The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

August 27, 2012

Anson Burlingame: Akin marginalizes tea party’s efforts

JOPLIN, Mo. — Todd Akin dealt himself a death blow with his remarks on Sunday related to abortion in the case of rape.

Now it seems that the funeral will not be held until Nov. 6 after the Missouri Senate campaign winner is known. Akin announced late on Tuesday that he will remain in the race.

His decision places the entire GOP campaign at risk. Akin committed political suicide on Sunday. By deciding to remain in the race for the Senate, he may now make the GOP act like a Jonestown mob, with all being confronted with drinking the same Kool-Aid.

My guess, as well as my hope, is that Akin will be very lucky to win 40 percent of the statewide vote in his senatorial campaign bid, but maybe less.

The reason for my view is because Akin crossed a line by injecting his deeply held religious convictions into national politics. I have no objection to his faith or personal beliefs, or yours for that matter, as a matter of private beliefs. But America is structured on the basis of separation of church and state. We also have freedom of religion, privately held in my view. Muslim Brotherhood politicians have injected faith into the government of Egypt. Akin is trying to do the same with his faith in America it seems to me.

He did not say it directly, but my guess is that Akin believes God will intervene in cases of rape and impose his will on the outcome. As a personal belief there is absolutely nothing wrong with such faith at the personal level. But why make that a fundamental basis for a political campaign where personal faith should be private? Why attempt to impose such faith on all Americans?

People with strong personal faith related to abortion will, of course, continue to support Akin, and they have every right and reason to do so on that single issue. But face it, evangelical tea party members don’t have the political numbers necessary to make such views stick in a big election where a lot more is at stake -- like war, peace, fiscal cliffs, etc.

The tea party must have non-tea party conservative and independent support to have a chance of winning major national elections. Akin has cratered such support in my view, and the GOP at large may well suffer great damage as a result of Akin remaining in the race.

Akin has marginalized the tea party. The fundamental political message of limited federal government as established in our Constitution has now been consumed by a message of personal faith that should have nothing to do with how we govern ourselves.

Akin appears to have the arrogance to attempt to impose that faith on other Americans. That is not separation of church and state.

Anson Burlingame lives in Joplin.

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