Sunday, October 29, 2006

Republicans and Democrats

When I was driving across Missouri a couple of weeks ago I was struck by the number of signs I saw for Jim Talent (R). He's the incumbent who is in a dead heat with his challenger McCaskill.

I wasn't that knowledgeable about either of them, although people I know who live in Missouri have spoken highly of McCaskill for the last couple of years.

It's about stem cell research. Missouri is trying to become the first state to protect stem cell research. Not surprisingly, the Republican is against it and the Democrat is for it. Actually, Talent says he's for stem cell research and against human cloning - but he voted with the president to throw out fertility clinic embryos instead of using them, so in reality, he's against stem cell research. Actions ALWAYS tell the real story - words are just words.

The great irony is that neither of them will really have squat to say about stem cell research in Missouri, other than their own votes. It's an initiative that people will be voting on at the same time they're voting on this race. It's a great example of how one issue can polarize a race. It may or may not be an important issue. In this case I would contend it is important, but so often it's a nothing issue like abortion.

Again, let me state for those of you who haven't caught on to the obvious - if Republicans really wanted to outlaw abortion it would be done. You've had control of the white house and the congress for years now. If anyone really wanted it done, it would be done. Have you noticed that no one talks about it except at election time? That's so they can get you to vote for them on this ONE issue, without paying any attention to the fact that they may be idiots otherwise. I'm not saying all Republican candidates are idiots, but some are, (just as some democrats are), and they get voted into office based on ONE issue and then we're all stuck with them. It's foolish to vote for anyone based on one issue - we live in a very complex society.

I was impressed this morning to hear a St. Louis voter say that she was voting for McCaskill, even though she thought Talent had done a decent job, and her decision had nothing to do with stem cell research. I'm encouraged to see thoughtful voters - even if they're not in agreement with my views.

Michael J. Fox's ad has increased support for stem cell research by 5%, but there's no word yet if Patricia Heaton's ad against it had any effect. Of course, Rush Limbaugh saying Fox was "faking it" in his ad no doubt garnered more attention for it than it would have had otherwise.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say I support stem cell research. I think we have to be forward thinking and look for new advances in medicine. This is, by far, the most promising thing we have on the horizon and affects a large number of diseases - and probably more we aren't yet aware of. The idea that stem cell research leads to human cloning is just ludicrous. Please, read a little bit about the science involved - that's so ridiculous it's not even worth the effort it would take for me to type more words about it.

This race has reminded me of something I've noticed before. It makes no sense to me why it would be this way, but I've noticed it multiple times.

There's a view of the world that is "progressive," meaning that we want to move ahead, try new things, be experimental, are open to new concepts. Then there's a view of the world that is about maintaining the status quo and eschewing anything we don't know everything there is to know about it. More and more democrats are the former and republicans the latter. That makes no sense to me. A political affiliation is generally about HOW to do something, not about WHAT to do. But anymore it is about the most basic concept - are we moving forward or are we staying where we are?

I've noticed this on a ton of issues, stem cell research being just one of them. Looking at other structures for health care, innovative ideas for day care, giving people who live together rights (and I don't mean just gay people), etc. etc. etc. The list goes on and on but over the last few decades it always seems to be republicans arguing for why we should not do something different, and democrats pushing for the new.

Maybe this is why the republican base is the wealthy in general - if you've got the money, you don't want change - you want to maintain your position. If you're wealthy and healthy, with great health insurance, a job where you can never be laid off, and no concern for the environment I can understand why you'd vote Republican. If you're not all of those things I cannot understand why you would want the average republican candidate in office. Why would you not want to look at some innovative change?

This country could never have been founded by a group of today's republicans. They would not have wanted to venture into something new that we didn't know enough about. They would never have broken free of British rule. They would never have written the constitution. Although they may have gotten on the ships to come here for religious freedom, they would never have created a situation where every man could choose his own religion. Still, 200 years plus later, they're trying to shake that very basic foundation of our country.

It is going to be an interesting election.

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