The “Culture Wars”

by F.

What is the message of the election for science versus superstition? It’s not clear, but there does seem to some reason for hope. Ideology did not, it appears, determine outcomes in many cases. Take South Dakota, which split the baby when it came to abortion:

In South Dakota, voters repealed an almost total state ban on abortions, but they also elected a Republican governor by a large margin. Opposition to the abortion ban – passed by the state legislature as a direct challenge to the landmark Supreme Court abortion ruling Roe v Wade – appears to have come from libertarian Republicans as well as liberal Democrats.

Another example is stem cell research:

Missouri voters narrowly approved a ballot measure on stem cell research. But party politics is no reliable guide on that issue either: Republicans are divided, with prominent conservatives such as Nancy Reagan in favour. Stem cell research is a very personal matter. Those with an Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s sufferer in their immediate universe are likely to support it, whatever party card they carry.

This is exactly right. Abortion is easy to oppose: many opponents won’t ever need to have one. But stem cells? That’s tough, because pretty soon Uncle Henry is going to be drooling and forgetting that joke you told him five minutes ago. So you have a choice: preserve a dead fetus or preserve Uncle Henry. The “moral” decision is not longer costless, and that’s when morality goes out the window.

The quotes come from the FT.