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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Time Travel: As Easy As Ousting Todd Akin

I know I've been going on about the whole Akin thing. And (I think) this might actually be the last thing I have to say on the matter. This situation, as I have pointed out more than once, is bigger than Congressman Akin's remarks. It is bigger than Congressman Akin. It goes to the heart of our political process.

Before the 17th Amendment was passed, United States Senators were chosen by legislators within the state they were to represent. There was no primary, and the only influence the general population had was in their choice of state legislators. If they chose poorly in local elections, they would get lousy US Senators. The 17th Amendment changed all that, changing Senate elections to a popular vote basis just like US Representative elections.

Why is this relevant now? The people who are calling for Congressman Akin to step aside are asking us to undo nearly 100 years of the American political process. If Akin does drop out of the Missouri Senate race, there will not be another vote to determine the nominee. The nomination will not automatically go to the second place finisher from the August 7 primary election. Instead, the new nominee will be selected by the Missouri Republican Committee. They can, if they choose, select a nominee who ran in the primary - they can select the last place finisher if they so choose. But they are not limited to the primary field. They are free to choose anyone they like, and the people will have no recourse.

But let's forget for just one second that forcing Akin out is setting Missouri back a century. Anyone advocating that Akin step down is voluntarily negating the entire primary process, declaring the irrelevance of every citizen who went out and voted in the primary, and saying that it's okay and even advisable for the GOP to replace candidates by mandate when they feel that the electorate is too stupid to do so properly.

And for the record, if you complained during the Presidential primary about being forced in to Romney as the "inevitable candidate," stop talking now. If you have ever complained about the notion that at every election you have no choice but to vote for the "lesser of two evils," hold your tongue. Because if you are also calling for the resignation of Todd Akin, you are informing the GOP that your principles - and the American political process - are for sale.

9 comments:

  1. Amen. Once again--you hit the nail on the head. :) Thanks!!

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  2. If Mr Akin were to step down (which, sadly, it doesn't seem like he'll do) the 17th amendment would be still be in full force. Missouri would not be set back a century.

    You keep WAY understating what a horrible thing Mr. Akin did. It was not a simple "misstatement." It was not an innocent gaffe. Even the congressman finally acknowledged (in an interview on Huckabee) that what he did was a "very, very serious error."

    What a terrible position for a Missouri voter to be in, to have to choose between Ms McCaskill on the one hand and a man who demonstrated such horrendous judgement on the other. Some of us want a better choice for Missouri's voters.

    So, Mr Akin has the right to stay in the race if he wants. And people have the right (and, I'd say, an obligation if they feel morally compelled to do so) to call on Mr Akin to step down they want. All that doesn't undermine the political process. It's a healthy part of it.

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  3. You're entitled to an opinion. You're welcome to post it here. You're not going to convince me that you're right. And having a candidate hand-selected by a committee because they've determined that the electorate has failed absolutely undermines the process. If you're unhappy with the nominee, vote for someone else. If you're unhappy once he's elected, then petition for a recall and pray you have enough support. But to support the systematic removal of nominees you happen to disagree with outside of the electoral process is to say that there's not enough Alinsky in American politics.

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  4. Except the committee wouldn't determine that the electorate has failed. And Mr Akin would not be systematically removed. No one (except for you) is talking about that.

    What would happen is that the electorate, exercising their constitutional freedom of expression, would convince the candidate that he is wrong (or, at least that he couldn't win). The candidate would then choose to drop out, after which he'll be replaced by another conservative.

    How is that any less democratic than trying to recall Akin after the unlikely event that he's elected?

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  5. You have someone in mind then? And keep in mind, it's the MO GOP's choice, not yours. And in case you hadn't noticed, the MO GOP isn't conservative -they're moderate on their best day. And they're likely to pick a moderate, or at least someone they can control. Missouri picked Akin. A recall requires Missouri voters to petition for his removal. The people currently calling for his resignation are mostly out of state.

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  6. Out of the last five Republican senators from Missouri, how many would you guess called on Mr Akin to step down?

    The answer: All of them. Every one. This isn't just some out-of-state thing:

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/political-fix/blunt-former-missouri-senators-press-akin-to-quit/article_d0ed3034-ebb3-11e1-85e6-0019bb30f31a.html

    I totally agree: It would be much better for the people to get to choose their party nominee. But if Mr Akin had stepped down, then voters would at least need to approve of his replacement. Following your suggestion, if Mr Akin is recalled his immediate replacement would be appointed by the governor without ANY voter input. Which means, if Gov Nixon gets reelected, Akin's replacement would likely be a Democrat! Again, how is that better?

    The whole thing is now moot, since Mr Akin refused to step down. Many conservatives will find themselves understandably unable to vote for him in November. Of course, they can't vote for Ms McCaskill either. So they've effectively been shut out of the process.

    It's all completely sad. And Mr Akin is completely to blame.

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    1. As a conservative, who voted for Todd Akin in the primary, I will stand by him in the general election. I have met him, his parents, his children and grandchildren. I found him to be a down-to-earth gentleman with strong family ties and conservative views. I was taken aback by his comments. But that does not change my opinion of him. He still has my vote.

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  7. BTW, you asked me for a name. I'd say John Brunner -- not at all because he's my personal choice but because he won second place in the primary.

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  8. This won't be decided by past MO lawmakers. It will be decided by Akin and then the MO GOP.

    The voters will get no say in his replacement if he steps down. The GOP has complete control of the replacement.

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