In 2009 this phrase entered the English metaphorical lexicon as a synonym for having an extra-marital affair. The Republican Governor of South Carolina, Mark Stanford disappeared from office for a suspicious amount of time and no one could fully account for his absence. His staff at one point, under mounting pressure, finally explained that the governor was “hiking the Appalachian Trail” and could not be reached. Shortly thereafter it was revealed that he was in Argentina cavorting with his sexy paramour. Thus an apt metaphor for “cheating” came into our language. Stanford had to resign from the office and submit to the humiliation of the press, especially the late-night comedians who pilloried him for his hypocrisy. Being an outspoken supporter of “family values” and moral propriety, his hypocrisy was apparent to all. He was a broken man.
But now he is back in Congress as an outspoken Republican critic of Donald Trump while most of his party continues to cower before the “sound and fury” of Mr. Trump, all of which “signifies nothing.” Sanford describes himself as a “dead man walking,” noting how that he lost everything and knows how it feels and so now has nothing to lose. Circumstances of life, I like to call it that “bitch reality, slapped him in the face and he managed to find the courage to accept the loss of face and emerge with a newly found humility.
Disillusionment is painful. It is particularly painful for those who are outspoken proponents of moral virtue and political correctness. Such hypocrisy now abounds in the Republican Party and they have unwittingly elected as President the very epitome of dishonesty, insincerity, and moral depravity. They now have the opportunity to use the words of the cartoon character Pogo and humbly lament, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Sanford declares he now has nothing to lose. And he doesn’t. The Republican Party needs to find that same humility and simply admit, “We made a mistake,” uttering the words that Trump is incapable of uttering. And, furthermore, the entirety of our country needs to find this humility as Trump’s election is a reflection of the American soul and not merely the soul of those who voted for him. We now have a learning opportunity before us. Let’s see what happens. Usually in these circumstances the wisdom of W. H. Auden is relevant, “And Truth met him, and held out her hand. But he clung in panic to his tall belief and shrank away like an ill-treated child.”
(If you want to see more details about Govenor Sanford’s fall from power and rebirth, see the following link: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/mark-sanford-profile-214791)