Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Stem Cells: The Battleground of the Republican Civil War

It's interesting to see that after years of seeing moderate Republicans cower in front of the far right, it's nice to see that more and more are fighting back.

The Washington Post has a worthy article about Richard Mahoney, the former CEO of Monsanto and lifelong Republican. He is for stem cell research and made at how some current leaders in the GOP have come out against stem cells.

What's interesting is that the story talks about how stem cell research is the one area where rifts in the GOP show. Here is a money quote:

The battle between Mahoney and his cohort of old-school Republicans -- typified by the business elite and the country club crowd -- and the new guard -- typified by rural and suburban social conservatives in the vast swath between the state's two major metropolitan areas -- underscores the emerging schism in the party.

Much in the same way that free trade splinters the Democratic Party, stem cell research exposes ideological cracks in the GOP. Those cracks are giving Democrats hope of regaining power in states such as Missouri that have trended Republican of late.

If MTV were trying to highlight the issue, it could do a "Celebrity Death Match" between two of Missouri's favorite sons: socially moderate former senator and U.N. ambassador John Danforth and socially conservative former senator and U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft.

What is heartening is that unlike other moderates, Mahoney has no intentions of leaving the party. He says:

He didn't want to talk details, but he said he's working with a group of business and academic leaders to get an initiative on the ballot in Missouri next year to explicitly allow public and private funding of stem cell research.

And he warned me not to interpret this as a sign that he was through with his party.

"What was I supposed to do last year, vote for Kerry?" said Mahoney, joking that he might have been the only person in his native Massachusetts to vote for Richard Nixon. "I don't think so. ... No, I'm a Republican. But I don't have to work hard for them or give them my money, either."

It's good to see someone who is working to bring the party back to the sensible center. It does give me hope.


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