What Sanford and SC Republicans Can Learn From Tiger Woods
I was raised in a Democrat household in a Democrat town in a Democrat state. I am an active member of the Republican Party today for one reason…Ronald Wilson Reagan. Between the time Reagan served as Governor of California and his run for the Republican nomination for president, he produced a series of nationally syndicated radio programs that clearly laid out his vision for America. Over 1000 of these short programs were produced with the vast majority written by Reagan's own hand on a legal pad. Reagan's writing was clear, concise, inspirational, and powerful. The programs were foundational to the development of my vision of America and they were the catalyst that made me decide at age 18 to register as a Republican.
I was delighted to hear approximately 65 of these programs have been re-mastered and made available for broadcast. The Republican Party leadership would do well to listen to Reagan's programs. They contain the core values that led to the two landslide victories for conservatism that put America on track to defeat the Soviet Union and raise America to the position of the world's loan superpower.
Republicans have lost the core values that captured the imagination of a nation. I really believe President Bush meant well but during the last two and a half years of his presidency he compromised the core principals of Reagan and the party went into a state of decline. Confusion and a lack of confidence in the leadership led to a leftwing takeover of the federal legislative branch in 2006 and of the executive branch in 2008.
Can true conservatism make a comeback? It can and it will but only if the people of this country are willing to rise up and demand the Republican Party abide by the party platform and by the United States Constitution. I have heard several Republican leaders suggest that we need a new "contract with America" similar to the one that led to the 1994 take over of the House of Representatives. Here's my idea of a contract with America…every true conservative Republican running for office should hold up a copy of the Constitution and say, "Here is my contract with America! Vote for me and I will do everything in my power to lead us back to real constitutional government."
Nowhere has the slide from Republican core values been more on display than in the handling of the Sanford affair. Most Republicans run on a platform of family values that support the family as the cornerstone institution of society. The Republican Party platform is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and it emphasizes personal responsibility and integrity. Elected officials enter into a sacred trust with their constituents when they are sworn into office. When that sacred trust is broken, that official is no longer fit to serve. They can be forgiven, reconciled, and eventually restored to a place of respect in society but it is very hard to regain the level of trust that is necessary to lead in the public arena.
If Tiger Woods latest statement concerning his multiple affairs can be taken at face value it appears he understands better than Governor Sanford what needs to be done to have a chance to restore the public trust. After apologizing for the "disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people," Tiger went on to announce, "after much soul searching I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf." He then expressed his desire to focus on being a better father, a better husband, and a better person.
If Tiger is as good as his word his decision could have a profound effect on his family and it could send a much needed message from a mega superstar with an international platform that there are many things in this world more important than money, power, and fame. Only time will tell but I pray that Tiger will turn to God for forgiveness and for the strength he will need to become a better husband and a better person. It can't be easy for Tiger to walk away from golf. It has made him a billionaire and the most recognizable person on the planet. The pressure on him to continue the gravy grain for the PGA must have been enormous. Obviously, he has a long way to go but so far, Tiger is taking the first step in doing the right thing.
If Governor Sanford had resigned at his now infamous press conference perhaps his wife would not have announced this week that she is filing for divorce. Maybe another family would be saved from the ravages of divorce and maybe the South Carolina Republican Party would not have revealed their complete lack of resolve in holding its leaders accountable to the moral standards of its own platform.
Personal responsibility, accountability, and a determination to do what is right regardless of the cost are paramount to a conservative resurgence in the public arena. These characteristics begin with honesty and end with consistency in their application in life. Tiger Woods has certainly failed to exemplify these characteristics but if his willingness to walk away from his public persona to get his private life in order turns out to be sincere it will serve as a valuable lesson in how to regain trust.