Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Taking them at their word

The backers of Amendment 2 are fond of saying that all Amendment 2 does (its 2000 words notwithstanding) is ensure that Missourains will have the same access to cures that other Americans have.

To do this, it removes from the Missouri legislature the power to restrict embryonic research. It essentially permanently punts these ethical questions to the federal government -- you know, the folks who brought us the Iraq War and the Katrina disaster relief.

Isn't this an odd thing for a state to do? To amend the constitution to explicitly strip itself of power?

Are the proponents of Amendment 2 so distrustful of the democratic process?

Speaking of amendments numbered 2, imagine if instead of stripping the state legislature of its power to regulate research, the amendment stripped the state government of its power to restrict firearms. If it essentially said, if a weapon is legal under federal law, it must be legal in Missouri, and there's not a darn thing the state legislature could do about it. (To make the parallel complete, imagine that it included a ban of "assault weapons," then defined assault weapons to only include, say, bazookas, and then the proponents went on and on about how the measure explicitly bans assault weapons.)

It seems to me that this will lead to even more political polarization. If amendments like this pass, then as an opposer of embryonic research, my only recourse is to attempt to influence the federal government. So if it's midterm election time, and I'm not thrilled with the Republicans, and my choice is between a Republican incumbent who opposes funding embryonic research and a Democrat who supports it. It seems that I have one more reason to not consider voting for the Democrat. Essentially, proponent of the Amendment want to limit debate of this issue to two high-stakes venues -- the debate over this amendment, and federal restrictions. Is it surprising that in this environment, people tend to dig in their heels on their own side?
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