relieved of his duties as the person in charge of this state, so this stae may be reespected as moral, and may thrive on the dignity and pride of values that have made it the Center of this country's Bible belt and moral compass.
If South Carolina is to keep its values for the survival of this state, and so that the people of this state may continue to teach their children that right is right and wrong is wrong regardless of money, power, or political affiliation, then those elected to represent the citizens in this state need to be urged to ask for Governor Sanford’s resignation. Such actions may be forgivable based on political affiliation in our nation’s capitol, or other states. It is not, and need not become acceptable in South Carolina.
In regards to this, It should be restated at this point for those who will inevitably state that this man’s private life is no one’s business but those of his family and Governor Sanford, as well as those who state you cannot legislate morality, that this man put the smooth running of this state in jeopardy by (1) Not telling the Lieutenant governor of his absence in case pressing business needed to be dealt with (2) by lying to his staff members about his whereabouts, and (3) by creating a situation that not only makes puts this state in a negative light to the point that people view South Carolinians a hypocrites, but to the degree that people will not want to visit or move to a state that “does not practice what we preach.” South Carolina is already on the bottom of the list in almost every other category; let’s not let our elected officials put us on the bottom of the list in the areas of honesty and positive family values.
Furthermore it needs to be re-stated that a state funded vehicle was used to take him to the airport for this personal event, which is clearly a misuse of taxpayer funds.
In closing, I would like to sincerely state that as someone who believes in the sanctity of marriage, I hope the Sanford’s work out their marriage, and that their children survive this tragedy. However, whether this man saves what is left of his marriage, one thing remains clear. He needs to resign or forceably removed, so this state’s image moral and political stability may remain intact.
Keith H. Seymour is freelance writer and Media Consultant from Columbia, South Carolina, where he has lived for over 30 years. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 803-960-8785 (cell Phone)