In Which I Shamefully Admit That I Voted For Todd Akin

August 27, 2012

Yeah…120820_todd_akin_ap_3281

…Sorry ’bout that.

You’ve may have heard.  Todd Akin, running for Missouri Senate, made some incredibly dubious claims about women’s bodies, and now he’s on a quest to hijack American politics and stick his thumb in everyone’s eye.

To my shame, I admit I’m one of the quarter million Missourians who, just a couple of weeks ago, thought they supported Todd Akin.

It was an honest mistake. For real.

I want to take full responsibility for my part in this debacle. In true American political spirit, I hereby accept 1 / 250,000 of the blame.

But I’d also like to say a few words in my defense, and a few words of caution to the rest of you who are weighing the candidates in your states and the country.

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Voting Booth

This whole mess started on Monday, August 6.

I was listening to the news on the ride home when a report came on that projected voter turnout in my state at about 18%. This, of course illustrates that even in our boiling political climate, laziness and apathy win out.

It was at this point I, as an exceptionally well-informed and involved American citizen, said to myself, “Huh…There’s an election tomorrow?”

I usually do try to go vote, and since only 18% of my fellow Missourians would be joining me, it would be an especially good chance to feel a smug sense of unwarranted superiority about my political knowledge and civic participation. I pulled on my special voting shoes and sweatband and warmed up my bubble-filling muscles.

The problem was I didn’t even know who was on the ballot! I did some quick research the next morning before going to the polls. Some races, I didn’t vote in. Some I did. Some candidates were locally grown people who I wanted to vote for, others I was barely familiar with.

Todd Akin was definitely the latter category.

Politics Get Personal

The last week has unfolded fast.

It’s not unusual for a politician to be the center of attention and scandal. Sometimes, it’s kind of fun to watch from a distance. “Ha! Look at that chump!” you say, as you point fingers and laugh as the “other” party deals with another embarrassment.

But it gets personal when the politician is from your state.

And it gets really personal when you voted for the guy who’s making an ass of himself.  It turns out, I voted for a horse who refuses to be beaten to death, and it just shows his poor character.

But it gets really personal when you realize that you are implicated, because you voted for the guy. I’ve read the Twitter and blog comments, people from other states saying that I, the Missouri voter, must be a fringe, sick, Fox News watching right-winger, a teabagger, a lunatic, a dangerously backwards-thinking, misogynist, ignorant hick.  As if every one of Anthony Weiner’s voters are Twitter-pervs, or all of Clinton’s supporters cheated on their wives…

Well, I’m not any of those things. I’m not a teabagger or a lunatic. I have a basic grasp of human reproduction. I’m not fully loyal to either party.  And Fox News drives me as crazy as CNN and MSNBC.

You Can Fool Some of the People Some of the Time

Now, before you judge me, let me say this:

It could happen to you.

The candidates you vote for half-heartedly (or maybe whole-heartedly) could be an embarrassment. The country could scorn you as their one-time supporter.

And like most Americans, I made my voting choices based almost solely on the messages that the candidates wanted me to get. I read their pamphlets and listened to their soundbytes. I took them at their word. I put a checkmark on my mental checklist next to “Doesn’t make crazy statements about rape and then start a holy war to hijack American politics.”

But the edited, paraphrased, focus-grouped pamphlets and teleprompter speeches never reveal a politician’s character. You have to listen when they’re speaking off the cuff. Watch how they react when they’re backed into a corner and have to make tough choices.

We got that chance last week with Todd Akin.  I have never felt buyers’ remorse so incredibly quickly with a politician.

Todd Akin will have no effect on my choice for President, or any other office. But I’ll be vetting my choices a lot more closely this November. I’ll be trying to look beyond the prepared remarks and campaign slogans. I hope you do this same.

Ever had buyer’s remorse with the people you voted for? Have you ever voted for a scandal maker instead of a lawmaker?

31 responses to In Which I Shamefully Admit That I Voted For Todd Akin

  1. Lmao! Alright, you’re forgiven *this* time… 😉

  2. I voted for him too, and the same reason you did – I didn’t do my research until the day before. We both learned a lesson, but I’m remembering that if he gets voted into office, I’m still to honor him, according to God’s Word.

  3. Hey, I forgive you :)

    The thing is, I’m pretty sure *everybody* has done this. Usually we do our research for the “big” offices (president and governor, maybe senators), but when it comes to all the other people we have to vote for, what can you do? It’s not like you’re going to have a lot of information available when you’re trying to vote for the county coroner and such. I have to admit that I’ve done a lot of just reading over those questionairres that the League of Women Voters publish and picking all the people that don’t sound completely psycho.

  4. My first ever vote for President was Al Gore in the primary waaaaaay back when he wasn’t a wacko. And yes, if you read up on him, he was considered very conservative for a Democrat back in the day.

  5. Okayy, so does this mean you will vote for McCaskill later on? I’m thinking, what a quandry. Vote for a guy who is a total sexist pig and may make policy based on bad science or vote for some chick who would literally fight for the “right” of Planned Parenthood to slice and dice young women to death via abortion. It’s not me making this up; it’s on her website under the “women” tab.

    Our choices really suck!! I’m in the same district with you. God Save America and help us all. :/

    • That is exactly what I am trying to figure out. It’s a no-win situation. Akin has proven that he is not willing to work with others, and he’s certainly not popular with others in the party. He may turn out to be a runaway maverick, even if elected.

  6. Don’t sweat it, we never know the real person, the one under the political make up. I have discovered that our own city is full of elected officials who are dumber then trees! But guess why? Because the smart people didn’t run.

    On the other hand maybe we should forgive Todd Akin too. He believed some old theory that used to be kicked around prolife camps. I have heard and read the same stuff and we people tend to repeat as fact what fits our worldview! (I am referring to the body being shut down by rape thing. As far as the “legitimate rape” comment…that was plain stupid.) Just because Todd Akin is a politician doesn’t mean that his thinking is any more evolved than anyone elses. I have heard too many politicians say the dumbest things. Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reelection, but lets give this guy a break unless you have never said something that you regretted later.

  7. We’ve all done it. The hardest part, as you mentioned in the post, is finding some unfiltered information about the candidates. Politics has certainly tried to refine the marketing, positioning and spin machines. Like you, I try to look for those unscripted moments when the candidate is a little off balance. What do they say/do off the cuff? What is their gut reaction? Those brief glimpses of reality can be so telling.

  8. I voted for Jimmy Carter. Yes, that was a long time ago, but nice guys can have terrible policies for running a country, which we all found out the hard way.

    I think we are finding that out , again.

  9. I voted independent when GW Bush ran against Kerry. Does that count? I never care for the two main candidates (or Coke and Pepsi as I call them). The point is, either way you’re choosing a product that’s unhealthy. So, I vote for an off brand that’s not better but at least less evil than the other two or don’t vote. Aren’t both throwing my vote away?

    And I researched the best candidate, Huntsman, before he dropped out. Reason just doesn’t last in our politics.

    • I don’t know if you’re throwing away your vote or just protesting. I no longer consider myself one party or the other, but since the primaries only have two choices of ballots, I decide which has the most people I want to vote for.

    • I’m fairly certain that if Kerry had been elected and had a chance to take us in virtually the same direction as Obama, that you’d reconsider the effectiveness of your vote for Bush.

      Bush wasn’t perfect, by any means, but he was not a leftist with policies out to destroy the basic American ideal.

      • Steve–

        Maybe I’m kind of being devil’s advocate here, but why throw around the term “leftist” as though it’s some kind of insult?

        —–You see, I consider myself pretty solidly moderate, as do a lot of people, I’m sure. And as such, I don’t really agree that one side of the political spectrum is inhierently evil.

        —–I mean, without “leftists”, we wouldn’t have things like universal suffrage, civil rights, workplace safety standards, child labor laws, etc. (As a female, I kind of like being able to do stuff like vote and manage my own money without having my husband cosign everything.) But, without “rightists” to hold some of the bureaucracy in check we’d probably be even more in hock than we are right now.

        —–So, I think we need them both, to a certain extent–we just need more people that are not so enamoured with their own party that they can’t work with anyone across the aisle. Unfortunately, I think that’s kind of what we’re stuck with right now.

        ——So, forgive me if I find it kind of useless to bemoan the notion of having a “leftist” in charge–personally, I don’t think “rightists” getting their way all the time is going to be that much of an improvement.

      • I wasn’t talking about voting for Kerry, and I’m not sure how you got to that. Maybe my soda analogy broke down. That’s the reason I couldn’t vote for him, either. He wasn’t better, but why can’t we wrap our heads around this: defining our choices in negatives (at least he’s not liberal, or whatever) is not way to vote and counterproductive at best. Until we have positive choices to vote for, the rest of us will give up on voting altogether or write in cartoon characters. Either way, it’s a joke.

  10. What’s done is done. Now look to the future. Todd Akin is committed to continue his run for the Senate. I beg the voters of Missouri to find a candidate and do a write-in campaign for the next Senator of Missouri. In my blog I suggested Kit Bond. Don’t let this opportunity to gain a seat in the US Senate slip away because of the egotistic blow-hard trying to show off in front of the press. C’mon Missouri, Show Me you can turn this debacle around.

  11. Now you know how your neighbors in Illinois have felt for the last few decades as we keep sending politicians of both parties to jail.

  12. Question to all you Missourian (and everyone else out to tar & feather Akin):
    We know he made a really bad comment. Do we know anything else about him? Has he done anything good for the state? Anything?
    I sure wouldn’t want people following me around recording my every word…
    I don’t know beans about the guy, but I did read the context of his statement, and his public response/apology.
    Putting my tar & feathers back in the closet. I’ll save them for the presidential election.;)

  13. Sorry to go off topic a bit, but reading some other posts got me thinking about this–

    Here’s my take on politics–

    My parents are conservatives. However, they aren’t uneducated. They aren’t bigots. They aren’t mysogynistic–actually, they managed to raise four fairly independant and well-adjusted daughters. I think their conservatism is rooted in multiple beliefs–my mom homeschooled and believes strongly in parents being able to make their own educational choices, for one thing. They’re also very generous, do a ton of volunteering and giving to a variety of outlets that help the poor (which they feel driven to do given their Christian faith)–they just happen to think that government assistance is actually kind of demeaning and think that individuals could do a better job of helping the less fortunate. And there’s nothing wrong with any of that.

    On the other side, my in-laws are liberals. They are also incredibly generous–my MIL is taking care of an elderly former colleague of theirs who has no other family. They devote a lot of their time to a lot of the local stuff that needs attention–the museums, the public schools and the theatre. They also raised my husband, so I think they were very good parents as well :). The thing is, they also don’t fit a lot of the stereotypes that get thrown at liberals–they don’t “hate America” (they are quite patriotic, in fact), they aren’t hippies that want handouts, and they are hardly socialists. And, believe it or not, like my parents, they’re Christians and their political beliefs are rooted in their Christian faith as well. They’ve got a very strong sense of civic duty–knowing who your neighbors are and helping them any way you can–and that’s where they think their taxes should go. There’s nothing wrong with any of that either.

    What really gets my goat, particularly on the internets, is when people get tied up in this “us vs. them” mentality, stereotyping and belittling people on the other side. It’s stupid, counterproductive and, in my opinion, not exactly Christian.

    Our country needs liberals AND conservatives and everyone in between. They ALL have something to offer. And (suprise, suprise!) there’s a good chance that the “liberal commies” or “redneck conservatives” that you gripe about so much are actually your neighbors. Yeah, those. What was it Jesus said to do to neighbors?

    I’d like to think that someday, maybe we’ll all evolve (yeah, I said it!) beyond our political tribes, recognize that we need to quit making up enemies that don’t exist, and start treating our fellow human beings (even internet trolls that don’t agree with us) like fellow human beings. That’s not a lot to ask, right?

  14. Everyone needs forgiveness, the kindness of a Savior. Let mercy fall on you… :-D.

    My first vote ever was for Ross Perot. My boyfriend at the time blamed me for Bill Clinton becoming president because I was “one of THOSE” people who prevented the elder Bush from being re-elected. The problem is, the candidate who seems to have rational thoughts, usually gets very little support from the public, who wants bread and circuses rather than honesty.

    In terms of determining character, one thing I noticed in comparing flyers is how one candidate chose an unflattering picture of his opponent on the flyer and a flattering picture of himself. His opponent’s flyer had decent pictures of both of them. Then I found out that the first candidate had already served in Congress years earlier and voluntarily stepped down to fulfill his promise to limit his term in office only to break that promise in this election, going for the more “prestigious” Senate position, after being a lobbiest in Congresss. Things that make you go “hmmmm….”

    To the person who says that we have to vote FOR someone, my thought is that most of the time I feel like I am voting for the lesser of two evils. In my state, a certain long-running sheriff who has made national attention is running unopposed in the primary. It may mean that I vote Democratic just to get him out of power because I am convinced that part of the problem is that we have people who have been in power too long and are addicted to the power and perks rather than wanting to serve the people.

    I

  15. I voted for him and I’m not the least bit ashamed I voted for him.

    Why?

    At the time, he seemed like the best candidate. I’m not going to apologize for voting for the candidate I felt was best at the time.

    Yeah, he really messed up after the election and we’re starting to see true colors. You know what? Every other politician out there has things they’re hiding as well.

    Akin should drop out. He won’t, but he should. And that’s why I won’t be voting in the Senate race this fall because there’s no way I can support Claire McCaskill.

  16. I’ve been in the same boat before. Glad to see the generally positive comments.

  17. My Dad (uber-arch conservative) confessed to me a few years ago that when he was a hippie college student, he routinely voted Socialist Party, including voting for the Socialist candidate for President in the early seventies (he confessed to me this news when the same candidate became Ralph Nader’s running mate a few years ago). He apparently was very ashamed of this.

    So, as a college student who pretended to be a hippie, I thought it would be funny to vote for a fringe candidate during the Governor primary a few years back. I’m pretty sure he was a white supremacists….and he touted it on his HTML-based website with a 1994-era waving flag .gif at the top. Obviously he lost, but it was somewhat frightening that he received 6,000 votes–note his name was Martin “mad dog” Lindsteadt on the ballot…so that was pretty cool.

    So long story short…I’m with you (and I’m glad I avoided your call to vote in that election!!!)