SOUTH CAROLINA (WSAV) — South Carolina’s Mark Sanford made an attempt to talk about bringing more civility back into politics and our country as a whole after the shooting of a Louisiana congressman Wednesday in Virginia. In doing that, Congressman Sanford reviewed what he feels is a disturbing national trend toward vitriol and impoliteness and as part of his concerns, he brought up President Trump’s language and behavior, including on the campaign trail.
“But the fact you’ve got the top guy saying I wish I could hit you in the face and because I can’t if you want to hit him, I will pay your legal fees, that’s concerning,” said Sanford as he was interviewed this week on MSNBC.
Sanford also said during that interview that he “would argue that the president is partially, again not in any way totally, but partially to blame for demons that have been unleashed.”
Thursday evening, he tried to make his point more explicitly to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “And I want to be clear I didn’t blame him for the shooting that took place,” said Sanford. “What i said was we’ve gotten to a point in terms of a break in civility in our country and that’s a problem.”
It wasn’t enough of an explanation, however, to dissuade many from commenting negatively on his Facebook page. A lot of people expressed the fact they think Sanford betrayed the president and “should get on board.” One man telling Sanford his “career is over.”
“People react (so quickly) I think it underscores the fairly combative, emotional state that the world of politics is in right now,” Sanford told us by phone Friday from his Charleston office.
While he hopes this might be a pivotal point, Sanford admits he’s disheartened. He recounted several town halls in the past several months. There was quite a bit of yelling and one man gave him a familiar finger gesture (which is not a sign of admiration.) But Sanford seemed most effected by an event awhile back when he went to talk to older people. “What I saw at a senior center back home with people saying F you, F you, F you (was pretty shocking.) And people say hey look – if the guy at the top can say anything he wants anytime, why can’t I?”, Sanford told us.
Friday, Sanford sent out a message on his Facebook page urging everyone to listen to an entire he had posted online. He says the entire country can improve and that there’s plenty of “blame to go around.”
Despite his plea, it seems many just made comments that were not supportive of Sanford. “I stand by what I said which is simply that we all have a hand in increasing civil discourse in our country,” Sanford told us. “My point is we’re all Americans and again that’s the bigger point I’ve been trying to get at – some of which is resonating and some of which clearly isn’t ” Sanford says all in Congress need to start speak out if leaders are making things worse and that’s on the Right and Left.
“I think it is vital we get our arms around this,” Sanford told us. “I hope the tragedy that occurred and then the baseball game and how people came out for the game, I hope that it serves as a catalyst for turning around at least debate and rhetoric at least in the political arena.”