Before Donald Trump's arrival in Washington, the conservative movement as represented by the Republican Party had devolved into a lukewarm mess. Reality was the Republican Party didn't really represent conservatism any longer. — Mark Sanford, Former Gov. of South Carolina
Before Donald Trump's arrival in Washington, the conservative movement as represented by the Republican Party had devolved into a lukewarm mess. Reality was the Republican Party didn't really represent conservatism any longer. — Mark Sanford, Former Gov. of South Carolina
Mark Sanford said that GOP leaders went along with Trump 'hijacking' the party because it 'had come to stand for surprisingly little'
  • In his new book, Sanford argues that conservatism as defined by the GOP had lost its way before Trump.
  • "Reality was the Republican Party didn't really represent conservatism any longer," he wrote.
  • The South Carolina lawmaker lost his GOP House primary in 2018 after criticizing Trump.
"Before Donald Trump's arrival in Washington, the conservative movement as represented by the Republican Party had devolved into a lukewarm mess," he wrote. "Reality was the Republican Party didn't really represent conservatism any longer."

Sanford, who was serving in the House during Trump's first presidential campaign, argued that even before the former president entered the Oval Office, conservatism as defined by the GOP was in decline. He pointed out Trump's conduct on Inauguration Day, linking it to the Republican Party's acceptance of the then-president's increasing hold over the party.


"I remember being struck by the way Trump did not include his wife as he walked up to the edge of the dais and took in the moment and the adulation of the crowd that stretched before him," Sanford wrote. "I watched Melania intently, wondering what she was thinking. All I knew was there was no way my former wife, Jenny, nor the wife of any friend would have put up with this."

He added: "What I didn't appreciate in that moment was how Melania's nonreaction of placid indifference to Trump's behavior would be mirrored by millions. As the band took up 'Hail to the Chief,' there was not a whisper from any of the party leaders that Trump was hijacking the Republican brand. Why would there be? You can't change what you no longer have, and people generally don't get agitated about losing something that is not theirs."

... "There was no strong objection within Republican circles to what Trump began to change in the Grand Old Party because to many of them, the GOP had come to stand for surprisingly little," he wrote. "The people who truly believed in conservative ideals were disillusioned and tired of the Republican Party's abysmal efforts to advance their ideas."

While in office, Trump was able to muscle through the 2017 tax reform bill, which lowered the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, along with installing a raft of conservative judges to the federal bench, but Sanford was less-than-impressed with the then-president.

After Sanford publicly clashed with Trump, who called the then-congressman "nothing but trouble," he lost the GOP primary for his House seat in 2018 to state legislator Katie Arrington, who went on to lose the general election to Democrat Joe Cunningham in what was considered a major upset.


In his book, Sanford said that if someone was asked what the GOP represented they might say "it stands for freedom," but noted that "Trump's style was far too autocratic to allow that answer to stick, and his flirtations with leaders like Vladimir Putin undercut the GOP's moral high ground on freedom."

He added: "Let's sit down at the proverbial kitchen table and make a more forward-looking list of what it should mean to be a Republican and a conservative today. Call it Barry Goldwater 2.0 or a modern-day Conscience of a Conservative, or even plain common sense, but we desperately need a conservative conscience, and more so, we need its timeless principles to be applied to the challenges of the day."
Read the full article: https://www.businessinsider.com/mark-sanford-trump-hijacking-republican-party-leaders-principles-2021-8