Politics & Government

‘Hitler-like’ strongman could rise ‘if we don’t watch out,’ outgoing SC congressman warns

In his Facebook post, former S.C. Governor and outgoing Congressman Mark Sanford warned that “Washington cannot continue to do business as it now does and have our republic survive.”
In his Facebook post, former S.C. Governor and outgoing Congressman Mark Sanford warned that “Washington cannot continue to do business as it now does and have our republic survive.” dearley@islandpacket.com

Outgoing Congressman Mark Sanford used his Facebook page to warn of the impact “a future Hitler-like character” could have on the country, and comparing the current economy to “riding on the Titanic.”

“I want to be clear and explicit that I am not likening Trump to Hitler,” Sanford said in the Facebook post. “(B)ut the forces at play could lead to a future Hitler-like character if we don’t watch out.”

Sanford’s post quoted Benjamin Franklin as saying “he who trades his freedom for security, deserves neither.”

In the post Sanford said he had hoped to deliver a farewell address on the floor of the House of Representatives Dec. 20, but “the time that I have reserved on the floor got washed out with all the upheaval that Thursday delivered in Washington.” So Sanford pivoted to Facebook for his message.

Sanford opened the Facebook post by sharing his gratitude and reflections on a career in politics, thanking volunteers like Martha Morris, former campaign worker-turned-state senator Tom Davis, Jim Schweitzer who was a cabinet member he fired, and even his ex-wife Jenny Sanford, who he called “a spectacular mom,” and “a great campaign manager.”

Then he warned that the U.S. is “headed for a shipwreck if we don’t change course.”

“Washington cannot continue to do business as it now does and have our republic survive,” posted Sanford, who had been seeking re-election in S.C.’s 1st District when he was defeated in the Republican primary by Katie Arrington, The State previously reported. Arrington ultimately lost to Democrat Joe Cunningham.

Sanford said in his Facebook post that the U.S. is headed “toward the most predictable financial and economic crisis in the history of our republic. If we don’t change course soon, markets will do it for us, and the consequences will be damning with regard to future inflation, the value of the dollar, the worth of our savings, and ultimately our way of life.”

Sanford’s solution to the economy is a return “to math that works,” and “not spending what we don’t have,” according to his Facebook post.

US Rep. Mark Sanford says ending NAFTA, as Trump has threatened, would be catastrophic. Sanford and other members of SC's legislative delegation spoke to the SC Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, August 23.

While citing the writing of Friedrich Hayek in his post, Sanford points out parallels between Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and the path that he currently sees for the U.S. Sanford warned that an impact of a political system that is “cumbersome and inefficient,” is that “inevitably a strongman comes along and offers easy promises.

“He says that he can take care of it for us. People desperate for a change accept his offer. They have to give up a few freedoms in the equation to get more security. It doesn’t work out so well.”

On Facebook, Sanford pointed out there is a movement to embrace populism in “the era of Trump.”

“A cult of personality is never what our Founding Fathers intended. We in fact were to be a nation of laws and not men,” Sanford wrote on Facebook. “I have seen first hand government’s many inefficiencies, and any look at history screams the dangers of walking away from the Founding Fathers’ inherent distrust in systems built on men rather than ideas and the institutions built to protect those ideas.”

Sanford also wrote in the post “we can’t accept the idea of ‘fake news.’ . . . (C)ontext is key to understanding any new bit of information before us. But this does not make all news fake.

“In the former Soviet Union, they have truly fake news, and attempts to equate what’s happening here with what happened there is most dangerous,” Sanford posted on Facebook. “There is a reason that the Founding Fathers enshrined the idea of a free and open press in the First Amendment. We should watch this carefully as the populist waves of today now come ashore.”

Although Sanford and Trump are both Republicans, they have been critical of each other publicly.

Sanford has asked Trump to release his tax returns a number of times, and endorsed an effort made by Democrats to force Trump to release the returns to the House of Representatives and Senate committees that have oversight of the IRS, The Hill reported.

Prior to the Republican primary for the 1st District, Trump endorsed Arrington, The State reported. After Sanford was defeated, Trump called him “a nasty guy” in a meeting with House Republicans, according to CNN.

When the president visited South Carolina to endorse Gov. Henry McMaster, he said Sanford is “a guy I’ve never liked much,” The State reported. Trump then told a crowd “Tallahassee Trail, it must be a very beautiful place. Unfortunately, he didn’t go there,” according to the newspaper.

Trump was likely referring to the Appalachian Trail, where Sanford said he was hiking when it turned out he was in Argentina having an extramarital affair, The State reported. Sanford was governor of South Carolina at the time.

Former Governor Mark Sanford at an opponents to coastal drilling rally before a hearing later Tuesday on the Trump administration's proposal to open the SC coast to oil and gas drilling.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.


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