Legislators Way to the Right of Voters in Missouri & South Dakota
by howardpark, Wed May 31, 2006 at 03:30:24 PM EDT
In November Missourians will vote on a ballot initiative to reverse the state legislature's ban on stem cell research and South Dakotans will vote on overturning an abortion ban passed by legislators. I know more about Missouri than South Dakota but in both cases I suspect that legislators are to the right of the state as a whole. November will be the test.
For years, the Missouri legislature has been lurching rightward. Missouri is tilting red, but the state is one of the most politically balanced in the country. Ever since the 1970's -- in Missouri and other states -- the passion to run for the state legislature has been with Republicans, especially those motivated by social issues. It takes a lot of motivation and energy to run for the legislature and most of those qualities have defined social wingnuts. Whatever else they lack, they have had plenty of fire (and brimstone too!). It's rare to see a flaming moderate get started in politics though a lot of politicians end up in the middle.
Tom Frank's "What The Matter With Kansas" was a great exposition of the political transformation of his state. Missouri and South Dakota are two places that have a lot in common with Kansas. In both states it is up to the voters, direct democracy, to rein in the wingnuts in Jefferson City and Pierre. On the Internet there will probably be a lot more written about high profile federal races such as Casey vs. Santorum and Lamont vs. Lieberman as opposed to the Missouri stem cell vote and the South Dakota abortion vote. Fair enough. For a clue about the direction of the country, however, I'll be looking first to these two Midwestern states.