While it’s hyperbolic to pin the result of the entire election on a single ignorant statement by a back bench congressman seeking a senate seat, it is clear that the trajectory of the debate, both publicly and in the minds of swing voters has been altered. Democrats, who’ve been itching for a social issues election all year, stand ready to exploit the issue. The Democratic National Convention might unofficially rename one night, The National War on Women Symposium.
Congressman Akin’s refusal to exit the race despite calls to do so by all corners of the GOP tent shows a blind ambition, unbridled by electoral party politics. A candidate for high office on a major party ticket must take party goals into consideration when adversity erupts. If remaining tactful during the course of a 3 month general election campaign proved impossible for Akin, odds are that a six year senate term would do unnecessary damage to the Republican brand.
Surely there will be attack ads up and down the ticket in far flung races that tie Republican candidates to Akin’s social conservatism. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee in waiting will be forced, on multiple occasions to answer questions on the subject. Even with major issues to be sorted through; the economic recovery that isn’t; Israel openly plotting a strategic strike on Iran; and the looming sequestration, it’s not hard to imagine a Todd Akin question at a presidential debate.
This election will be a watershed moment in history no matter the result. For the good of the party and for the good of the nation, Todd Akin’s candidacy must be shunned by both establishment and the grassroots of the GOP. Practically speaking, Akin has become the embodiment of the caricature that Democrats affix to conservatives. He is the “flat earth” conservative Barack Obama laments on campaign stops. Akin represents the straw man in “The War on Women” Democrats have been trying to paint Republicans as since early this year. Candidates in particular should run, not walk, from now until November 6, away from Todd Akin’s candidacy for senate, lest they be painted with the same brush.