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What does "no Ameican liberal's idea of a model" mean in the sentence "South Carolina, no American liberal’s idea of a model, has pursued a notably enlightened reform to the sentencing of non-violent offenders"?

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    It means that no American liberal would consider South Carolina as a good example to follow. – michael.hor257k Oct 31 '18 at 9:59
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    @michael.hor257k Yes, generally, but the sentence is saying that the SC government's reform is a notable exception that American liberals would support. – BoldBen Oct 31 '18 at 10:31
  • @BoldBen Yes, of course. That's the entire point here. Still, the quoted snippet means what I said. – michael.hor257k Oct 31 '18 at 10:39
  • "Liberal", of course, is referring to ones political leanings, in this case preferring more social liberties. (But the terminology is complicated overall.) – Hot Licks Oct 31 '18 at 11:50
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    The overall idea here is similar to the saying even a stopped clock is right twice a day. That is, even South Carolina can do something right once in a while. – Roger Sinasohn Oct 31 '18 at 22:27
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From the idiom be a/the model of (something) TFD

To be an ideal example or version of something.

In this case:

Surprisingly, South Carolina, not American liberal’s idea of a model state, has pursued a notably enlightened reform to the sentencing of non-violent offenders"

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