Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The post below highlights what I think is a running subtext in the Amendment 2 debate.

In the last few elections cycles, Missouri has turned from a "swing" state to a "red" state. We're home to Branson, the entertainment capital of the RedState world. We've elected a thirthysomething year old Republican governor from Springfield who is the son of the House Majority Whip. Out most prominent Democratic politician, Dick Gephardt, retired. We went for Bush twice. We overwhelmingly approved a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. We elected a Democratic governor and senator back in 2000, but that probably had more to do with a halo effect from Mel Carnahan's untimely death than anything else.

A lot of people aren't happy about this, including some who supported one or more of the developments listed above. Instead of being a battleground in presidential races, we're a reliable source of electoral votes for the Republican candidates. Sure, we might have liked Bush better than Kerry, and we weren't excited about re-defining marriage, but that doesn't mean we wanted to become East (What's the Matter With) Kansas.

This anxiety is espcecially prevalent in the metropolitan areas around St. Louis and Kansas City. There's a sense that outstate politicians are leading us down a path to irrelevance. Hence, "Jefferson City politicians" which cues this distrust of outstate politicians.

This is probably best personified by Amendment 2's most prominent supporter, former Senator Jack Danforth. In addition to promoting Amendment 2, Mr. Danforth has written a lot about how religious people have gone too far, and need to rein themselves back. He supports this amendment while maintaining his stance as "pro-life." He reflects the mood of the state -- we've lurched too far in the socially conservative direction; let's back up.

Enter Amemdnment 2. Here, Missourians have an opportunity to amend their Constitution to protect controversial research from those representatives from tiny towns who get their voting orders from the church pastors. Nobody could say we're in lock-step with the Religious Right then, could they? We'll have shown our openness to technology, and proven we're not some sort of red-state backwater, indistinguishable from any number of other rectangular states. We'd matter, damnit!

This is part of why celebrity appeals are such a feature. The message seems to be -- This is an opportunity for Missouri to prove to us cool Hollywood people that you're not a bunch of slack-jawed cold-hearted religious fanatics, but technologically savvy compassionate cosomopoltian people we'd like to associate with.

And while I'm here, thank you, Rush, for turning an interesting conversation about what type of ads and manipulations are in bonunds into a conversation about what a jerk you (an by extension, all those who oppose embryonic research) are. Really, it's a big help. It's not like we're in the middle of a race in which the other side is claiming a monopoly on compassionm and are eager to demonstrate how only a cold-hearted ignoramus could oppose them. Thanks a heap.

I bring this up, but don't know how to effectively counter it, But I think it's something it's important to be aware of. It's bigger than this particular issue, bigger than whether or not the amendment itself is deceptive, bigger than whether it prohibits or protects "cloning," depending on who's defining the terms. For many Missourians, this is a referendum for their own independence from the socially conservative red state pigeonhole they find themselves in, and it's not going to be easy to get them to vote "no."
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