The Femo: McCaskill’s Merits

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by Sarah Rubin

Millions of people celebrated, cheered, and breathed huge sighs of relief Tuesday night when Sen. Claire McCaskill decidedly defeated notorious GOP extremist Rep. Todd Akin in the Missouri Senate race, 54.7 percent to 39.2 percent.

Akin has been the unfortunate source of widespread discussion, controversy, and outrage since his comments about “legitimate rape” this summer. His outwardly offensive and uninformed views on rape first lost him the support of the Republican Party and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and then the majority of Missourian voters on Election Day. As a candidate who refused to support equal pay for equal work, federal school lunch programs, and even minimum wage, his views proved much too extreme for even the most right-leaning rural counties of Missouri.

There is no question that Todd Akin was decidedly bad for women and for Missouri. But it is time we turn our attention towards the merits of his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill. In many circles, McCaskill has only been known as the obvious alternative to a backwards and grossly out-of-touch Akin. Post-election media outlets have been reporting that McCaskill “blocked” or “prevented” Akin from winning the Senate race, but are slow to acknowledge McCaskill’s own worth as a second-term senator.

When McCaskill was first elected to the Senate in 2006, she made her mark as the first female Senator from Missouri in history. Since then, she has proved herself as a pro-choice legislator, advocating for greater access to contraceptives and defending de-funding attempts of Planned Parenthood. She has been an outspoken advocate and co-sponsor of legislation working to close the gender pay gap. She also acknowledges that women’s employment and health issues are and will continue to be important economic issues.

Senator McCaskill was a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, a decision that generated both controversy and opposition amongst many of her conservative constituents. Her support of Medicare and Social Security as they stand now, and strong defense against Republican attempts to destroy them, has its roots in Missouri’s increasingly aging population.

Above all, Senator McCaskill is a moderate. She is an advocate for fiscal responsibility and openly opposes legislative earmarks. In 2011, she co-sponsored bipartisan legislation banning earmarks with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in an effort to reduce government spending and the funding of special programs and projects. She was also a supporter of the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and has opposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations on power plants due to Missouri’s reliance on coal-powered electricity.

According to the National Journal, McCaskill has been ranked every year for the past six years among the 10 most moderate members of the Senate and has frequently voted against the Democratic Party on a number of issues.

With a visible and worrisome increase in our country’s polarization, Sen. McCaskill’s centrism and willingness to step outside of her party is both rare and admirable. Her last six years in office show that she is dedicated to the needs of her constituents and has supported legislation that best suits Missouri, not her party.

Today, many Americans are still rejoicing over the fact that Akin lost. But now it’s time to appreciate that McCaskill won.

 

photo by KOMUnews