The Washington Post (12/16/22) had a recent headline: “Can Politics Kill You? Research Says the Answer Increasingly Is Yes.” And the lead of the article, by Akilah Johnson, told readers of two studies that reveal what it calls “an uncomfortable truth”:
The toxicity of partisan politics is fueling an overall increase in mortality rates for working-age Americans.
But when you read further into the article, you find that politics is not really the problem here. One of the studies, the Post reported, found that “people living in more conservative parts of the United States disproportionately bore the burden of illness and death linked to Covid-19.” The other found that “the more conservative a state’s policies, the shorter the lives of working-age people.”
So the problem is not so much “politics” as it is conservatism. Indeed, the article noted that one of the reports found “if all states implemented liberal policies” on the environment, guns, tobacco, and other health-related policies, 170,000 lives would be saved a year.
Still, the analysis in the piece centered around the idea that it is not right-wing ideology, but lack of bipartisanship, that is to blame—as in, “The division in American politics has grown increasingly caustic and polarized.”
You know what would actually benefit politics in the United States? A media system that was willing to point out who was causing demonstrable problems, rather than pretending that “both sides” are always to blame.
Reporting like that could actually save lives.
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams and was authored by Jim Naureckas.