Michele Walk, Staff Writer
Ideology: Moderate | Writing from: Massachusetts
News broke recently that the Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, has been cheating on his wife and recently took a mysterious trip to Argentina to visit his girlfriend. My first reaction to this revelation was to remark “what a scoundrel!” Additionally, he used $12,000 in state funds to visit his mistress last year – while also on an official mission of the Department of Commerce. Sanford, however, has apologized for the affair and has promised to pack back the taxpayers of South Carolina. The affair and his related lapses in judgment bring tremendous personal shame upon him and his family, yes – but overall does it make him a bad governor?
In my opinion, no. Mark Sanford has a strong record of serving the state of South Carolina. Before being elected to the governorship in 2002, he was a member of the House of Representatives for six years. An ardent reformer, Sanford has never been afraid to stand up for what he believes in and he has consistently advocated for what he believes right for his state, even if it has made him unpopular at times. He has stood up against pork barrel spending in the state budget, and led the charge in reforming the state’s finances, which included tax cuts, successful job growth initiatives, and reforming the state’s public schools. He has reduced the influence of special interests, and streamlined the state government – and that is just a sampling of his accomplishments. Time and time again he has shown himself as a true fiscal conservative and an unabashed advocate of freedom. More than that, Sanford has proven himself to be effective governor and a true reformer.
I wish I could say the same about my own governor, Deval Patrick. In 2006, Patrick was elected as the governor Massachusetts on a platform of change and reform very similar to Obama’s (in fact, their slogans and speeches were often almost identical). However, since coming into office in 2006, Patrick has accomplished almost nothing except fight with the state legislature, which is heavily Democratic (84%, actually). He has supported tax hikes and has repeatedly mismanaged state funds without apology. Patrick, unlike Sanford, has not paid back Massachusetts taxpayers, nor does he seem to harbor any intent to. Massachusetts is facing a huge budget deficit and the Commonwealth continues to lose jobs. Patrick seems like a great guy: he’s a family man and says a lot of pretty words about reform. But has he brought real change to my home state of Massachusetts? No.
Mark Sanford, however, brought not only bring real but documentable change to South Carolina. Yes, he cheated on his wife, and for that he should be ashamed of himself. He also mismanaged taxpayers’ money to pay for his affair – an inexcusable offense for which he has rightly offered to rectify. However, he freely and openly offered his admitted the affair and, unlike Bill Clinton, has not perjured himself. I don’t mean to justify Sanford’s affair nor his improper use of state funds; however, people make mistakes, and after all, isn’t this the land of redemption? Sanford appears to be making what appears to be a genuine effort to fix his mistakes, and it’s time for us to at least give him the chance to redeem himself. He still has an excellent record as a Governor and has, up until this point, served the state of South Carolina well. Honestly, unless Sanford starts cheating on the State of South Carolina and moonlights as another state’s governor, he shouldn’t be pressured nor expected to step down.