Friday, October 2, 2009

Walk the Walk

Can you tell what is wrong with each of the following pictures?

A married conservative governor known for promoting family values
as well as other socially conservative virtues, enters into an
affair with a woman from Argentina. He plans a trip to visit her
in her home country, covering his tracks by instructing his staff
to inform the press and the people of his state that he was going
hiking on the Appalachian Trail for a week. Should an emergency
occur necessitating the governor's return, no one would be able
to contact him. The state would be placed in a vulnerable position.
All of this, after the governor's public condemnations of one-time
congressional House Speaker-designate Bob Livingstone (himself
a Republican) and then-President Bill Clinton for their extra-
marital dalliances; he accused Livingstone of lying to cover up
his affair and stated that Clinton should resign the presidency.
The truth of the tryst comes out despite the governor's secrecy,
leaving his family life and his career in shambles.

A conservative Republican candidate for a seat in his state's
legislature, or perhaps in Congress, is elected on the tradi-
tional conservative vow to reform the budget so as to rein in
spending and lower taxes. On the campaign trail, he was critical
of the Democrats' always seeking more and more revenue for gov-
ernment programs of questionable necessity and purpose ---
read "pork". "No more pork-barrell projects! Accountability to
the taxpayers!" was the candidate's promise to the people.
But not long after taking office, the legislator veers away
from the candidtae's promise, voting for exactly the kind of
projects that the candidate had criticized, all to gain favor
with powerful interest groups with deep pockets and loads of

In the first picture, the philandering hypocrite is Governor
Mark Sanford of South Carolina; in the second picture there
are dozens of Republican legislators, all doing one-eighties
to the chagrin of their constituents back home. Gov. Sanford
flushed his political career down the toilet; he was considered
by many in the GOP to be a strong presidential prospect for
2012, and a lock for re-election as his South Carolina's
governor in the meantime. Neal Thigpen, a political scientist
at Francis Marion University, recently remarked "Now he's
(Sanford) not even a lame duck -- he's a dead duck!"
I couldn't have phrased it any better! As for the Republican
legislators who sold out their political principles and their
supporters for perceived political gain, many of them have
instead lost their seats in their state legislatures and in
Congress to Democrats, resulting in shifts of power in these
legislative bodies. Even former President George W. Bush,
an ostensibly conservative Republican, went against some of
these same conservative principles that the Republican Party
rode to victory in elections in the 1980s and '90s with, most
notably Ronald Reagan, in what were watershed events in American
politics. Bush gave us then-record spending, then-record debt,
and then-record budget deficits, paving the way for the election
of Barack Obama to the presidency along with a Democrat-run
Congress. Obama & Company have since taken these to even
higher levels.

The lesson here is that when conservatives in office go against
conservative principles, they cease being a buffer against
liberal statism as well as cease being an alternative to ethical
and moral laxity. To be a conservative entails adherence to a
set of well-defined political, economic, and social principles
which foster liberty and personal responsibility. When conser-
vatives abandon their sense of responsibility, their account-
ability to the people dissolves, along with the people's
confidence in them. This is why the Republican Party was soundly
defeated in 2006 and 2008.

Note to Gov. Sanford and other wayward conservatives:
your deeds, in both your public and private lives, should
always match your words. Don't just talk the talk; you must
also walk the walk. If you can't --- or won't --- do that,
then stop calling yourselves conservatives.


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