Election 2012 is over. Although Todd Akin (R-MO) and Richard Mourdock (R-IN) advanced in the General Election for the US Senate, they lost over stray remarks over abortion. Nevertheless, they deserve our recognition for their fiscal conservatism, even if their poorly phrased comments pointed out the divergent views of the GOP's stance on abortion.
In his infamous interview, before uttering the incredulous "legitimate rape" remark, Akin outlined a policy of "optimizing life." In the cases of tubal pregnancy, he did not hesitate to support an emergency abortion. He also applauded our military in the Middle East and our peace officers on the East Coast, who risk their to save wounded and handicapped individuals. As for Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, he never suggested rape is "sometimes God's will". "God takes the worst actions of man and by His grace transforms good out of it" -- that was the gist of Mourdock's misquote. As a specific example, James Robison of "Life Today" was conceived in rape, yet he has done masterful good for the world through his television ministry. Sadly, Twitter, Facebook, and Internet-media took the childish "telephone game" to the extreme and distorted his statement beyond recognition.
As an example of the GOP infighting that ensued after the election, Firebrand Columnist Ann Coulter mercilessly attacked Akin and Mourdock, lambasting them for preening for votes from the religious right to stake out their "100% pro-life credentials". Ironically, liberal-leaning Gwen Ifill of PBS's "News Hour" championed Mourdock and Akin for standing by their pro-life views. Rather than deeming them extreme, she esteemed their integrity, a principled view of life and the role of government in preserving life. Those views did not receive the proper vetting in the media. Unfortunately, their decisions rested on sound bytes instead of a sound mind toward the entirely of their remarks.
Despite measured respect from Ifill, Akin and Mourdock lost their elections. Conspiracy theories about the Republican Party's losses in the Senate center on their misstatements. The national party should also evaluate its primary election protocols, as well. Primary voters want the most conservative candidate, but the national conference wants an "electable" one, too. Denouncing Mourdock and Akin for their views will not resolve this problem. Furthermore, the party platform still struggles to demarcate the difference between state-sanctioned crimes and personal 'sin'. "National Review" William F. Buckley argued that just because a society does not outlaw something, that does mean a community approves of the behavior. Buckley argued for the decriminalization of controlled substances, as did the California House Rep David Dreier of San Dimas, California. The Party can be pro-life without being anti-choice, but the party platform has not yet changed.
Putting aside the stray comments about abortion, Akin and Mourdock's open criticism of the government's role in setting prices, deficit spending, and national debt also alarmed voters. Akin indicted the federal student loan program as a "cancer of socialism" because government subsidies caused college tuition to rise, and along with classes and student debt. Mourdock resisted the 2009 auto bailouts because much of the bailout money came out of the pension funds from Indiana's teachers and police officers. Those secured bond-holders were denied the protection which they were entitled to in federal bankruptcy court. These legal "niceties" may not fit on a Twitter feed, yet Mourdock refused to forget them. His uncompromising stance not to budge unless Congress enacted real spending cuts (unfortunately) offended Indiana voters, too:
"One side has said 'Let's spend $10 billion we don't have" while the other side has said, 'Let's spend $5 billion we don't have." Both sides then compromise on spending $7.5 billion."
Mourdock rejected that kind of "bipartisanship". Of course, headlines with "Mourdock wants cuts" or "Akin cares about entry level workers" do not sell papers or spur website views.
The two candidates' attention to fiscal reform also set them up for stringent opposition, but they should not be shamed for refusing to ignore the elephant of big spending and national debt standing in the middle of Congress.
Instead of talking about rape, the life of the mother, and the decision to terminate a life, Akin and Mourdock needed to focus on the "rape" of government spending which is hurting mothers and the unborn for years to come. They were selling this message pretty well to their conservative constituencies. Small wonder that their "Big Government" Democratic challengers pounced on stray remarks rather than offer a differing economic policy, since they never had one.
Aside from their poor responses on social views, Akin and Mourdock should be honored for their commitment to fiscal discipline at all costs. Let's hope that the GOP accents the fiscal message while moderating their message on social issues in elections to come.