Tuesday, November 09, 2004


In an email sent to various people, including the Center for American Progress, my dad asked “How many of us have spent 10 minutes or an hour trying to list 10 positive things we most wish for in our world in 20 years -- the big picture, overall dreams and vision?”

That got me thinking, and before a week goes by, I thought I'd post some sketches of ideas. This isn't exhaustive. I welcome comments, and I expect this is a theme I'll refer to frequently.

In a lot of the writing I've done since the election, I've talked about stem cells and a sense of the future. I think that progressives should talk about the future a lot. A vision of a new world is something we have that conservatives lack. Stem cell research that cures disease is one obvious and easy place to talk about it, but with a tiny bit of effort, it can work wonders.

Bill Clinton did wonders with this approach. The “national conversation about race” looked like touchy-feely window-dressing from a purely policy oriented perspective, but it asked the essential question: What is the future of race relations in America? Clinton's aggressive promotion of the Internet and of new technology let him take credit for the economic expansion that he presided over. Everything in the 90s was about the bright future we were heading towards.

Having the frame of being a party of the future makes it possible to paint Republicans as a party of the past. In the '96 election, Clinton talked about a bridge to the future, and stuck Dole with a bridge to the past. He fumbled with that for a while, and ultimately it stuck.

I think embryonic stem cell research is an area where this frame can be beautifully exploited. Paint conservatives as so obsessed with their ideology that they would brick off the door to future medical advances. Get people comfortable with the distinction between a ball of 8 cells and a swaddling baby. Get them to see merit in scientific research. Point out that there are reasonable compromises on where life begins. Use that to dull the edge of the anti-abortion sword.

More later. These are just thoughts, and much will be expanded upon.