A few thoughts on Sanford and David
First, your reading assignment is II Samuel 11:1 to 12:25. It should be beneficial even to those of you who are non-religious conservatives. Although it is primarily religious, there are some good political lessons here, too. At the very least, it should give you some insight into the mindset of those of us who are more spiritually oriented.
Let me be clear. I am not saying that Gov. Sanford is anything like King David. After all, as far as I know, Sanford was never shepherd. Sanford never was anointed governor of South Carolina. Sanford certainly did not slay any giants. Scriptures have never described Sanford as a man after God’s own heart. While Sanford and David both did have extramarital affairs, Sanford never abused his office to cover up the affair by giving his adulterous accomplice’s husband unfair leave from military service. Definitely Sanford never used the power of government to murder the husband. While both men only admitted to their wrong when confronted, God speaking through the prophet Nathaniel only had David’s best interests in mind. I don’t think the same could be said about the MSM and Sanford’s enemies. Even with God’s mercy, David paid a terrible price for his mistake – the lives of at least two of his sons. I don’t think the same will be required of Sanford, but God does make it clear that actions have consequences.
If you think this cannot happen to you, might I suggest a little thought experiment. Ignore the whole David and Bathsheba story and think about or read everything else about David. Ask yourself, does this sound like the type of man who would commit adultery? Do you really think that you are more morally capable than King David?
Even with all of his wisdom and knowledge, Plato believed that the best government would be one ruled by a philosopher king. Problem is there has never been a perfect philosopher king of the type to fulfill Plato’s vision. Our founding fathers recognized the basic sinful nature of man (even if they may not have used those exact words) and so set up our government as a system of checks and balances and divided the powers of government between three branches. Divided government is just as important as democracy to our system. If men were perfect we would not need this division.
As conservatives and originalists we need to remember and promote the fact that one foundation of our Constitution is the knowledge that people are not perfect. We will never find a candidate for any office that perfectly aligns with our individual preferences on all issues. Last year during the election, we have had plenty of debate on this site about how different on the issues should a Republican candidate be before we refuse to vote for them. Just as there is no candidate who is perfect on issues, there is also none who has a perfect personal life. It is a conservative principle to expect imperfect politicians. In so doing we are faithful to the principles of the founding fathers. Of course at some point, poor personal behavior does effect the ability to perform the functions of office. In my opinion Sanford has not yet crossed this line.
Like David, Sanford has the potential to repent and reform. On fiscal issues he has been a strong conservative. We have too few politicials who are this principled on fiscal issues. He deserves a second chance with a probationary period. Whether he can rebuild his political standing enough (which includes staying out of trouble) for a presidential run should remain an open question. For now, he should consider the Presidency out of reach. He and his staff need to exile the word “president” from all conversations for the next several years. His priorities need to be repairing his personal life and his family and fulfilling his responsibility as governor.