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Politics of redemption and forgiveness

Politics of redemption and forgiveness

Mark Sanford’s election victory in South Carolina may bode well for former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who also left office amid scandal and is pondering a return to politics. Robert Jones writes at the Washington Post:

Since 2009, when the former governor of South Carolina admitted that his absences from the state to allegedly hike the Appalachian Trail were, in fact, trips to Argentina to carry on an extramarital affair, Sanford’s political death has been all but sealed. Sanford, however, handily won the Republican primary for the House of Representatives seat he held in the 1990s before he was elected governor. And his victory in Tuesday’s South Carolina special general election shows just how far political redemption can stretch.

Sanford’s campaign also has implications for former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned from Congress in 2011 amid a sexting scandal, and is now reportedly considering a candidacy in this year’s New York City mayoral election. …

A survey conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in June 2011, in the midst of the scandal that ended with Weiner’s resignation, shows that Sanford’s path to redemption among his Republican constituents was much steeper than Weiner’s will be, if he chooses to run. … Sanford, running for reelection in a deeply conservative district, had a higher bar to clear when it came to voters’ expectations about integrity and sexual morality. Neither Republicans nor Democrats give politicians a free pass when it comes to lying or infidelity, but more than 8-in-10 (82 percent) Republicans agree that an elected official who lies to cover up an immoral sexual act should resign, compared to less than two-thirds (64 percent) of Democrats. Similarly, 7-in-10 (70 percent) Republicans agree that an elected official who cheats on his wife should resign, compared to less than 6-in-10 (59 percent) Democrats.

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