April 14, 2009

In my local role here in Charleston, South Carolina, as a personality for 1250 AM WTMA talk radio and a columnist for the Charleston City Paper, my listeners and readers tend to fall into one of three camps:

Dedicated, ideologically defined, and self-described talk radio listeners who truly believe Sean Hannity is a great American.

Casual listeners who aren’t particularly tied to the Republican Party who might have voted for Obama, third party or stayed home.

Diehard, Ron Paul fans.

The first two camps constitute the overwhelming majority of my audience. The last is a small, but vocal minority. I consider it my job to show the 1st camp how much of mainstream conservatism is anything but, the 2nd, how to think outside of the “conservative” and “liberal” mindset, and the 3rd I like to feed red meat.

Needless to say, my endless bashing of virtually every other conservative on talk radio, popular figures like Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, and constantly referencing Ron Paul has convinced much of my audience that I’m not even operating in the real world, am either a “purist,” or a secret liberal. “Stop bashing the Republican Party, Jack! It’s all we’ve got!” a caller recently told me. “You’ve got to get over Ron Paul and look at Palin” said another.

To my knowledge, Governor Mark Sanford’s refusal of $700 million in stimulus is the most radical resistance to Obama and the Democrats spending by any Republican in a position to take a stand. Sanford’s poll numbers are down (not amongst self-described conservatives), protests have sprouted, a “Sanfordville” (like “Hoovervilles”) has been erected across the street from the governor’s mansion, and the entire state GOP is against him. And he won’t budge: “You can’t keep printing money you don’t have.” The state is tired of hearing this from the governor.

Sanford is a staunch opponent of REAL ID, stood against S.C. law enforcement in opposing gathering DNA after arrests for identification purposes, voted against the war in Kosovo and bombing of Iraq while in Congress, supports ending the Cuban embargo, and”€”of course”€”is fiscal conservative to what many consider a ridiculous degree.

Given Sanford’s prior statements about not believing in pre-emptive war, when I heard the governor say on FOX News Sunday that he would “defer” to Newt Gingrich, and seemed to agree, with the notion of “taking out” North Korea’s missiles, I was disappointed, to say the least. So I contacted Sanford’s press secretary, Joel Sawyer, to discuss the matter. Sawyer gave me permission to make the details of our conversation public.

“To call Sanford a “€˜non-interventionist’ is not exactly true” said Sawyer flatly. “But the threshold for him is so high, ridiculously high” for any military intervention or involvement that it’s hard to make the distinction, said Sawyer. Sawyer brought up that Sanford opposed both Kosovo and the invasion of Iraq because he did not believe they were justified.

On the question of the North Korea missile test, Sawyer stated that Sanford meant what he said”€”Washington, DC cannot keep talking tough to North Korea and never back it up. And if there is a way for the U.S. to make good on its threats without committing troops or invading a nation, Sanford supports it.

Naturally, as a non-interventionist, I completely disagree. And supporting Gingrich’s crazy talk on attacking North Korea with an “electromagnetic-pulse” is two steps away (or perhaps no steps away) from needlessly dropping bombs simply because it’s cheaper than sending troops. But then again, Sanford voted against Clinton’s bombings of Iraq.

Ultra “€œred”€ South Carolina, with the highest military population of any state, is probably the dumbest place for a paleoconservative like me to attempt to launch a radio career. But it is also my home. And Sanford has been unquestionably the best example of a homegrown Alternative Right-friendly figure that could help push Hannity fans and casual listeners toward a more traditional conservatism or libertarianism. Even our Senator Jim DeMint”€”who, to date, is absolutely dreadful on foreign policy”€”is extremely useful on issues like the Wall Street Bailouts, Bush and Obama’s stimulus ,and amnesty. Subsequently, I don’t concentrate on beating up DeMint (nor do I cheerlead for him to the extent that I do Sanford). I reserve my Palmetto State ire for “neo-concierge” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a man who represents everything that is wrong with the Republican Party, the Right and the United States in general”€”on economics, civil liberties, immigration, foreign policy, and virtually anything else.

Even though the Southern Avenger is likely more recognized as a “Ron Paul guy” at this point, I still consider myself a Pat Buchanan paleoconservative, and have since at least 1996. Though I was disappointed that Buchanan did not stand behind Paul more often during the Republican primaries”€”and instead went to bat for Mitt Romney and his “Hour of Power” religion speech and even cozied up to McCain at times”€”I never dismissed him. In the end, and in my heart, I know Pat will always be one of the good guys. 

There are many on the Alternative Right who find much value in figures like Tom Tancredo (who wanted to bomb Mesopotamia), Bay Buchanan (who actually worked for the Romney campaign, a man who wanted to “double Gitmo”€), Sen. Jim Webb (who seems to be very pro-Obama on spending), and even Michelle Bachmann (who is now cheered for questioning the constitutional authority of Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke to intervene in the economy, even though she was calling for the investigation of those who might be “anti-American” during the election).

For the Alternative Right, I too, find much value in Tancredo, Bay, Webb and Bachmann, despite their faults. When looking at their policy positions, I also find more value in Mark Sanford than any of them.

If the question is, “Is Sanford the man to lead the Ron Paul Revolution?” the answer might be “no,” as Paul would have looked Gingrich in the eye on FOX News Sunday and told him he was bat-shit crazy. Sanford was far more diplomatic.

But if the question is “Is Sanford of some value to the Ron Paul Revolution?” the answer seems to be an unqualified “yes.” Groups like Campaign for Liberty, Young Americans for Liberty, and other Paul-oriented organizations never need to lose their radicalism, which gives them their drive and quite frankly, their charm.

But in pushing politics, public opinion and the Right toward Paul-oriented goals, yesterday’s radicalism stands a better chance of becoming tomorrow’s “fresh new ideas” by making alliances with figures and movements that make those ideas more palatable to a mainstream audience.

Which is why I will continue to tout Sanford when it makes sense. In the much-speculated upon 2012 presidential elections, I could easily envision a feisty Ron Paul still sticking it to the GOP establishment, hopefully former New Mexico Gary Johnson Governor will help carry on the Paul banner, and Sanford would certainly be preferable”€”not incrementally, but far and away, more preferable”€”than Romney, Palin, Gingrich and any of the other pro-empire, warmongering candidates that are sure to stink up the Republican ticket.

The 3rd camp needs to grow, and while the Alternative Right should always stick to its roots, to make progress, it will also be necessary to extend its branches.

Toward this goal, it remains true that most Republican and Democrats are completely worthless. Mark Sanford is not one of them.


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