Akin's Conservatism Isn't the Same as Reagan's; Politics; Former Legislative Intern, Now a Professor, Remembers How Akin Equated Government Programs with Stealing; OTHER VIEWS

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I served with Ronald Reagan, I knew Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine: Todd Akin, you're no Ronald Reagan. OK, none of that is actually true. However, when I was young, it seemed that President Reagan was part of my family.

When he fired the air traffic controllers and faced down the Soviets, my grandparents, Mom, aunts and uncles delighted as if their own blood had done so.

My relatives were Reaganites well before "Bedtime for Bonzo." Liberals delight in mentioning that 1951 movie starring the future president. To conservative southwest Missourians, it was just neat to watch a young Gipper on the silver screen. He was just like us; we hadn't become more conservative; it was the coastal elites who had "tuned in, turned on and dropped out." As for my family, we were Mississippi transplants and so Southern we thought the Ozarks experienced harsh winters. Reagan might have called the state, "Mizz- oo-r-ee" instead of "Mizz-oo-r-ah" but he was one of us.

As all good things must do, the Reagan era ended. By 1994, I was an undergraduate history and political science major at Southwest Missouri State. Every legislative session, my alma mater sent a cadre of interns to work in the Legislature. From January to May 1994, I lived, breathed and worked state politics. Maybe it was my grandfather's love for Reagan, or perhaps I just enjoy the theater of it all, but whatever the cause - I had fallen in love with politics.

Admittedly, I had strayed from my family's political path: I voted for Bill Clinton. A proud centrist Democrat, I went to Jefferson City expecting to encounter principled yet pragmatic conservatives - just like my grandfather or my Uncle Reagan. Instead, I met Todd Akin.

During the 1994 legislative session, then-state Rep. Akin hosted a weekly luncheon for interns. Every Wednesday, Akin would feed us chicken fingers and discuss conservative philosophy and politics. Keep in mind, I hail from a family that still supported Prohibition, opposed the lottery and thought Bill Clinton lunched with the antichrist. In terms of experiential education, I thought I possessed a Ph.D. in all things conservative. That was until I attended Congressman Akin's weekly symposiums.

At these gatherings, I discovered that any and all government programs amounted to stealing. Akin explained the thuggery and thievery at the heart of modern government. …