According to PoliticMo, Todd Akin kicked off his campaigning today by drawing comparisons between “two Americas”:
“One of the things that propelled me to take a look at running for the United States Senate was predominantly that question of what America we’re going to have, and I believe 2012 was a hinge,” he said. “One is what you see now. We have steered a course that is going to take us to something like Greece.”
The other, Akin said, “is limited government so people can get jobs, and more American energy … less federal government, [so] there would be more freedom.”
Never mind that the U.S. situation isn’t remotely like that of Greece – or the even more obscure question of what kind of “hinge” 2012 represents – I think that Akin should be wary of the two Americas imagery which was most notably used by John Edwards. By bringing it up, he also suggests the most appealing aspect of Edwards populist appeal.
No matter what you might think of Edwards, he played the two Americas trope like a master when he introduced it during his stint as John Kerry’s vice-presidential running mate and later during his aborted 2008 campaign. Compare Edwards imagery to Akin’s verbally awkward and logically incoherent formulations above:
I have spent my life fighting for the kind of people I grew up with. For two decades, I stood with kids and families against big HMOs and big insurance companies. When I got to the Senate, I fought those same fights against the Washington lobbyists and for causes like the Patients’ Bill of Rights. I stand here tonight ready to work with you and John [Kerry] to make America stronger. And we have much work to do, because the truth is, we still live in a country where there are two different Americas… [applause] one, for all of those people who have lived the American dream and don’t have to worry, and another for most Americans, everybody else who struggle to make ends meet every single day. It doesn’t have to be that way…
I know which conception of the “two Americas” stirs me the most, and I bet that I know which resonates most with lots of middle and working class voters. Edwards may have been a fool in his personal life, but he expressed a generous and courageous view of public life when he spoke of the two Americas. If Akin, however, continues to play on the theme in the ham-fisted way above, it’ll do little but emphasize the mean-mindedness of the ideology he serves and the dishonest way that he does so. Akin just doesn’t have the intellectual or verbal skills to appropriate Edwards masterful imagery, but is only capable of besmirching its shine.
Last sentence edited for clarity.