Sunday, November 04, 2012
McCaskill vs. Akin: Missouri votes for the 21st Century or the 19th
One of the myths that has surrounded the U. S. Senate race in the state of Missouri is that incumbent Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, was responsible for selecting her general election opponent, Congressman Todd Akin.
It is easy to understand why people hold that belief. The McCaskill campaign paid for advertising that effectively told Republican voters that Akin was "too conservative" for Missouri, fully realizing that many of those who watched the ad would leap on that red meat like a pack of starving dogs.
What the McCaskill camp did was to buy some insurance- make no doubt about it, Missouri Republicans are the ones who are responsible for Todd Akin's name being on the general election ballot.
There were not enough country club Republicans to place businessman John Brunner, a political novice, in the winner's circle, so it came down to which of the two candidates trying to appeal to the tea party acolytes, Akin or former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman would be deemed the most conservative and there has always been a substantial number of Republicans who do not trust that Mrs. Steelman (Sarah Palin endorsement notwithstanding) is a true believer and believe she just may be an opportunist.
So though the primary election was close, barring some type of major event, it was always a good guess that Todd Akin was going to be Claire McCaskill's opponent in the November election.
How sad is that for the Missouri Republican Party?
Whether you agreed with their stances on issues, the Missouri Republican Party has always fielded candidates who drew respect, and sometimes admiration, both inside and outside the state. As a former reporter, I can assert that I always appreciated interviews with John Danforth and Kit Bond, two men who answered the questions you asked and did not try to twist the answers into whatever the talking point was on that particular day. Though I can't say the same about John Ashcroft, Ashcroft's brand of conservatism would probably be considered too "liberal" by the people who are guiding the GOP in 2012.
We did not have to hide our heads in shame because these men were nominated for the Senate or because they were elected to serve. A close examination of the voting record of Claire McCaskill would show that she could easily be compared to Danforth or Bond, not on all issues obviously, but on the vast majority of issues that are of major concern to Missourians- and I do not mean the fake issues that are used to whip voters into a frenzy every day by the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys.
The turning point in this election, obviously, was the August 19 interview with St. Louis reporter Charles Jaco in which Akin made his notorious "legitimate rape" remarks. While that statement, and it was not a gaffe, but a statement of Akin's genuine beliefs, was the one that drew all of the attention, that interview revealed far more about the beliefs of Todd Akin, many things that are just as far out, but were lost in the avalanche that hit once the "legitimate rape" remark went viral.
In that interview, Akin said the following:
-The states should pay for school lunches.
-The states should control voting rights, not the federal government. Akin made it clear he thought civil rights and voting rights legislation had gone too far.
-We need to make sure everyone has a right to vote once "every living person."
-We should return to having the states rather than popular vote elect U. S. senators.
-The federal government should not be in the student loan business. Akin doubled down on his comment comparing student loans to a Stage 3 cancer.
In an audio that I posted Saturday on my blog, Akin made it absolutely clear that public education is also on his target list. On the audio, which was released by the McCaskill campaign, Akin clearly lets it be known that he believes the Bible says "government shouldn't educate the children."
What has happened to the state of Missouri, once considered to be a place where common sense was prevalent, when a Todd Akin can receive nearly half of the vote and may, though it is looking unlikely, may emerge a winner on Tuesday?
Missouri is still the Show-Me State. I just wish the state's Republicans would show me that are more interested in looking toward the future and not yearning for a past where women and minorities were kept in their place and where only people with money could afford to eat a school lunch or receive a college education.
Tuesday's election is not just a choice between Claire McCaskill and Todd Akin, but a choice between the 21st Century and the 19th.