Though I can’t say I agree with every detail of Sanford’s vision of limited government, I find him extremely impressive. President Obama has, through the force of his intellect and personality, expanded the scope of political debate in the U.S. He has, in just a few short weeks, moved the center of political gravity to the left. We’re now seriously debating an expansion of government that hasn’t been on the table since the 1970s.
Mark Sanford represents the counter-reaction. He is moving conservatism away from the delusions of pain-free prosperity and toward the rigor of self reliance. My sense is that this is not a move that will help Republicans win elections. Just as LBJ crushed Goldwater in 1964 by highlighting the many middle-class benefits he put in place, Obama will certainly try to do the same thing to an aggressive budget cutter like Sanford.
Yet this might be the political argument we need. At some point in the near future, we will come to the sudden, sharp realization that we’re not as wealthy as we thought we’d be