Saturday, February 06, 2010
The Sanfords do not define South Carolina
Soon to be former First Lady Jenny Sanford was interviewed by the famous Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20 Friday night, a day after Sanford's book about her life with Governor Mark Sanford was released. Unfortunately for South Carolina, the odd life of the Sanfords is the first thing that comes to mind about South Carolina from people around the nation and the world.
South Carolina was here before the Sanfords and South Carolina will be here after the Sanfords fade in the public memory. For that matter, neither Sanford is a native of South Carolina. The Governor is from Florida. The First Lady is from the Midwest. Yet, in most conversations with someone outside South Carolina, the Sanfords are asked about. Right or wrong, so many think of them when they think of South Carolina. Further, the Sanfords and their saga makes VUI long for the likes of Reagan, a man who loved his wife deeply and was thankful to have his job.
South Carolina has some blame. We elected Mark Sanford. Our legislative leaders decided to keep Sanford in office. But, South Carolina should not be defined by the Sanfords.
South Carolina is a great place to live and work. South Carolina has natural beauty that stretches from the beaches of Hilton Head Island to the top of Ceaser's Head Mountain. Frankly, South Carolina's natural beauty is as rich and diverse as any state's. If you doubt that, watch a sunrise at Dafuskie Island or a sunset over Jones Gap.
The people of South Carolina are rich and diverse as well in their values, work ethic and culture. Even among the pockets of poverty in the state, there is a sense of rich culture and tradition and family. Millions of South Carolinians get up every day, loyal to their mates, and working hard for a better life. History and stories of great people run deep in South Carolina.
South Carolina is a place in which people still say "hey" to one another at the grocery store or on the street. It is a place that has people who will stop and help you with a flat tire on the side of the road. It is a place where having the best barbecue is as important as making millions of dollars. It is a place were thousands of couples have the self respect to work out their problems or the end of their relationships privately.
South Carolina is also a place where businesses come knowing that a hard working people await. South Carolina gives more than its fair share to the services in defense of the United States and takes pride in that. Throughout the state, there are monuments to those who served our nation at courthouses.
Having had the opportunity to be in every town and city in South Carolina, and thousands of living rooms through my work over the years, I can say, without any reservation, that there is no better state to live in and no better people.
That is why I can say, to the nation and the world, that the Sanfords do not represent South Carolina and its people. Though the Sanford mess has saddened me in how it makes my home look to the rest of the world, I am proud to be from South Carolina because I know what South Carolina truly is. Though South Carolina has its problems, there is no place I would rather be or no people I would rather live around.