I live in a middle class neighborhood in West St. Louis county. Most of my neighbors send their children to the local public schools; indeed, many of them chose to live here because of the reputation of those schools. A fair-sized number of the people in the neighborhood are seniors who rely on Medicare and Social Security. These folks, of whom a majority seem to consider themselves moderate, common-sense Republicans, quite regularly vote to send the extreme, right-wing GOPer Todd Akin to Washington as the House Representative for our 2nd district.
I wonder if Akin’s responses to a questionnaire circulated by Liberty Central, a right-wing, agitprop group headed by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Curt Justice Clarence Thomas, might not give some of them a wake-up call. If Akin’s more hardcore views were to become widely known and their implications openly discussed, he might not enjoy as much support. Specifically, Akin responded to this question with an unequivocal “No”:
3. Should Congress to use the “general welfare” clause (Art. I, Sec. 8) to regulate aspects of our lives, such as agriculture and education, that are traditionally under the authority of the private sector, state and local government.
Unlike some of the respondents who hedged their answers, Akin is firm in his rejection of a federal government role in public welfare. In response to a question which asked whether be believed that “government is eroding the Founder’s vision of faith, family, and culture,” Akin wrote that:
I believe the purpose of government is to protect God-given rights. Beyond that it is an intrusion and an overreach.
Since Akin recently declared that he believes that we should leave health care for the uninsured to “charity,” we can deduce that his concept of “God-given” rights is somewhat restricted. More importantly for my neighbors, though, is the fact that, as Think Progress observes, his hard-line, “tenther” position “would make essential programs like Medicare and Title I education funds difficult or impossible to administer.” Life in the comfortable West County suburbs, with their good schools, and contented, prosperous seniors, could get just a little rougher if we were to revert to our hardscrabble, pre-New Deal, American roots.
Steve Benen remarked that he wondered “if the electorate fully appreciates what’s become of Republicans’ ideology in recent years,” and links to an article on TPM that enumerates a few of the harmful changes to our way of life that Akin’s position would entail. I am sure that most of the knee-jerk Republicans that I meet out here in West County might be just a little discombobulated if they knew what kind of radical they have been voting for.
It seems to be a commonplace among St. Louis area Democrats that Todd Akin got himself elected by downplaying his Christian dominionist leanings in the past. Now that the Tea Party is providing cover, many GOP pols are daring to dust off some of the more discredited views that they’ve kept hidden away from their larger public. Akin is no exception; from a Christian stealth fighter his image is morphing into that of an anti-government zealot who would willingly destroy the social welfare staples that have propped up the middle class throughout the second half of the 20th century.
Editorial note: Second paragraph edited for clarity.