A few years ago we saw a raft of anti-technology stuff... I notice now that we're seeing more from the other side....
This confluence -- together with poll data and other recent indicators -- suggests to me that Joan Vennochi is giving the Democrats good advice on stem cells:Democrats should also do with stem cell research what Republicans did with gay marriage: present the issue for a vote on every possible state ballot. Republican Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader from Tennessee, just demonstrated the power of the issue. Frist's surprise endorsement of a bill that would approve federal funds for new lines of stem cells enraged the right. But Frist knows the political center supports it, and the political center is where a presidential contender wants to be. In stem cell research, Democrats, for once, have an issue that fires up their base and cuts to the center, across diverse demographic groups.
I think that's right. This is an issue where the GOP is tied to its base, and where swing voters go the other way. Interestingly, there's plenty of opportunity for the GOP to weaken this assault by supporting other kinds of life-extending and life-improving research -- into aging, for example -- to blunt efforts to tar it as the party of Luddites and fundamentalists. Will they be smart enough to do that?
I agree that stem cell research is good politics. But the problem is that state-level initiatives are likely to be bad policy: states will end up competing against each other, throwing good money after bad to support research that is still in its early stages. California's initiative has already been plagued with controversy due to a lack of transparency and accountability in the way it will disburse $3 billion in taxpayer funds. The potential for capture by the stem cell industry is high. (And initiatives are a lousy way to make policy in general.)
The upshot is that we need a good national stem cell policy, not a patchwork of state policies.