When I've been asked whom I thought could be the individual to lead the Republican Party out of the wilderness, my answer has always been Mark Sanford. His vision for his party and his country -- traditional values and limited government -- has always been clear, consistent, and, in my view, correct. And he has always pursued that vision, as a congressman and as a governor, with a boldness and courage rare among politicians.
The Cato Institute publishes a bi-annual report card of the nation's governors, ranking them according to fiscal responsibility. In the most recent report, three governors out of fifty received an "A." Sanford was one of the three.
So, like many others, I watched with disappointment his confession about his clandestine adulterous affair.
No surprises that most predict the end of Sanford's political career. And, of course, we've got the usual, and gleeful, accusations of hypocrisy that another conservative Republican has been caught with his pants down.
But if there is a crisis in America today -- and I think there is -- is it that leaders fall short of standards, or is it that our answers to human frailty increasingly tend to deny that any standards exist?
The most strident accusations of hypocrisy come not from those saddened that Sanford fell short of the traditional values to which he subscribes. They're from those who want to de-legitimize and marginalize those traditional values. John F. Kennedy gave a famous speech during his 1960 presidential campaign to address the question of his Catholicism. Rather than argue that Catholic values are consistent with American values, he argued that religion and public policy have nothing to do with each other.
During the almost half century since Kennedy gave that speech, the moral, social, and legal fabric of our country has steadily unraveled.
In 1960, around 5 percent of our babies were born to unwed mothers. Today it is 40 percent.
The pillars upon which our free country stands -- sanctity of life, liberty, and property -- have been eroded to the point where they are barely recognizable.
Since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, 50 million unborn children have been destroyed. The United States now has among the most liberal abortion regimes in the world. In some of our states, a 12-year-old girl can get an abortion without informing her parents, be assisted by her school administrators, and have it paid for with taxpayer funds.
We move step by definitive step to legalizing same sex marriage. By so doing, we will render our most sacred social institution, marriage, meaningless in the official eyes of government and as a nation will formalize the acceptability of behavior our Bible clearly calls sinful and abominable.
Government now claims over 40 percent of our national output, leaving Americans with personal control over barely half the product of their own labor.
And politicians, as we have seen over the last year, can at will take over our privately owned companies, dictate how they're run and what executives earn, and commit private taxpayers to trillions in spending and debt.
In a world in which there is sin, in which there is right and wrong, there is also repentance and redemption.
Mark Sanford's world is that world. Let's pray that he can fix what is wrong inside of himself and that maybe we can still have a leader with the courage and vision that America needs.