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The Republican Party has become the antivaccine party

Contrary to the stereotype of antivaccinationists as hippy-dippy left wing granola crunchers, in actuality antivaccine pseudoscience is the pseudoscience is the pseudoscience that knows no political boundaries. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that both parties are equivalent. Unfortunately, thanks to the co-opting of conservative activism by antivaxers, the Republican Party in 2018 has become the antivaccine party.

Yesterday, I discussed how a potentially promising program in Arizona to educate parents seeking personal belief exemptions was nixed after antivaxers complained to the Governor’s Regulatory Review Commission. In the course of my discussion, I noted a couple of things. One is something that I’ve been saying for a long time, specifically that neither support for vaccines nor antivaccine sentiment is a province of the left or the right. Contrary to the stereotype that antivaxers are crunchy, hippy-dippy granola crunching liberals, in reality they come from all over the political spectrum, with roughly equal prevalence on the left and the right. That’s not to say that there isn’t a difference between left and right in terms of antivaccine sentiment. Although there are roughly equal proportions of people on the left and the right who express fear and loathing of vaccines and believe that they cause autism, there’s a difference in how that belief is channeled, a difference that has evolved over the last decade or so. Basically, as I first noted nearly four years ago during the very early stages of the 2016 Republican Primary race, the Republican Party has become the party of pandering to antivaccinationists. In other words, 2015 was the year when it became undeniable that antivaccine Republicans are a thing, at least to me. Yes, there are left wingers pandering to antivaxers, like Jill Stein, but they are out of power and have almost no influence on government policy.

Sadly, it seems to have taken nearly that four years for the mainstream media to take notice, but I’m starting to see signs that they finally are. For instance, in the Daily Beast yesterday, I saw this:

The anti-vaxxer disease is now a Republican epidemic.

What was once the provenance of a few fringe weirdos—mostly on the loony left—has now migrated into the mainstream. At least three Republican candidates for governor—in Oklahoma, Oregon, and Connecticut—are now open skeptics of requiring vaccinations for school kids.

OK, it’s not a perfect article. That whole narrative about how antivaccine views were once primarily the province of the “loony left” was never true. It was always at best a massive exaggeration and at worse a myth, but it’s a common narrative parroted by mainstream journalists who’ve suddenly come to the jarring (to them) realization that large segments of the Republican base have embraced antivaccine views. Clearly they weren’t paying attention, because this is nothing new. There’s long been a right wing/libertarian strain of antivaccinationism going back to General Bert Stubblebine III’s Natural Solutions Foundation and earlier. More recently, but still years before the “coming out” of the antivaccine-pandering to antivaccine fringe of the Republican Party as the mainstream face of the party. Indeed, as I’ve pointed out before, many of the the antivaccine people and groups whom I monitor tend to be anything but liberal politically. For example, The Canary Party, a rabidly antivaccine group that pushes the idea that toxins in vaccines are responsible for autism and all sorts of health issues and that autism “biomed” quackery is the way to cure vaccine injury teamed up with the East Bay Tea Party to oppose vaccine mandates in California. Moreover, the Canary Party was known for sucking up to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), with one of its major financial backers, Jennifer Larson, contributing a lot of money to Issa’s campaign (indirectly, of course) in order to buy influence and win a hearing by his committee examining autism and focused on vaccines as one potential cause. Fortunately, Issa’s hearing, which took place in 2012, was a bust. (Notice that we’re back to 2012 already, and I haven’t even gotten started.)

Of course, it’s all gotten worse, as so much of our politics has gotten worse over the last three years. There used to be a broad and strong bipartisan consensus that school vaccine mandates are a good thing to protect children from infectious diseases. That consensus is definitely fraying. The reason is that antivaxers have been very successful at portraying school vaccine mandates as unacceptable infringements of “freedom” and “parental rights” and efforts to eliminate personal belief exemptions (as California did) or to make them harder to obtain (as Michigan did) as overreach by an overweening government out to control parental rights. As Rand Paul once said, “The state doesn’t own the children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom.” That seems to be the attitude behind the confluence of antivaccine views and conservative anti-regulation politics that produces antivaccine Republicans.

Like so many things that were once fringe in the Republican Party but are now mainstream, antivaccine views (or at least pandering to antivaccine Republicans and conservatives) are now mainstream. Indeed, multiple Republican candidates for governor are now openly attacking school vaccine mandates. First, Connecticut:

As the debate around the efficacy of vaccines ramps up again, a video taken over the summer has surfaced showing Connecticut’s GOP candidate for governor Bob Stefanowski questioning the need for childhood vaccines.

The video, obtained by NBC Connecticut, is about two minutes long and doesn’t provide any context for what was said before Stefanowski made his comments.

Someone in the audience questioned Stefanowski about Connecticut’s laws that require students attending public schools to be up to date on their vaccinations.

“Do you think the state should dictate [immunizations] or should local [Boards of Education] handle that?” the audience member asked.

According to Stefanowski, he doesn’t the reason why vaccines should be mandated for public school students.

“I think it depends on the vaccination,” Stefanowski replies in the video. “We shouldn’t be dumping a lot of drugs into kids for no reason.”

This is what I like to refer to as “antivaccine dogwhistles.” While Stefanowski tries to portray himself as reasonable by saying he got his children vaccinated, but emphasizing that it should be a “choice” and that the government shouldn’t be able to “force” children to be vaccinated. (Yes, it’s the “forced vaccination” trope, as though jackbooted stormtroopers would come in and forcibly vaccinate your child if you refused to have him vaccinated.) In other words, Stefanowski’s trying to have it both ways. He wants reasonable, pro-vaccine voters not to think he’s an antivaccine wingnut, but he’s telling antivaxers that he’s down with them. That bit about “dumping a lot of drugs into kids for no reason” is a dead giveaway. Is Stefanowski antivaccine? I actually doubt it. He is, however, clearly willing to pander rather blatantly to antivaxers. Why would he do that? It’s obviously because he perceives that that’s where the votes are in 2018.

He’s not alone. In Oregon, I learn:

In Oregon, Dr. Knute Buehler—yes, a physician—said that “parents should have the right to opt out” of vaccinations “for personal beliefs, for religious beliefs or even if they have strong alternative medical beliefs.”

Buehler described the opt-out system as beneficial. “I think that gives people option and choice and that’s the policy I would continue to pursue as Oregon’s governor,” he said.

I really hate it when fellow physicians are this dumb. But, then, Buehler’s running for office, which means that he’s a politician now. In any case, as a result of his statement, physicians in Oregon are pushing back (I can only imagine what Mark Crislip is saying about this guy):

On Monday, leaders of the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians, the Oregon Pediatric Society, and the Oregon Chapter of the American College of Physicians called on Buehler to reverse his position. They noted the American Medical Association, like many other national medical organizations, accept the scientific consensus recommending a full slate of childhood vaccines.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, the favorite in the governor’s race, Kevin Stitt, is an antivaccine Republican:

The Republican nominee for Governor in Oklahoma expressed skepticism of childhood vaccinations in a speech earlier this year, aligning himself with a fringe movement that equates immunization with government overreach.

At an appearance before a conservative political forum this past February, Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt said he personally did not vaccinate some his own kids and opposed legislation that would require vaccinations for children if they wanted to attend public schools.

“I believe in choice,” Stitt said, “And we’ve got six children and we don’t vaccinate, we don’t do vaccinations on all of our children. So we definitely pick and choose which ones we’re gonna do. It’s gotta be up to the parents, we can never mandate that. I think there’s legislation right now that are trying to mandate that to go to public schools, it’s absolutely wrong. My wife was home schooled, I went to public schools, our kids go to Christian school, and that’s back to a parent’s choice.”

“Choice” is another antivaccine dogwhistle, of course. However, Stitt is in another category. Unlike Stefanowski and Buehler, who say they’ve vaccinated their children, Stitt appears to fall into the “selective vaccination” school of antivaxer. Moreover, he clearly wouldn’t have revealed that he didn’t make sure that his children have had all their vaccinations if he didn’t think it would benefit him politically—or at least not hurt him.

I’m guessing he knows his voters in Oklahoma. Last year, Senator Ervin Yen (R-Oklahoma City) introduced an SB 277-like bill that would have prohibited nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates. As a result, he was subjected to a racist smear campaign very similar to what Senator Richard Pan, who introduced SB 277 in California:

It’s not just governors’ races, though. I’ve discussed on multiple occasions how in Texas the antivaccine group Texans for Vaccine Choice has become quite politically influential and has basically shut down all efforts to tighten the requirements for personal belief exemptions in Texas or even to improve reporting of how many exemptions have been granted per school. They were even active during Hurricane Harvey. In Texas, antivaccine Republicans are actually primarying Republicans who are too pro-vaccine and sometimes winning:

Lisa Luby Ryan, an interior designer, beat three-term state Representative Jason Villalba in the Republican primary in March, aided by a slew of far-right groups fed up with the moderate-ish incumbent. She’s backed by Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life, and has endorsements from Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick left Ryan off his list of endorsements that included more than 60 other House Republican incumbents and candidates. Ryan has said she supports the “sanctuary cities” ban, which requires local officials to cooperate with federal immigration agents. In explaining her opposition to gun control or even studying gun violence, she said, “My son, who is autistic, was robbed by three black thugs.”

Perhaps Ryan’s most vocal advocate in the primary was Texans for Vaccine Choice, a group of self-identified “mad moms in minivans” fighting for “medical freedom” and “parental consent,” code words for the right to not vaccinate children. The group was created in direct response to a 2015 bill filed by Villalba that would have eliminated non-medical “conscience” exemptions for vaccines at public schools, which have skyrocketed in Texas in the 15 years since they were allowed. (“If we don’t do something quickly, the blood of our children will be on our hands,” Villalba told the Observer earlier this year.)

Flanked by Texans for Vaccine Choice leaders on primary night, Ryan said she couldn’t have won “without my amazing group of moms who believe in the power of family.” Volunteers with the organization block-walked for Ryan during the GOP primary.

Yes, you read that right. Texans for Vaccine Choice and antivaccine Republicans took their revenge on a state representative for trying to pass a Texas version of SB 277 that would eliminate nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates by primarying him and replacing him with a much more conservative candidate backed by antivaxers. Fortunately, there’s hope that Ryan won’t win. As the article notes, House District 114 is in North Dallas and has a more moderate electorate; Hillary Clinton won the district by nearly 9% in 2016.

Of course, in my own state, there are plenty of antivaccine and antivaccine-pandering politicians, including (sadly) my own state representative and state senator. When the crew who made the antivaccine propaganda movie VAXXED came to my state two years ago to promote vaccine “freedom,” they found a receptive audience in far too many of my state legislators, thanks to antivaccine groups like Michigan for Vaccine Choice and its associated PAC.

Back in August a few days before the primary, I attended a local Republican event in which one of the Republican candidates for my Congressional district held an antivaccine roundtable. Antivaccine Republicans from all around southeast Michigan attended. Ironically (and annoyingly) it was my own state representative, Rep. Jeff Noble, who said something that I’ll never forget. He sits on the Michigan House Health Policy Committee and is the cosponsor of a bill to provide “informed consent” about “fetal cells” in vaccines and another bill to eliminate Michigan’s requirement that parents seeking personal belief exemptions attend an educational program and use only a state-sanctioned form to claim the exemption that includes text acknowledging that the parent could be placing her child and other children at risk. During the Q&A, Rep. Noble made a very telling observation. He noted that on the Health Policy Committee it is only Republicans who are willing to listen to “vaccine choice” initiatives, while Democrats won’t even consider them and, as Noble put it, want to “shove vaccines down your throat (or arm).”

I think Noble has a point. Antivaccine views might well be roughly equally prevalent across the political spectrum, but only on the right have these views been co-opted by antivaccine activists to the point where Republican candidates for office see an advantage in pandering to them or, if they happen to be antivaccine Republicans, openly letting their antivaccine freak flag fly high. And I haven’t even mentioned President Donald Trump, who has a decade-long history of spouting antivaccine conspiracy theories; we’re just lucky that he hasn’t done anything substantive about them as President (yet). There’s nothing even remotely similar on the Democratic side or the left. Jill Stein? Sure, she spews left wing antivaccine dog whistles, but she has no influence. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.? He’s antivaccine as hell but he’s not an elected official.

In 2018, there is really only one antivaccine party (even among its educated members), and that’s the Republican Party. Antivaccine views used to be seen only on the fringes of the Republican Party, but they’re rapidly becoming mainstream Republican. As a result, the bipartisan consensus that for so long supported school vaccine mandates is breaking down. If that doesn’t scare you, regardless of whether you’re liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, it should.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

142 replies on “The Republican Party has become the antivaccine party”

well mr orac u are a great warrior indeed reading your stress levels i would say ..mate….its time to have a bex & a hot cup of tea and then a lie down before u blow a poopa valve cant understand y u think this is a win able crusade…does it matter i ask u ..cheers from oz happy bob

If giving advice is the theme, I suggest you lay off the cane toads.

(Yes, I’m just catching up after some looking days.)

It’s only a matter of time before the compulsory pregnancy crowd–which rejects a woman’s choices about her body and fertility–intersects with the anti-vaxx fringe, which is all for “choice.” It’s about ownership, as you say. Parents essentially own their children, in their view, but women are not allowed to own their bodies. The gubmint owns our reproductive organs, and in their bizarro world parents own their children. How they reconcile these views is beyond my feeble comprehension. They want to be purist libertarians as well as fascists.

I want Robert Kennedy, a sleaze even by Kennedy standards, to do something useful with his life beyond spouting this dangerous nonsense. He and Jill Stein–an MD!–need to disappear. Even his environmental group is proving to be a bit shady.

Local hard-core Republican congressman has definitely stuck his finger in the wind and now endorses vaccine “choice.” I was at a town hall meeting this summer and asked him a direct question about measles vaccination. Parents should be given the option of selecting vaccines blah blah predictable talking point blah blah. Are you aware that people can die of measles and immunocompromised people are at huge risk from unvaccinated kids? Next question. Never answered me. Weasel.

Even left-leaning/left-wing anti-vaxx voters in Oregon are willing to vote across party lines for the anti-vaxx Republican gubernatorial candidate. It goes to show how tunnel-visioned anti-vaxxers are but it’s never a good idea to vote on a single issue.

Oy. Knute Buehler is anti-vax? I confess I had to look it up.

I live in WA, so I can’t vote in Oregon, so I didn’t know an awful lot about him except that he runs a lot of TV ads. (The TV news stations we get are out of Portland, so I really only see Oregon ads.) The ads usually show women (almost always women, IIRC, for some reason) talking about how they’ve always voted Democrat, but Kate Brown has “failed Oregon” and anyway, here is a list of Knute Buehler stuff that appeals to liberals. It’s an interesting strategy.

Americans:
Make sure your Personal Immunization Record is up to date before you travel outside of the USA.

Good advice. Otherwise, you may find yourself out of a lot of money when the Immigration desk of your destination puts you back on the plane to go home.

Just because we’ve gone crazy doesn’t mean the rest of the world has.

I think you’re spot on here. A second term for #45 would bring out a lot more of this, including I fear from #45 as well.

The house antivax ninny over at the Imaginary Millions Of Health Freedom Fighters website (Kent H.) is gleefully predicting a “Republican tsunami” in November.

Just a reminder: The Republican Party is the anti-science party, anti-vaccine is just one of the extremely harmful results, e.g., global warming. It is rather frightening and fascinating at the same time that anti-vaxxers who believe thimerosal is responsible for autism, refuted by numerous studies, which has been removed from all vaccines except flu and thimerosal-free flu vaccine is widely available, supported Trump for his “stance” on vaccines and who has recently changed regulations on how much mercury allowed in environment. So, on a daily basis, pregnant women and children will be getting far more mercury than ever from a few vaccines.

Believe it or not, many of us conservatives live and embrace evidence based science such as myself! Stop alienating conservatives from academia! Liberals don’t OWN the virtue of valuing evidence based science…

For what it’s worth, I don’t think anyone here is excoriating all conservatives and implying that SBM/EBM is the sole bastion of liberalism. But the GOP has embraced pseudo-science and incorporated that into much of its agenda. That is not to say all individual conservatives embrace pseudo-science.

Stop alienating conservatives from academia!

This statement makes no sense. If you’re feeling alienated, that’s on you. I am not responsible for your emotions or feelings.

By saying that conservatives are anti-science and such does create a climate for conservatives in academic fields that they’re not welcome or have any ideas worth anything. Your statements make it very clear you think conservatives and Republicans are anti science. Aren’t you on the side that always says words matter??? No, you’re not responsible for my feelings. I can handle that myself. However you ARE responsible for the ideas you convey and are liable for them being challenged.

What particular academic? I just checked, Thomas Stowell is still at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. I just know about him since when my kid was a non-verbal three years old everyone kept sending me his article about “late talking children.”

Not terribly helpful. But it does point out that one should never get medical advice from a economics professor.

Forty years ago I was part of the Young Republicans in college. Hubby and I went to caucuses and even a state Republican conference. But that all changed almost thirty years ago with the church folk coming in to advocate for legislating morality, especially if one lacks a Y-chromosome. Thanks Pat Robertson.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I got a phone call while pregnant with second kid. An enthusiastic young lady wanted my help in making to help stop the proliferation of single parents. My immediate reaction was “How are you going to legislate that parents do not die?”

After she finished stammering, I told her that she had the misfortune to push that odd “family values” stance to a couple who both lost a parent at around age 10/11 years old. Not something I would wish on anyone, but at least one bond is our membership in the “Dead Parents Club.” Because unless you have gone through it yourself, you would never understand.

Since my husband’s mother really needed the survivors benefits from Social Security, we are not at all pleased with the present Republican policy of cruelty to poor folks. Especially if it is a family that lost a parent through death:
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1992-07-29-9203080107-story.html

Unfortunately, while there are unquestionably pro-science Republicans, this is a position which will get you thrown out of the party if you voice it with any conviction. Climate change, vaccination, evolution, racism all are hot issues on the right, and there does not seem to be any tolerance for deviation from the party line. Many many sane conservatives have left the Republican party over it’s dive into loony land. If you are loyal to the loonies, you will probably catch some of the blow-back. That is the nature of society at this time.

I do not subscribe to any political party. I prefer substance, not sound bite chanting like your article. You are definitely no William F. Buckley.

Forty years ago I was part of the Young Republicans in college.

Thirty-five years ago, a friend and I went to a YR meeting on campus along with a hefty dose of acid. They seemed bemused but were quite nice about the whole affair; they were free with the ample beer supply.

Aren’t you on the side that always says words matter???

OK, what, as a conservative, do you think you are conserving? It can’t be question marks.

I guess they are conserving the values of the 1950s. Then only Protestant flavored Christians men counted, with women and those “colored” folk all knowing their place, and to not be so uppity. It was important that everyone be free to do what they want, unless they are those women, dark folks and non-Protestant Christians. Also no birth control allowed, because babies need to be born to become neglected later on if they got sick and their parents were too poor to pay for medical care.

Even though it seems those patriots have mommy issues:
https://www.thedailybeast.com/mail-bomb-suspect-cesar-sayocs-rage-against-mom-drove-him-to-trump-lawyer-claims

Remember that receptors are rare ? It requirhaed 10 kg of tissue to get measurable amount of fola.te receptor. You have never answered to that one.
Besides NMDA autoimmunity is more prevalent amongst women. So vaccination sometimes is more dangerous to boys, sometimes it is not.
Food certainly have more food protein than vaccine. And speaking about intraveneous thing, oral desenzitation uses 200 mg doses, much less than normal food intake.

Politics aside, it is well known that some vaccine contaminants contain antigens with conformational epitopes (i.e., tertiary structure characteristics). Such epitopes are suspected to affect cross-react immune responses in immune sensitive children, triggering allergy induced regressive autism.

Back to politics:

Q. What does a pro-vaxxer republican call a democrat who questions vaccine safety.

A. Anti-vaxxer

@ Orac,

Here’s an instance wherein the word “anti-vaxxer” is deliberately used to cause dissension and hatred, therefore, as scientists let’s stop using the word “anti-vaxxer” because it has no clear boundaries.

Presumably you spelled your name correctly, MJD. After that promising start, it all went horribly wrong. The rest of your contribution, to be charitable, comprised incontinent brain dribblings.

On second thoughts, I think I’m being unkind to incontinent brain dribblings.

Could you please go to where your tribe lives and leave this forum? I don’t have time or energy for your fake politeness nor to read your science-y-sounding nonsense.

MJD;

NO:”anti-vaxxer” is ACCURATE.
The people we write about oppose vaccines; they scare people about vaccines; they fund bad research; they attempt to change laws that require vaccination for schools; they mis-educate parents.

There’s a clear meaning. There are clear boundaries unless you wish to fiddle with them by inciting so-called “safety” advocacy: vaccines are- despite what anti-vaxxers say- safe, effective and already TESTED .

If you oppose vaccines: you are an anti-vaxxer.

Such a good little dog-whistler. I read your passive-aggressive comments because you are obviously quite skilled at hiding your true beliefs and have learned your dog-whistling lessons well. Vaccines are extensively tested for safety. They are not perfect. The flu vaccines in particular represent the best guess about which strains will be the greatest threat. They protect millions of people from life-threatening disease. They will never be perfect. My grandmother and the mother of my godfather died agonizing deaths before we had them.

What part of your passive-aggressive mentality does not get it that vaccines save millions of lives in spite of their imperfections? Someone else suggested that I just ignore you. Will do so henceforth.

“Vaccines are extensively tested for safety”

Yes, they are “tested” extensively on the general public and result is they are extremely unsafe.

I wouldn’t pay a cent for anything written by MJD. Not even for the comedic value, which exists only if you like pathos.

@ Michael J. Dochniak (MJD)

You write: “Such epitopes are suspected. . . therefore, as scientists. . .” Lots of things are “suspected”; but most prove wrong. A “scientist” might state a hypothesis, then test; but, oops, there have already been numerous studies that have debunked your unscientific suspicion. No, not one study as all studies have each their own weaknesses; but the combined cumulative studies.

As for some Republicans being provaccine and some Democrats being anti vaccine, there is an old saying: “The exception proves the rule.” In addition, Orac is talking about the “Republican Party” (I assume that you can read and read the title of this blog post?) not registered Republicans. Name “ALL” the Democratic elected politicians and Party officials who promote anti vaccine legislation, if you can, then compare that list with “ALL” the Republican elected politicians and Party officials who promote anti vaccine legislation.

You are NOT, I repeat, you are NOT a scientist, just someone who keeps climbing out from under your rock.

I am a casualty of a congressman who is inflicting his stupid anti-science prejudices on his ignorant constituency. It really scares me. As I mentioned upthread, I confronted him a few months ago about his utter ignorance of the threat of spreading measles with unvaccinated children, and this a-hole would not even acknowledge the facts about measles transmission. He turned his back on me and immediately changed the subject. I think he is so ill-informed that he was too ignorant (dumb/uneducated) to understand my question.

I am an old person. I was a liaison between a good university and the US House Science Committee decades ago. I could not believe how dumb these people were. Even when they had relatively good staff, I was absolutely incredulous and gobsmacked about how scientifically illiterate the House members were. You had to explain stuff at an almost fourth-grade level to them. It was truly frightening, and I don’t mean that in an elitist, snobby, DC kind of way. Stupidity and ignorance at a level that public policy cannot even function with such brain-dead and poorly educated people and their almost equally ignorant staff. I doubt the public even has a clue how bad this is.

Gotta go eat now and have a beer. It’s too upsetting to think about.

Stupidity and ignorance at a level that public policy cannot even function with such brain-dead and poorly educated people and their almost equally ignorant staff. I doubt the public even has a clue how bad this is.

I believe part of the problem is the skillset one needs to get elected is not identical to the skillset to be a competent legislator and/or executive.

Such entertaining, science-y jargon. Where do you get this stuff?

People here have consistently told you that you do not belong here and they want you to stop cluttering up our valuable blog-perusing time with your fake-y quasi-science. I presume from your refusal to go elsewhere that you have some kind of rigid inability to accept that you contribute nothing to this discourse beyond an inability to accept that your input adds almost nothing beyond a passive-aggressive desire to achieve some kind of legitimacy. Could you please go away now? Please? There is much valuable information at the RI blog. Please just go where your fringe views will be accepted. Not here.

Apologies to other readers if I have crossed a line or offended anyone. This pest/troll is really beginning to irritate me.

Sara writes,

Apologies to other readers if I have crossed a line or offended anyone.

MJD says,

There’s an understanding at RI if a wisp of ignorance or opposition occurs, tempers flare. Therefore, apology accepted Sara.

@ Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH,

You write like a retired epidemiologist, Joel. Please take that as a compliment if correct.

“The data is in, broken homes hurt our kids, and they need TWO married parents or else be at a higher risk for depression eating disorders, promiscuity etc…”

I see you are also trying to legislate against death, or worse: requiring a woman to be married to an abusive man.

“Trump is making America great again through the economy and social reform.”

I am sure the soy bean growers just “love” the tariffs. I cannot imagine why pulling us back to the 1950s is considered “social reform.” Is part of that making sure millions of more families do not have access to medical care?

Yeah, that blog post is the dumbest and grossest thing I’ve read in a while. The ridiculous overuse of exclamation marks was pretty entertaining, though.

I went back and checked a bit more of that website. It is terrible. There is nothing on it that is personal, it is just a bunch of screeds with several different kinds of voices. Then I noticed a post on the “WalkAway” meme, which is apparently about former Democrats who “saw the light” to follow Trump. Which seems a bit odd… because it is. I saw this bit this morning:
https://hillreporter.com/fake-walkaway-ads-feature-images-of-people-from-shutterstock-4319

It is like the Lady of Reason and the very confused Xavieralis are Russian bots, and if not bots just very confused people.

I dunno about the Russian bots part; it gets thrown around a lot in stupid ways. Most of these people are just genuine American dullards.

I haven’t looked at the link you shared, but I will.

As far as “Russian bots” go, a lot of leftists I know on Twitter get that hurled at them a lot for daring to criticize mainstream liberals or the Democratic party. I’ve gotten it a couple times too. It’s obnoxious and frankly dehumanizing.

I’ll check out the link, though.

I just looked at Nate Silver’s 538/ governors’ races predictions:
Oregon and Connecticut look somewhat blue. Hooray!

I am just outside of NYC ( right near Dr Oz’s house), anti-vax hasn’t been much of an issue with a few exceptions.
Politically, it’s so blue around here that I noticed a republican’s yard sign was printed on DEEP BLUE cardboard. I swear.
I suppose we are part of what Woodward calls “New Netherlands”- an area focused on tolerance, modernity, enterprise.

At any rate, a few years ago, Louise Kuo Habakus ( see Encyclopedia of American Loons) created a splash in a governor’s race, supporting Christie, who may have been slightly sympathetic.. LKH and AoA claimed that anti-vaxxers swung the race.
She has been mostly absent except for Fearless Parent on PRN ( if that is still on-going) and her various non-profits.
The Segal Family ( Focus on Autism, Focus on Health) who fund anti-vax endeavors are residents.

Occasionally, we will hear of outbreaks amongst Orthodox Jews in nearby NY state, Brooklyn or Lakewood ( an hour away).

I suppose that the old stereotype of lefty, hippie, hipster, bohemian bourgeoisie anti-vax doesn’t really hold much water here because we do have enclaves of them in well-to-do towns and Hudson Valley artsy outposts ( which I frequent). BUT not much anti-vax activity that I can discern. .A few weeks ago, Jenny and JB held court about 15 miles from here and the event was not listed ( I thought it was in NY) it was at a tiny bookstore in a wealthy exurban town in my own county. Hidden away- when there are boutique-y bookstores in aforesaid rich towns and 2 GIANT throwback Barnes and Nobles on a major highways.

The whole situation with the Republican party is quite upsetting to me. I tend to swing somewhat conservative due to my upbringing and I would identify myself as a Republican except for a few small things. A huge part of the Republican party is anti-evolution. After Al Gore’s little movie, a huge portion of the Republican party became anti-global warming (and as global warming has become harder to deny, have shifted toward being anti-anthropogenic global warming). At this point, many libertarian Republicans have swung to being anti-vaccine… I have some libertarian tendencies, but you can’t do public school safely without something like vaccines at high population densities. That is simple reality. But it’s even worse than this: the alt-right has gained political power and is seeming to include people like Alex Jones who are so averse to reality that it is not possible for a trained scientist to associate politically with anyone who would vaguely consider associating with him. The Republicans seem to be confusing conservatism with denialism and have completely abolished the political refuge for more moderate conservatives like me. I am not anti-reality; science absolutely should not be politicized. You cannot shoot the messenger and expect the message to change. If more people like me joined the modern Republican party, it would help to moderate their messaging and ideation, maybe, but I cannot stand the idea of being associated with them… and so I’m neutral and deliberately unaffiliated.

I am wishing there were a different answer. Having spent years in crunchy granola Boulder, I know I’m not a Democrat, but I wish there were another answer in the two party system.

I’m going to quote The Stranger here: vote like your life depended on it, because it does. Vaccines are only one aspect of that; just looking within health care, it’s also about abortion rights, pre-existing conditions, and mental health care. (A partial list, just off the top of my head.)

The Democratic party doesn’t thrill me either (in my case because they’re too conservative), but even when there’s not a candidate I really like, there’s usually a clear choice, if only between indifferent and bad, or bad and worse. (I am actively happy with the woman who is going to be my next Congressman [she has no opponents in the general election], and I’m voting for the Democrat for governor in my state, not because he’s perfect, but because he’s clearly better than the Republican incumbent.)

This is non-partisan. I am also quite conservative and politically independent, but the moron who represents me has allied himself with those who self-identify as being resolutely anti-science and anti-rational. At that point you have to make a stand about who and what interests are the intelligent adults in the room and who are the idiot ideologues. When people are just idiots you have to take sides. It’s not as bad here as it could be, but it’s still pretty bad.

When I almost got thrown out of a public meeting for insisting in getting an answer about maintaining mandates for.school vaccination, I knew we were in bad territory. A couple of big, bad dudes who were obviously either private security or SS crowded me when I kept asking questions. You know who the SS are because they have little coiled.spiral, flesh-colored earpieces and all wear the same badly tailored suits..

Yes. Boulder is extreme. It’s another culture and another mentality. My nephews live in Breckenridge, which is a typical CO ski resort town. They are young but consider Boulder a total outlier. It always has been. You go from Boulder to Colorado Springs, the reddest of the red, to see the spectrum of what exists in CO. A relative of mine runs the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. Nothing more right-wing than that. Colorado is a peculiarly extreme place.

The scariest place out west is Idaho and all the survivalist enclaves near there that think the world will end tomorrow. These are very hard-care libertarian/survivalist communities. If you want to vaccinate their kids, get out your gun. That’s how militant they are. It’s beautiful, but they are just crazy. Guns rule their thinking.

“I wish there were another answer in the two party system”

Of course there is, as pretty well every other democratic country on Earth demonstrates: all you have to do is change the word “in” to “to”.

I have never understood why Americans are so resistant to new political parties when there is widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo. Instead of forming new parties, which a receptive populace could come to embrace over time, ideological factions in the US find themselves needing to infiltrate and transform one of the two existing major parties. They’ve learned that most voters will only pick from a list of two, and many won’t change their choice even if the policies change, sometimes radically.

From outside of the US this seems absurd. I guess that’s why US politics is often described as tribal.

You’re assuming a level of literacy and political sophistication that does not exist here. We are not Europe. Most Americans get their opinions from absolutely stupid right-wing television. It amuses and dismays me that Europeans think most Americans function at their level. They do not. The stupidity here and abject ignorance would horrify Europeans and those from anywhere else in the world. We have a level of dumbness, ignorance, and just sheer stupidity that would make you ill. No wonder we got what we have now. This is what happens when you have no meaningful public educational system.

Until campaign finance reform is taken seriously (and why that isn’t at the top of everyone’s list is beyond me*), it seems unlikely that the U.S. will ever have anything other than the two parties.

*OK, maybe not totally beyond me but that issue takes a bit of thinking outside one’s immediate sphere of concern. In my opinion, many political ails can be healed with campaign finance reform.

Sara, your two party system predates television. It’s more likely that media aligns with the pre-existing divisions.

Science Mom, I strongly suspect that the political $$ problem lies with the electorate. It takes a lot of shouting in people’s faces to move voting by fractions of a per cent. That in turn makes politicians more attuned to the desires of their funders than citizens. Citizens tend to vote for a party no matter what, so politicians are free to ignore their desires.

I believe the problem is cultural rather than political, so political solutions seem bound to fail. In any case, it would take a lot of politicians to change a system of which they are beneficiaries. Stalemate.

At least so it seems to this casual observer from the outside.

Science Mom, I strongly suspect that the political $$ problem lies with the electorate. It takes a lot of shouting in people’s faces to move voting by fractions of a per cent. That in turn makes politicians more attuned to the desires of their funders than citizens.

I believe the problem is cultural rather than political, so political solutions seem bound to fail. In any case, it would take a lot of politicians to change a system of which they are beneficiaries. Stalemate.
Spot on!

Americans probably aren’t resistant to new parties as such, the problem is that you have a chicken-and-egg problem. To be a viable option for most voters, a party has to have at least some real-world influence. In a country the size of the US, this means those parties need a considerable number of votes to start with. And on top of that comes the structural disadvantage FPTP elections bring for smaller parties.

“structural disadvantage FPTP elections”

Disadvantage, yes, yet it happens in countries with first past the post, not just those with proportional representation. It can take years. Sometimes change is blindingly fast. Can it happen in the US? I have no idea.

Not certain how much familiarity you have with the U.S. system, so forgive me if I sound pedantic. It is possible for other parties to gain power and it’s happened like twice historically. The problem is that it can’t happen very easily and I believe that it was probably designed that way. For the government here, there are so many interdependencies between the leadership of the branches in how they are associated and who has checks on whom that a new party must swing from basically no support to the majority of the people being aware of them and supportive of them for them to gain power. Third parties do exist here and some even have representatives in the government, but they are so divided and supported by such insignificant minorities that they gain relatively little traction on issues they care about unless they align with one of the two major parties (see Bernie Sanders). The design of the government here tends to have feedback enhancement that favors basically just two parties.

For example, one thing to remember about the current president is that he didn’t get to power on any sort of majority vote. He’s there because the Republican field was too divided during the primaries. There were something like 15 candidates and their selection did not require a majority vote, it simply required that one candidate gain the largest portion of votes (where 25% was large) during any particular sampling… but the sampling was only performed within the party. By the time the field was cleared enough for more rational voices to potentially prevail, Donald Trump and a couple of others (who weren’t better choices in my opinion) were all that was left. The people who did that picking, who to even offer as the Republican candidate were a minority, the hardcore Republicans who could vote in those primaries, not any unaffiliated voters who swing conservative. When the election finally happened, the signal enhancement effect of the electoral college selected the candidate with the broadest support among the states (as opposed to the candidate with the simple majority, given that the majority was regionally driven). If the candidate wins the state, the state swings entirely for the candidate (except in a few special cases). The irony here is that the core Republicans and the core Democrats who select the candidates for the major parties are pretty much assured to vote for the candidate that their party put forward, and such voters are pretty even in number… the final vote tends to depend on unaffiliated and swing voters who might be willing to vote either way. Given that voter turn-out was something like 50% of the 2/3 of U.S. residents eligible to vote, about 1/3 of U.S. residents even participated in selection of the president of whom less than half actually wanted to win given that he won by the electoral college rather than by simple majority. —I do understand the reason for the electoral college, but I’m divided about whether I think it should continue to exist. The reason President Trump is in power is because the Republican field was outside of its zone of statistical stability and that the feedback effect built into the rest of the system tended to put a non-Clinton into power.

I’ll be curious to see what happens with the midterms here. The Republicans are all playing to the Trump base while the Democrats are all playing to their base on the virtue that their opposition supports Trump. There is some chance that congress will swing Democrat, in which case we end up with another two years where the government won’t seem to be able to figure out what to do with itself and may spend 2/3 of its time trying to impeach the president. What worries me is that both parties seem to be swinging further left and right, which makes me less enthusiastic about the whole thing. In my own opinion, the system as current constructed is not the best one to face the information age.

I do understand your conundrum. I am a socially very progressive, financially fairly conservative, pro-internationalism, pro-environment, pro-science and find no party reflects my values precisely. So I find the one that comes closest. Never gonna be 100%. My choices are usually between one that I agree with 0-10% and one that I agree with ~75%. In a two party system, that is what happens. So, I go with the 75% and fight for the other 25% in the primaries.

When my very conservative brother was visiting he tried to bait me with some chatter about terrible things Democrats do, and how the Republicans freed the slaves. I just responded that I gave up on labels long ago.

@ Sara:

I always thought that South Park was fiction until I visited Colorado:
What’s the song by Stan?: ” I live in a hippie / redneck town”

So true..The polarity is either hippie or redneck. That seems to be true of most of the state. It’s either guns and keep-your-hands-off-my-guns or where’s-my-weed. I love Colorado but would never live there. The racism towards indigenous people seems woven into the culture as in the most of the west. Even the progressive hippie types just seem to ignore it. That’s the most shocking thing to me. Indigenous people get treated like crap, and so-called progressives do little about it.

Another example is the tow of Bend WA (the Twin Peaks town). On the main street there’s a shop for crystals and singing bowls and a shop for magic water filters and a shop for pellet stoves and a pickup truck dealership (and a nice bakery and an OK diner).

It’s an interesting dichotomy.

The hippie/redneck mix is a definite thing in this area, too, going back to the 70s. The first wave of Californians that starting moving up here – directly to the area mainly, not via Portland – in the 70s and into the 80s were actually cool and laid back and integrated with the local population instead of being stuck-up and isolating themselves. Not typically rich, either.

So yeah, they basically just sort of showed up and were like, “Hey, we’re here from California, we brought weed, let’s party.” One of my best friends from my hometown (we still talk all the time, often for hours), his parents are actually from Oakland. I mean, some of the uber-rednecks are still pretty xenophobic, but those people pretty much suck anyway and aren’t very interesting, I generally just ignore them.

That’s what my nephews say, and they are only in their thirties. They get frustrated because the weedies just do nothing except do their weedy thing and are so passive and don’t participate much in public life. One of my nephews has worked hard to build a business and is really annoyed that the weedies do so little to add to the community. Passivity…..I’m not going to generalize about the effects of weed on personality, but you do have to kind of wonder about adults who have been using this stuff for decades.

I’m a total nerd so wonder whether anyone is looking at the Oregon population–another nephew lives there–or whether recently anyone is looking seriously at young people in Colorado. That’s a fruitful area for research. Wonder whether there are any serious studies. I’m sure there must be, but I’m not aware of them.

You don’t really have to “wonder” about people who have been smoking weed for decades; I know quite a few. A lot of them have PhDs, one of them is currently lecturing at Harvard, one was a major labor union figure for her entire career, one is a nurse. Lots of different folks.

I’ve spent the majority of my years in the PNW, most of that time either right across the river from Oregon or in Portland. I definitely … pay attention to young/youngish people here.

“A study on the youth in Oregon” is a prettt broad idea for a study, though. Although if you’re referring to legal weed, the only real thing is that teenagers are using less of it and adults are using a bit more. It’s not like people weren’t smoking weed before it was legal.

If anything, when it comes to, say, edibles, people are less likely to have a bad time if they’re buying from a shop, because you actually know what/how much you’re getting. Homemade edibles can be pretty dicey. Not that I would know anything about that.

Reply to Science Mom, but there’s no reply tag on your post….I’ve been working on campaign finance reform for thirty years. This is the only solution. We need to reverse the SCOTUS insult that corporations have personhood–totally corrupt and indefensible–and institute public funding of campaigns. Nothing else will work. Public funding and reversal of the Citizens United ruling. Many good things could result from these. I have hope in spite of the utter corruption we are now poisoned by. I think I could live long long enough to see this changed. You have to hope.

What’s the motivation to lump all people who question vaccines into a particular political subgroup?

What’s the motivation to mischaracterise a blog post as lumping “all” people who question vaccines into a particular political subgroup?

The motivation is being puzzled that I’ve been heard for years that it was the hippie left that denied vaccines in Oregon, California and so on due to wanting to be natural. It appears from this post that the right is responsible for denying vaccines. Is it either/or or both camps? Perhaps political stripes have nothing whatsoever to do with vaccine acceptance, and should be left out of the conversation entirely.

No one is lumping all people who question vaccines into a particular political subgroup. They come from all points of the spectrum.

The point of the article is that, in contrast to the Democratic party, the Republican party is starting to make anti-vaccine positions like vaccine choice semi-official and has several major candidates endorsing them or at least giving major hints.

Do you know of any Democratic candidates who do so?

As for the granola point, it’s a convenient stereotype. Right-wingers eat bacon and eggs for breakfast and steak and potatoes for supper and drink whiskey. Left-wingers eat granola because it’s healthier (despite the fat?) and avocado-chicken salad for supper and drink white wine.

They are stereotypes, certainly don’t apply to everyone, and may not even be accurate. But people are familiar with them so they can be a convenient shorthand sometimes.

Sara: “It amuses and dismays me that Europeans think most Americans function at their level. They do not. The stupidity here and abject ignorance would horrify Europeans and those from anywhere else in the world.”

It’s amusing that you’ve deluded yourself into believing Europeans are paragons of enlightenment.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1011705/germany-angela-merkel-protests-migrant-policy-daniel-pegida
https://www.thelocal.fr/20180327/paris-anti-semitism-fears-over-brutal-murder-of-85-year-old-holocaust-survivor

Gotta laugh. I lived in France and had my own dose of anti-American snobbery, but they do have a point. Europeans are not orders of magnitude above us in terms of political enlightenment, but they have a degree of awareness that just doesn’t exist here. I talked to a German buddy a few days ago who said he was just completely baffled by the Trump horror. How could you let this happen in your country? He was totally mystified. And as Orac just said, the UK now has to cope with Brexit and the totally inept pseudo-government of May. I can’t even imagine the seismic cultural shift that’s going to cause if May keeps screwing things up and this version of Brexit actually happens.

There are noises about another referendum to overturn Brexit. Doubtful, but keep your fingers crossed. How the UK ended up with someone as useless as May baffles me. Sympathies for all of you in the UK. It is not as overtly corrupt and terrifying as it is here, but you don’t seem to have a government of functioning adults any more than we do.

Tell you something funny. One of the questions asked in the “mini mental” cognitive test we attend when admitting the elderly is “who is the current prime minister?” You might know both major political parties in Aus have developed a tendency to kick out P.M’s out before their time (7 in the last 10 years). So quite a few people struggle with that question. EVERYBODY knows who President Trump is. So I ask that one instead. I don’t know if it’s funny or horrifying.

Aye. We have our own share of idiots. I must admit that I cling to the idea that “average views don’t make the news”. Otherwise it’s take off and nuke the place from orbit. Start again from primordial slime.

I wish. Maybe it’s good for the US to just fall apart in some kind of revolution so we we can just start over with universal health care–most important of all–a primacy of environmental regulations and responsibility for taking care of the natural world above all, and make a workable safety net for the most vulnerable. Dismantle rich corporations’ and rich individuals’ power to control everything and make corporations pseudo-people. True socialism is the answer. I will gladly pay for protecting society as a whole and ensuring that the common good becomes the most important priority. But I’m an old f**t who has seen the evils of doing things really stupidly for decades.

I think we are due for a revolution. Young people could be the drivers if they get the damn gadgets off their hands and ears and wake up. They are anesthetized and too poorly educated to understand the big picture, so we old f**ts have to do it.

I think we are due for a revolution. Young people could be the drivers if they get the damn gadgets off their hands and ears and wake up. They are anesthetized and too poorly educated to understand the big picture, so we old f**ts have to do it.

Holy Christ. With an attitude like that, good luck ever convincing anybody younger than 40 or so that they should ever have literally anything to do with you.

I know lots of radicals of all ages. Genuine radicals don’t really give too much of a rip about age.

Oh, and we use … technology. Yes. Shocking, I know.

@ rs:

( Someone could probably do this better than I can – so go ahead)

I think that there may be something in the structures of the government / constitution themselves that biases the US towards a 2 party system. It might involve super majority rules and method of introducing/ passing laws.

And so yes, two parties might protect the public from dangerous, radical minority groups / sarcasm/

Not sure whether you are making a serious or sarcastic comment, so please excuse me if I have misinterpreted. I have a legal background, and this is a multi-page conversation for another time and venue. The whole two-party quandary in US politics was revived after WWII. It is very contentious and complex. The ill-advised and very destructive tangential campaigns of Nader and now Jill Stein were extremely destructive and split very close third-party votes in ways that were pernicious.

Until we have viable third parties in the US, think carefully about how your dissident vote can do harm.

This is not the place to discuss this.

I don’t want to divert the conversation too much. Please take your judgmental inclinations elsewhere. Most people here understand that politics affects science/health care policy/personal medical decisions. Ordinarily I ignore comments like this, which are basically trolling.

“Until we have viable third parties in the US, think carefully about how your dissident vote can do harm.

This is not the place to discuss this.”

Unfortunately this is the perfect way to perpetuate the current political structure.

FOUND IT! There are a few articles about why “winner takes all” ( e.g. electoral college. other votes) biases towards 2 parties.
See also Duverger’s rule.

Yes, I think most scholars of US politics would agree that the two party system is more or less baked into the Constitution, and the framers efforts to mitigate against the influence of “factions”, e.g. the Electoral College, were doomed to failure. I think there’d also be generally consensus that for most of our history, the 2-party system, while far from perfect, has been more or less functional over-all. Now, while it’s not a consensus exactly, I think thesere’s fairly wide belief that the 2-party system has broken down, and that has happened because the GOP stopped playing by the fundamental rules necessary to enable anything resembling representative democracy. Through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and court decisions they’ve created the conditions for gaining and perpetuating minority rule, and assembled their electoral minority via outright fascism/racism/xenophobia/homophobia/misogyny, the whole basket of deplorables, and greased that with a powerful propaganda apparatus fomenting lie after lie after denial of facts scientific and otherwise that would make Goebbels envious.

The questions for political theorists are whether this mess was a likely result of our two party system in the first place, that having only two viable parties made it too likely that one would someday be taken over by illegitimate actors (like Mitch McConnel) who would monkeywrench the whole system, whether some different adjusted two-party system would have been or could be immune to this, whether multi-party parliamentary systems are better protected from the present corruptions, or whether some radically different mechanism (i.e. proportional representation, ranked voting, etc.) would be required, or at least better somehow.

I know the grass across the fence is always greener, but I often think we’d be better off with a multi-party parliamentary system, which at least offers more opportunities for people to vote for candidates they actually like rather than the lesser of two evils. But, in reality, countries with such political systems are hardly immune to the current wave of takeovers by “nationalist’ or “authoritarian” (choose your euphemism for fascism!) despots.

They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Having a keen personal interest in Brexit, I am horrifyingly amused (amusedly horrified?) at the political contortions that PM May had to undertake to garner a majority by getting into bed with the NI’s DUP. That and the shit show in Stormont leave me distraught.*

*Apologies for the possibly esoteric personal political rant.

I think true socialism is the answer because I am really weary of hearing about lives being destroyed due to medical debt while creeps like Rick Scott get away with ripping off Medicare while walking away with hundreds of millions and then being elected governor of Florida. Recommend a well-researched book by Walt Bogdanich, Pultizer Prize winner for his investigation of testing labs in the 90s–The Great White Lie–about the totally corrupt Hospital Corporation of America. Meticulous investigative work although now dated. I don’t think HCA tactics have changed much since then.

I am ashamed to say my brother is a compadre of the Frists, who set up HCA. I socialized with them when I was in college. They bought their sociopathic son Bill a Senate seat. HCA is evil and always has been, and Rick Scott is horrible slime. There was no accountability for the HCA Medicare ripoff. Some little piddling fine, I think.

My utopian goal for the US is for everyone to get the medical care they need when they need it like the rest of the civilized world without fearing that it’s going to break you financially. If France were not so officious and expensive we would be there right now. Hubby wants to retire there, but it’s unrealistic and naive for an American, I think. Fantastic health care system–maybe the best in the world.

In my utopia we would have a planetary and free, socialized health care system available to anyone and funded by the WHO/UN or some other transnational entity–transportable to any country.

My closest friend here has to sell her house to fund rehab for recovery from her massive stroke. The moron class continues to demonize “socialism,” which already exists in the US, so I ignore that childish rhetoric. Thank you, Faux News, and the extreme right wing for turning that rational concept and reality into a slur. Railroads, the postal service, Medicare. Look it all up. We have had “socialized” institutions in the US for almost a century.

The US will not be a healthy society again until we restore the notion of protecting the common good without punishing people seen as parasites because we are ALL such parasites. In my utopia everyone would contribute to achieve a collective goal of solid social welfare.

Sorry for going on so long. Rant over……

Unfortunately the Republican policy of cruelty to the poor and disabled is actually more expensive. Working stiffs who get injured and then actually get proper medical care can to back to work… to still pay their income taxes and do not need SSI benefits.

It is not “socialism” to make sure everyone has access to affordable heath care, it is good economic policy.

There’s no reply button on your response. Sorry, I am a dummy in navigating this.

The key to resolving this is how to persuade Congresscritters that as you say it is the best possible financial and economic policy to be sure everyone has access to good health care. The rational argument seems to have disappeared under the huge, sour blanket of rhetoric about “socialism.” We need to protect everyone, and common sense about this has vanished with the relentless right-wing, absolutely stupid rhetoric. Or been buried under the money of those who have their own corrupt agendas.

The only way to solve this is to dismantle our corrupt system and create the kind of universal health care that exists in the rest of the civilized world. Please help toward this goal. There are many effective organizations chipping away at this. Please help and spend some time on it if you can. This gigantic problem may sink the US unless people who understand the magnitude of the present and future problems get involved in a big way.

The fact that the President is elected separately probably has a lot to do with it as well. In a parliamentary system, a small party with 3 or 4 votes can be key to helping a would-be leader like Angela Merkel gain enough votes to continue running the government. This seems to happen every election in Israel.

Also, the Green and Libertarian parties haven’t been able to get a lot of traction in local elections. Here in New Mexico, the Libertarians have a viable Senate candidate in former governor Gary Johnson and compete for 2 of the 3 House seats. But they didn’t qualify for the governor’s election and only have 4 candidates for local seats.

I also noticed that in Kansas, every former Republican governor except Sam Brownback, who works in the State Department, has endorsed the Democratic candidate Laura Kelly. She is running neck and neck with Kris Kobach. The result may depend on how many votes she loses to the independent and Libertarian candidates.

On the main topic, the Republican party for some time now hasn’t had a good idea of what they want the Federal government actually to accomplish, aside from a strong military. This makes getting support from the anti’s (anti-abortion, anti-taxes, anti-immigration, anti-LGBT, etc.) a bigger part of getting a majority vote and winning elections.

I sincerely hope for a major shift in the coming election results because I fear that Republicans elected under a system designed to protect against the tyranny of the majority will use their power to enforce a tyranny of the minority for some time in the future.

I’m quite enjoying the ‘Law and Sausages’ webcomic. By the same guy who does SMBC. A bit of a light but serious background to American politics.

Why the ad hominem insult? Yesterday, I objected to Orac’s assertion that AV “has always been….[of] roughly equal prevalence on the left and the right”. To which Orac responded, “You’re just FOS on this one, I’m afraid.” He restated the point about AV politics today in slightly different terms, making the present tense of “equal prevalence” more clear, as well as clarifying that the numbers don’t matter as much as the noise and that now is coming overwhelmingly with a right-wing spin. Which is more or less what I was arguing.

I would actually dispute that the numbers are now of equal prevalence on either side of some left/right divide. I don’t dispute that they may have been equal at some point in the past or even that they may have tilted “left” somewhat at some point. The main reason I took exception to the “equal prevalence” claim isn’t directly related to anything here, but my much larger angst over the many public commentators now drawing false equivalences between the milquetoast liberals and centrists of the Democratic Party and the howling fascist/racist/misogynist/criminal/immoral/yada/yada/yada of the Trumpist GOP. You know, ‘both sides equally lack civility because Trump calls for protesters to be beaten and Sara Sanders was politely asked to leave a restaurant.’ I’m just so literally, viscerally sick of that FOS I’m especially touchy. Part of the reason Orac’s use of “equal” irked me is that it’s superfluous to the point. He could simply have said that contrary to the stereotype of antivaccine parents and activists “that they’re all granola crunching hippie-dippy left wingers” in reality they can be found in significant numbers “trom all over the political spectrum”. Which is no doubt true. So why go any further and insist the numbers are now and have always been “roughly equal’ on either side of a dividing point, especially when 1) where the separating midpoint is placed is totally subjective, and 2) opinion doesn’t fall along a single linear axis anyway. As such, I read that language choice as an attempt to keep up some veil of being “non-partisan” here at RI, to not alienate readers who may identify as conservatives or Republicans. I find that forced neutrality offensive under the present iorcumstances, of ‘conservatives” and “Republicans” either having gone all in on the many crimes of Trumpism, or at least remaining silent on things no one who actually believes in representative democracy, equal justice under law, or basic human decency can overlook.

Having gotten that out, I want to say a bit more about how I see the politics of antivax. The problem with the granola-cruncher stereotype was that it suggested a certain political orientation led people to be more vulnerable to antivax pseudoscience. Witness the Beast’s reference to “the looney left”.
What I want to argue is not just that political orientation has never been a valid predictor of whether someone will adopt anti-vax beliefs, but that previous political ideology of of either left/right/middle is not a significant causal factor in people going AV. That is, I don’t think most AVs are now or have ever been truly political people, apart from or prior to their their AV crusades. (So RFKJ would be an exception, along with some other fairly well known figures, but i refer to the ‘rank-and-file’ among the hardcore activists.)

My thought here has been informed by my general observations of the social environs near me where AV clusters can be found – granola-crunchy ‘liberal’ Sonoma County and techno-libertarian Silicon Valley. The folks in these environs tend to vote Democratic, if they vote at all, but they’re they’re basically haute bourgeois careerists who are more into themselves than any broad political cause. I’ll suggest that overall these groups are more like than unlike the GOP strongholds in Bob Sears country around San Diego, the other area of CA where AV clusters are common, that the outlook of the social pools from which anti-vax comes are more class-based senses of privilege and empowerment than anything defined by ideology.

I submit that some root life disturbance has to happen to people to upset their psychologies and turn them towards AV (or any other CT for that matter). While some of those disturbances may in some broad sense have a ‘political’ component, they’re certainly not perceived as such, if they’re ever perceived consciously at all. Rather, I think the root causes at work in turning people to AV become totally repressed and confined to the subconscious. Which is to say that I think hard core anti-vax (as opposed to mere vax-hesitance) burrows down to become what amounts to a bedrock first principle that sits below any political or ideological position. If that’s so, then that primal motive will take whatever channel of discourse is available to express itself and get attention. And that may indeed vary over time.

Now, as RFKJ does show, there is a path out for AV through traditionally liberal rhetoric as befits an “environmental activist”: polluting and harmful toxins spread as a callous byproduct of profiteering multinational corporations. My argument, restated in that direction, is that ‘regular people’ didn’t become AV because they’re anti-corporate environmentalists, but start spouting anti-corporate environmental lingo when it works to channel their bedrock AV ‘truth’. Similarly, I don’t think folks are becoming AV now because they have previously believed in ‘parental choice’ or ‘anti-government’ CTs but rather more that AVs are spouting that rhetoric because it’s the open channel du jour.

If this analysis is more or less correct, then the politics of antivax isn’t a question of the beliefs held or espoused by the AV core themselves, but what broader channels are more useful and accommodating to spreading AV dogma. And I will argue that this has always tilted at least a bit toward the right and is now careening heavily in that direction. Maybe 15 years ago some Democrats showed a wee bit of respect or attention to AV concerns… HRC made some statements, Jerry Brown weakened the first exemption legislation etc. But then you had the Issas, Burtons, Chaffetzes, etc. on the conservative GOP side taking meetings and holding hearings… much more involvement than from the other side of the aisle. Movement further right was more or less inevitable because, 1) in general, liberals find scientific research persuasive, and believe in proactive public health measures to protect the vulnerable, e.g. infants too young to be vaccinated and the immuno-compromised.; and 2) the right has become ever more invested in conspiracy theories, the politics of grievance, and naked, ethics-and-morality-free pursuit of self-interest by any means available. It was no accident whatsoever that SB277 was authored by a Democrat, and passed on a vote that hewed pretty close to party lines. And it’s no accident that the few remaining pro-science R’s like Ervin Yen are getting turfed out of their party – especially in the Oklahoma of Jim Inhofe and Scott Pruitt.

granola-crunchy ‘liberal’ Sonoma County and techno-libertarian Silicon Valley. The folks in these environs tend to vote Democratic, if they vote at all, but they’re they’re basically haute bourgeois careerists who are more into themselves than any broad political cause.

I mean, to be honest, “crunchy granola” doesn’t really correlate even with liberalism, let alone leftism. A lot of those type of folks are either apolitical or they’re actively conservative in one way or another. (See Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Cons book, for example. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed lots and lots of “crunchy granola” types – organic foods and alternative medicine and so on and so on – are conservative Christians. It’s definitely a thing.) A lot of them are right-wing “””libertarians”””, too.

I’ve asked a fair number of skeptics on Twitter what they mean when they talk about anti-science on the “looney left” or the “far left” – like, “What do you think the far left is?” and they usually list things like anti-GMO sentiment, PETA, Greenpeace, and stuff like that. Like, I guess people associated with the latter two organizations do tend to be left of center, but that doesn’t represent the “far left.” If we’re talking about commies and socialists and anarchists, there’s pretty much nothing but disdain for PETA and Greenpeace.

As far as anti-science sentiment goes, I mean, come on, Marxists are materialists. Anarchists have lots of different philosophical orientations and ideas about things (being anarchists), but I’m pretty heavily involved in a lot of different anarchist circles, and I’ve come across anti-vax sentiment once, which was promptly and vocally labeled as bullsh!t. Anti-GMO sentiment is something I’ve seen a little bit more of, but usually you can just talk to people a little bit about how GMO isn’t just Roundup and Monsanto, and like, yeah, Monsanto sucks as much as any corporation, but GMO tech is just a really powerful tool that can be used for lots of things, including really awesome things, and it could well help us sustain human life and civilization. If you frame it as just a technology, people tend to just be cool with it. I mean, hey, technology is awesome, we just need to appropriate it and liberate from capitalism and the state. The only anarchists that are actively anti-tech, for the most part, are anarcho-primitivists (eye roll), but as terrible as they are, they’re pretty much self-marginalizing.

Brief aside, just in case anybody’s interested, due to a confluence of things, I recently had a really major emotional/psychological breakthrough somehow, and the constant suicidal ideation and intense self hatred basically just went poof.

I was talking about a cat who adopted me – so I guess I have two cats now – with a cat-loving friend the other day. I said, “Yeah, he was hanging around for like a year scavenging my cat’s food. He’s really pretty and I wanted to pet him for a long time, but he was too scared.” (A couple months ago, he suddenly just warmed up to me, and now he rubs against my legs and likes to be petted and he purrs and stuff. So far not a snuggly lap kitty, though.) And he said, “Cats do things on their own time.”

I think I must be like a cat in that sense. I’m not sure if that’s a personal idiosyncrasy or if it’s actually fairly common in humans and a lot of people just don’t get the time and space and other conditions they need to deal with stuff. Granted, I’ve had a lot more stuff to deal with than the average bear.

That is, I don’t think most AVs are now or have ever been truly political people, apart from or prior to their their AV crusades. (So RFKJ would be an exception, along with some other fairly well known figures, but i refer to the ‘rank-and-file’ among the hardcore activists.)

There’s more to your comment but for the sake of brevity, I kept to this one quote. I think what complicates trying to bin anti-vaxxers into one political group or another is their drive to vote on that one single issue no matter how they identify in other ways. That and their alignment with whatever critter panders to their single issue blur the lines.

Anti-vaxxers epitomize purity/identity politics. At least the few I’ve talked to seem to….They are like the abortion litmus testers. You’re for or against in their view. They seem absolutely rigid and absolutist, which is more psychopathology than ideology. Or maybe both….I’m in the reddest of the red states, and these people categorize you in seconds as being one-of-us or one-of-them. They can’t think, really. They seem to have zero tolerance for divergent opinion. I would make disparaging remarks about their ignorance and lack of education and the systemic failures that led to that, but it changes nothing. We have to deal with these fanatics somehow.

Aside…I’ve met Robert Kennedy twice. He is a true a-hole. He did a radio show with Papantonio, a local celebrity environmental lawyer who works for my (grossly overpriced) own law firm. Papantonio is a good guy. Kennedy is not. After talking to him I understand why his ex-wife killed herself, in case anyone forgot about that. He is 24K sleaze and is ignorant about the vaxx issue. We didn’t get into that, but we did chat about local environmental concerns. He knew absolutely nothing and lazily did not bother to inform himself. My opinion of him could not be lower or more negative.

Seeking help.

We may have a really bad public health guru here. This guy was a political appointee and in my opinion from his statements is problematic. He obviously had to have some kind of solid public health credentials to get the job, but his public statements really bug me. I haven’t looked up his training or credentials yet–will do that tomorrow–but his public statements are really worrying me.

He has some kind of long-term publicly funded appointment and has said a lot of things that are not scientifically defensible and maybe are not valid. I just became aware of this today so have not researched it much.

Could you help me out with this? What can I realistically do if the main person responsible for public health in our community seems a bit iffy?

I am trying to keep up with correspondence here, but my priority is our natural disaster from Hurricane Michael. Very good friend was absolutely devastated and had her property completely destroyed, so I will sign off for now.

Thanks to everyone for their scientific insights, but I need to focus on our terrible problem and recovery now. It has disappeared from the news cycle. My wonderful friend has lost everything on her beautiful farm. There were deaths. She is completely traumatized. It is horrible.

I got lost in this thread. Sorry. Nephew in his mid-30s lives in Portland OR and has been in the PNW for many years. He just married the manager of all the labs at U of Portland! Much happiness, I hope.

His brother lives in weed-legal Colorado but is very conservative. Legal weed is apparently not working out as well as they expected. Not generating enough revenue. They made some bad miscalculations.

I’m not sure the PNW hippie culture is a good paradigm for most of the US. There are pockets of it elsewhere–Asheville, maybe; some places in Hawaii; Oakland. I’m in the deep, dark south, and I know some areas of New Orleans where it is still alive and well. New Orleans was not completely ruined by its Disneyfication decades ago. The essence of it barely survives.

Sticking to my grand plan that this country needs to do whatever it takes to achieve universal health care. Revolution now.

Good friend who is an experienced political consultant says that their numbers and polling show that young people are not going to vote. They don’t really know why. They don’t get it, and young people aren’t sharing their opinions. This could make all the difference, but she says they are really puzzled by this. People 18-24 are telling them that they will probably not vote. Mystery. Maybe it’s some kind of social media influence, maybe something else. They will deflate the much-vaunted blue tsunami. Foreign interference is probably going to pollute our elections anyway because Democrats don’t have the resources or will to prevent foreign interventions. I predict massive takeover of our electoral process from outside. Total corruption.

But this is a medical blog. Stop pestering me because I keep pointing this out.

Like any good parent, I google stalk my kids. 😉

Anyhoo… ten years ago I hit upon about my younger kids. It was during the 2008 electron when a local radio/tv news crew found him voting. I saved that page to my hard drive (along with other bits of his life like papers he wrote on my computer). Here is the key quote bit, his last name removed for privacy:

The last-second opportunity to cast a ballot Tuesday had 18-year-old Peter *** at a polling place near the University of Washington campus.

“It’s been a dream because I remember many years ago with the 2004 election my mom telling me, ‘next time Peter, you’re going to get a voice,”‘ said ***, who attends nearby Roosevelt High School. “And it’s really cool that my opinions are actually going to be counted.”

I remember the 2004 election; I was very upset and sick about it. My single-minded issue at the time was the Iraq war. Bad enough that thousands of American soldiers weee dying, but the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis…

I was just old enough to vote in the 2006 elections, but I didn’t. I was overwhelmed with other stuff, I guess. But I voted for the first time in the 2008 election and I haven’t missed one since.

There are a few anarchists who say, “If you vote, you’re legitimizing the system and the US government, and that’s on your hands.”

I don’t see it that way. However minuscule, within the reality we live in, voting is one thing you can do to at least maybe make things less sh!tty for people who are stuck with me.

Things are getting bad. I’ve been fighting fascism for years, and I still, am. If it comes to it, I have no fear about being marched to the gallows like the anarchists of old, including Albert Parsons, husband of Lucy Parsons. I would go with head held high.

“I remember the 2004 election; I was very upset and sick about it.”

I suspect that was the reason for those words to my kid. And to all of my kids. My youngest even got registered in the state of New York, even with their draconian antiquated system (ooh, it also includes only allowing voting on one day…. no early voting or voting by mail in NY!).

Thank you for voting!

Yah, Michigan also has day-of voting. But being in grad school, I had a flexible schedule, so I would go vote in the afternoon when the line was sure to be short.

Paper ballots, though, which is how i think it should be, short of vote-by-mail, which I think is the best. It was these long paper ballots where you filled in bubbles with a pen and folded them back up a bit and covered them with a folder and fed them into a machine.

@ JP:

I’m glad to hear that you’re doing well. Congratulations on the new cat ( I saw the photo- very pretty)
Yes, you are definitely like a cat. Aren’t we all? Well, the good ones are, anyway.

All joking aside, when you feel low, you should know that many people find you an important voice and quite excellent in many ways. you have a great deal to contribute on the web and in RL. People don’t always find their niche on a time table. I’ve found that during hard times, it’s important to remember that you have – in the past- ALREADY done things that have changed the situation for the better and improved your life vastly. Just your academic achievements, educational travel, many friendships tell me that.
I’m glad that you live in a place where you get decent medical care.

Sometimes progress takes forever and is not without fallow periods and set backs. My cousin, JB, struggled with bulimia, ( a misdiagnosis of) bipolar, actual depression and physical ailments ( asthma, allergies, weight issues) stuck in a series of jobs below her academic and intellectual abilities: THEN she got better. She’s working for the state, helping people.. What changed? I don’t know – I talk to her mother who doesn’t know either.( JB does take meds and sees a therapist, doctors etc) Some of the other issues cleared up a little bit ( her father has a drinking problem and she takes care of him and the house). She has exotic rabbits that she keeps outside because of her allergies. Maybe animals help.

Thanks, Denice. Where did you see my cat? (I’m leaning towards “Mu” as a name for him. Reference both to coat pattern and a Zen koan.)

( a misdiagnosis of) bipolar

I think I have it, but I think I have a lot of other stuff on top of it that complicates things as well. PTSD/dissociative stuff, for one thing. But I know I started having depressive episodes at about 13 or 14, and when I look back I can pick out hypomanic episodes also, some bordering on mania. Something something “kindling effect” something, but also when I had the really grand, dramatic, long manic episode, I had been on 200 mg of Zoloft in the months preceding it. In the past couple years I’ve had long periods of depression and a couple hypomanic episodes, one of which was veering into mania before I broke my foot and got depressed instead.

stuck in a series of jobs below her academic and intellectual abilities:

Right now I’m really feeling Jello Biafra’s words “I’m too damn weird to hold no straight job,” so I’m trying to cobble something together. Ideally I can cobble something good enough to let me move out soon.

What changed? I don’t know – I talk to her mother who doesn’t know either.

For me, like I said, it was a confluence of things. Meeting certain people and falling in trust with them.

I watched this video, which was incredibly good and touching, and it made me cry a lot towards the end when I hadn’t cried in years:

And then it was like, “What the hell, I actually have emotions now? This is … aaaaahhhhhhh.” I mean, a bit weird and painful and difficult, but honestly preferable, and being able to actually feel things and sort of let go of them bit by bit has been huge.

Some other stuff. One of the newish people I met recently is ridiculously like me in a mental and emotional sense and in other ways. A while back we spent 10 or 12 hours on the phone (well, voice, but not the actual telephone) just talking. There was some stupid, s!lly shit, but things also got awfully deep and dark in places, for both of us. Sort of acting as intense, relentless psychotherapists towards each other. Knocking on doors in each other’s minds.

“Knock, knock.”

Haha, I brought him up when I was seeing my therapist this week – it’s been a while for various reasons – and described him a bit, and she was like, “Oh, he’s the perfect man for you.” She automatically jumped to the idea of love interest, and I was kind of like, “Hmm,” haha.

Hi JP – I don’t comment much, but always find what you write interesting. I am so glad that you are in a better state, both for yourself and for the fact that it gives me hope – my daughter has been struggling with anxiety and depression for some years. And yes, I agree, some cats are bodhisattvas. (though not when peeing on my bed).

@empliau:

Thanks.

the fact that it gives me hope – my daughter has been struggling with anxiety and depression for some years.

It can certainly be a long and rough road, but I do think there is hope. I don’t imagine I’m ever going to walk without a limp, metaphorically speaking, but I do sort of feel like an abscess has been lanced. It’s a hell of a relief.

Meds can help. Therapy can help. Supportive friends, and supportive family, which it sounds like she has, can be a big help. For a lot of people these things never entirely go away, but … Well, to use a metaphor, for a while a couple years ago I had pretty severe ulnar nerve damage in my left arm, to the point where the fourth and fifth fingers in my hand were stuck in a claw position and I couldn’t move or feel them. I finally got to see a neurologist, once I was back home from Yakima, and she did these electric tests and said I definitely had it, but the basic treatment was just to modify various habits, the way you sleep on your arm and rest your elbows and stuff, and just let time take its course and hope for the best.

Nerve damage takes a long time to heal, but eventually it did. I’ve read that with something like that, things actually never go exactly back to how they were before, but I have full functional use of my left hand again, as far as I can tell. A friend said something along the lines of the brain and nervous system being able to sort of reroute things and compensate.

And at least as far as depression and anxiety go, there’s a lot less stigma these days. People are talking about it, and that’s really good and important. Feeling like you’re all alone with that sh!t is just toxic.

Best wishes for your daughter.

JP:

I saw the kitteh on twitter. I won’t list your handle because- Newsflash- crappy people on the internet Would you like people like MJD or vinu bothering you?

nerve issues can be a bitch
about my cousin, Jenn:
a confluence may have also helped her- her father’s lot improved when he inherited money and cut back on alcohol so she has less problems minding him ( he never drank until he was in a serious accident at age 50)
She took a test for government jobs and attained one where she helps low income people acquire healthcare IIRC.
(Her degrees are in political science and government, no social work or similar -btw- )
plus she got better meds for depression AND new rabbits.

Need to re-introduce some science and real medicine into this. In TrumpWorld, science does not exist. Leaving aside the insane anti-vaxxers, remember this is the US now dominated by people who do not know what science is.

Please help those who are resisting insane anti-vaxxicers. Two clinics have opened up near me. I visited one yesterday. They did not even have a qualified RN. I was horrified. They could get away with having no RN on staff. I do not understand this at all. Could someone else explain this to me?!?? How does this happen in the US?!?

Distressed and seeking other explanations. I am going to sleep now and hope other people can help explain this.

“I see. You didn’t actually read the article.”

Thanks for the non-answer. However I did read it, and my question wasn’t answered by it, so I asked in the comments area. It seems to me vaccine denial runs across party lines, yet I often see posters and commenters here talking about granola types and so on when referring to those that deny vaccines. Regardless of which political party more heavily supports vaccines, why bring politics into a medical issue at all? Seems to be an attempt to smear those affiliated to a political party with a rather large brush. What’s the need to do so?

Regardless of which political party more heavily supports vaccines, why bring politics into a medical issue at all?

In this case the medical issue involves asking people to behave in a particular way and to spend money (both individually and collectively) for a particular purpose. By its very nature, that’s in the realm of politics.

“Regardless of which political party more heavily supports vaccines, why bring politics into a medical issue at all?”

Because it affects public health, and also economics. Some laws and regulations are created when a significant part of the population has been affected. Examples include when a lake next to a town becomes a putrid polluted and dangerous due to raw sewage that was pumped into it for decades. I can take a ten minute walk to the edge of a lake to see those actual pipes.

Sewers and treating the sewage before dumping seems like a good idea, right? Yet you will always get those who disagree. Two houses away from my house is the oldest house on the block, which was still hooked to a septic system until 1990. Victoria, BC is only now treating its waste water before dumping it into after decades of arguments about it:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/mr-floatie-retires-1.4102251

Need I mention fluoridated water? This is good time of year to watch “Dr. Strangelove.”

As far as vaccines goes, it has always been political. For a very good read into this as a public health issue try Pox: An American History by Michael Willrich.

“Seems to be an attempt to smear those affiliated to a political party with a rather large brush. What’s the need to do so?”

Well, when you have one party that is keen to destroy an act that helped millions of Americans to access medical just because the president who created it was “fill in insult here”, even though the basis was what Romney created in Massachusetts, then there seems to be a need to speak out. And vote.

“How well does this vaccine work?” is a medical issue, as is “should you vaccinate your child against measles?”

“Should vaccinations be mandatory for attending school?” and “should the government give this vaccine away free, and if so, to who?” are political issues, because they’re about what government (either in general, or a specific government like Quebec or New York City) should do.

It’s ridiculous–either incredibly ignorant or deliberately ignoring the facts–to claim that Orac is “bringing politics into” the issue by reporting on a political candidate’s anti-vaccine statements. Nor is Orac bringing politics into the issue by telling us that an anti-vaccine organization was working for a particular Republican candidate. An anti-vaccine group isn’t a garden club or choir that happens to have some anti-vaccine members: its purpose is to be anti-vaccine. And going door-to-door for a candidate is an inherently political act, not a non-political social activity.

Not everything is political, but a lot of us don’t have the luxury of pretending that nothing is, or that politics doesn’t affect us.

Considering the inputs from the “Lady of Reason” whose blog post was more a series of slogans rather than anything resembling “reason”, and this guy assuming that the USA is divided evenly (50%) between Republicans and Democrats, it seems they only see black and white, no nuances of gray nor any other color.

I recently listened to this interview with Aron Ra (paleontologist, science advocate in politics): http://theesp.eu/podcast_archive/theesp-ep-142-aron-ra.html

He mentioned that several people think they are “born” into a political party. Well, I can tell you from experience that neither my husband nor I fall into that category.

“Regardless of which political party more heavily supports vaccines, why bring politics into a medical issue at all?”

Seeing that leading antivaxers are touting political connections (to Trump and other Republicans), actively lobbying politicians (some of whom on the G.O.P. side respond by taking antivax positions under the guise of “health freedom”) and gleefully rooting on the Republican Party, the issue has already been politicized. Reporting the facts is not an attempt at demonizing one party, but a recognition of reality.

“Reporting the facts is not an attempt at demonizing one party, but a recognition of reality.”

Well it seems very unwise to me. Whichever side you choose, you’ve immediately made enemies of 50% of the population. Not sure how that benefits anyone. Its not like anyone is going to switch parties on account of vaccines.

Where do you get that 50% from? Even the percentage of male and female voters is not each 50%. Republicans cannot be 50% of the population when there are other choices. Since the 1990s I have refused to be associated with the Republicans for their denigration of single mothers, like my mother-in-law whose husband died when she had two young children (explained in more detail above). But I did not become a Democrat.

I live in a state where one has never had to declare a political affiliation to vote. It also happens to be the first state to implement this, with the US Supreme Court’s blessing:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonpartisan_blanket_primary

(one of our long term college friends group was a lawyer who was part of the team that lost that case at the Supreme Court, when he came to the next group dinner we all raised a glass praising his lost — he was chagrined, but smiled)

The reported facts was on a small number of candidates who seem to be catering to the anti-science crowd. We do know that there are Republicans who are not playing along with the anti-science bunch. That used to be most of them, but their numbers are dwindling.

Now, if you do not like Orac’s blog on politics, then you are really going to hate this one: https://www.thestranger.com/features/2018/10/10/33619203/the-strangers-endorsements-for-the-november-6-2018-general-election

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