Many of Todd Akin’s constituents have been trying for months to meet with their Representative to speak about his recent votes to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Neither Todd nor his staff have responded to these requests. Finally, dozens of Congressman Akin’s constituents and their community groups decided to make it easy for him. They invited him to a town hall to meet with his constituents on Wednesday, August 24th at 4 p.m. The location of the Town Hall was 1 ½ blocks from his Ballwin office. The timing of the event coincided with the Congressional recess, a time that Todd spends in Missouri. The invitation was hand delivered to ensure that it was received.
When I heard about the Town Hall, I decided to go. I was one of the clergy that visited his office in June when he made the statement that at the heart of Liberalism is a hatred for God. He was not at his office that day and we’ve been trying to meet with him since. Unfortunately, his front man Steve Taylor insists on certain conditions to meet with him. No media, being the main one. The media should not be told when we’re visiting with him nor are they to be told of the substance of our conversation. Our answer has been no. He began this in the media. He used a backhanded comment about a huge group of people to make political points with his base. This conversation needs to remain public. Akin refuses to budge and that’s that.
So here was, hopefully, another chance to meet with my Representative.
Unfortunately, rather than respond to the request with graciousness and respect, Rep. Akin released a statement calling the gathering a “protest” and justified his decision to vote for cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. He also called the police, who showed up at the Town Hall with instructions for those gathered should they choose to walk the 1 ½ blocks to Rep. Akin’s office.
Todd Akin’s gathered constituents, many of whom were seniors, found his office surrounded by police cars and yellow police tape. We were forced to stand on a lawn outside Rep. Akin’s office in 100F heat while we waited to see if he would meet with us. The police grew concerned about the safety of many gathered and offered their air conditioned cars for anyone who needed to escape the heat.
Rep. Akin’s response to the respectful request to meet with his constituents is shameful and disturbing. Rather than respond with dignity and respect to those he represents, he chose to treat us as an enemy and to turn us away.
Rep. Akin is very vocal about his Christian faith. He should remember that the heart of the Gospel is generosity and hospitality. Jesus never turned away anyone who came to him. He welcomed them with respect. When Rep. Akin claims the Christian faith as his own, this is the standard that he is accountable to.
It is this same standard that leads many people of faith to challenge his votes to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. To be a person of faith means to take responsibility for the well-being of our fellow brothers and sisters. We are all responsible for the wellbeing of the most vulnerable – children, seniors, the disabled, and the poor. When we make cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, we are turning our backs on that responsibility. Many of us feel quite strongly that Akin is betraying his own faith when he votes to cut these programs.
Rather than respond to his constituents’ request with generosity and hospitality, Akin chose humiliation, and his actions endangered those who came to see him. Akin has aspirations to become a Missouri Senator. This is not the kind of man we should entrust with the privilege and responsibility of serving us.
He has the right to disagree with his constituents and we have the right to disagree with him. We did our part when we asked him respecfully to meet with us. He should have done his part, and respectfully accepted the invitation.