Wednesday, March 30, 2005

RINO complains

John C. Danforth says in the NYT By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party.

Christian activists, eager to take credit for recent electoral successes, would not be likely to concede that Republican adoption of their political agenda is merely the natural convergence of conservative religious and political values. Correctly, they would see a causal relationship between the activism of the churches and the responsiveness of Republican politicians. In turn, pragmatic Republicans would agree that motivating Christian conservatives has contributed to their successes.

High-profile Republican efforts to prolong the life of Ms. Schiavo, including departures from Republican principles like approving Congressional involvement in private decisions and empowering a federal court to overrule a state court, can rightfully be interpreted as yielding to the pressure of religious power blocs.

In my state, Missouri, Republicans in the General Assembly have advanced legislation to criminalize even stem cell research in which the cells are artificially produced in petri dishes and will never be transplanted into the human uterus. They argue that such cells are human life that must be protected, by threat of criminal prosecution, from promising research on diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and juvenile diabetes.

It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law.

Barbara O'Brien blogs there is an enormous difference between allowing your religious beliefs to inform your judgments -- that slavery is wrong, for example -- and enacting purely sectarian religious doctrine into legislation, like banning stem cell research. The only reason to ban stem cell research is that it violates the religious dogmas of some Christians. If you don't happen to believe that human DNA is, literally, sacred, then the stem cell ban makes absolutely no sense. Slavery, on the other hand, is wrong on a humanist basis as well as a religious basis. And, the fact is, in the antebellum South a lot of slave owners defended the peculiar institution by citing their religious beliefs.

I don't know what the Missouri legislature is working on, but as far as I know, the only thing the Republican party has advocated is not having the government fund research on stem lines other than the ones that existed when Bush was the first President to allow government funding of any stem cell research. There is NO federal restriction on privately funded research on stem cells.

Since you recognize that stem cell research violates the religious beliefs of some Christians, I would hope that you would agree that they should not be forced to pay for such research.

Hugh Hewitt blogs He (Senator Danforth) decries a "fixation on a religious agenda," and declares grandly that "as a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around."

Perhaps that is why super-majoritarian opinion on marriage got rolled, Senator, because you and your colleagues were asleep at the wheel. Perhaps parts of today's agenda seems to you so "religious," because courts in California, New York and Massachusetts have unilaterally decreed a massive rewrite of the country's shared tradition on marriage, obliging those who want to defend marriage as it has existed for all of the country's history to advocate for a Constitutional amendment.

I agree completely. It would be one thing if the legislatures in California, New York, or Massachusetts had acted, but to have a small handful of judges seek to change the law is WRONG

Hugh also says Perhaps people of faith see in the Schiavo case a move towards euthanasia --the article in today's Times on Vermont's new bid to allow "doctors to prescribe suicide drugs for terminally ill patients who request them" certainly underscores what is sure to be the next act in the end-of-life drama.

At least the effort in Vermont is being made in the legislature, not in the Judicial branch. If a majority of the Vermont legislature sees fit to pass legislation like Oregon did, and if the Governor signs it, that is fine with me. But I would not want the Vermont Supreme Court to try to change the law.

Steve Clemons blogs John Bolton is just a symptom of a larger problem which Danforth highlights -- but progressives and moderates need to know that they can win these battles. But one has to start somewhere -- and John Bolton's candidacy is the right issue on which to push back.

You are wrong. The UN needs to make some drastic changes, and John Bolton is the man we need there to see those changes are made. If the UN does not change, then we need to get out of the UN, and we need to get the UN out of the USA.

Dale Franks blogs Danforth makes a valid point. The republicans have morphed into large-government conservatives. They've accepted, at least tacitly, the Democratic idea that the purpose of government is to Do Something about things that concern them. And the things that concern Republican politicians today tend to be the issues that the religious Right is concerned about. Hence, the push for a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage, or state efforts to ban all stem-cell research.

In doing so, they have abandoned much of what made the republican party attractive to the electorate in the first place: The idea that government wasn't the solution, it was the problem; that you are better qualified to make the rules for your own life than a politician or bureaucrat thousands of miles away in Washington DC; that you deserve to keep more of your own money, rather than sending it in to the government.

Republicans may come to find out that, no matter how powerful the Religious Right may be as a party caucus, it isn't enough to comprise an electoral majority.

I agree the Republican Party needs to return to supporting smaller government, and I would like to see them return to supporting states rights. I like the idea of constitutional ammendments to prevent Activist Judges from changing the law when there is not enough demand for the law change to get the legislature to pass it.

Pejman Yousefzadeh: blogs Of course, the latter editorial is precisely what one would expect from the New York Times. But as a larger point, these dueling editorials reveal how to get ahead in American politics: Portray yourself as a curmudgeon loyal to your party, but somehow outside of the party system. Then let people praise you for speaking truth to power. Danforth does that with policy. Bradley does it with process.

The NYT is so far to the left that the only way to get printed in their pages is to attack the Republican Party

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