Of all of the races yesterday, the most interesting for me was the Missouri Senate race. Senator Claire McCaskill was one of the least popular members of the Senate and a virtual guarantee for defeat until Rep. Todd Akin delivered victory from the jaws of defeat. Akin’s infamous rape remarks made him completely toxic to the entire nation and the GOP leadership quickly called for his withdrawal from the race. Akin treated the suggestion as absurd and allowed two deadlines to pass that would have allowed his party to repair the damage that he caused. At one time, politicians would put the interests of their party and their country before their own. However, we live in a different time and Akin is the face of the times: egotistical, selfish, and extremist. Linda MacMahon in Connecticut cut the same intensely egotistical image: spending $100 million of her own money in two unsuccessful efforts to make herself a Senator despite a fairly toxic personality and image associated with professional wrestling. Despite the sound defeat in the last election, MacMahon spent even more of her own money as the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment to secure a second defeat. The question for the GOP is whether the disaster this election will cause anyone in the party to consider the eradication of moderates in their party and the loss of what we once called “Rockefeller Republicans.”
In the end, Akin appears to have been unable to even break 40 percent of the vote.
Had Akin withdrawn, the GOP would have likely secured the seat in Missouri. Not only Akin but the entire Tea Party worked last night to the great benefit for the Democrats — alienating moderate voters and securing wins across the country.
Akin will be left to history as a sad clownish figure who refused to accept the obvious reality that his own comments and extremist views destroyed any chance for election. MacMahon will fill another footnote on the amount of money someone is willing to spend in pursuit of egotism. Notably, MacMahon never appeared to have any particular vision or idea or cause — she just wanted to be a Senator and thought she had the money to guarantee it like some choreographed WWF bout. They are not the only such figures in this election.
The question is how we end up with such caricatured candidates in national elections and the overall low quality of politicians in this country. I have long blamed the monopoly of the two major parties on our politics. I still hold that view. However, Akin also represents a sad cultural reality today. It is not just the loss of moderation in politics but a loss of a sense of personal integrity and responsibility. Akin immediately blamed others and refused to stand aside for the benefit of his state and party. He is for me the face of what is wrong with our politics: an anti-intellectual extremist who ultimately shows little sense of duty or calling beyond himself.
Source: USA Today