Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Cancer… or votes?

Presumably those of my readers who aren't American aren't quite as transfixed by the Republican race for the Presidential nomination as I am. Feel free to skip this post. Ditto those who don't like to confront The Stupid.

You may have noticed that this year's contenders range from the unpleasant to the unbelievable. The dumber the candidate, the more chance they have to win. In the old patrician days, the Republican Party could talk down to the rednecks and take their votes for granted, meaning that an intellectual or a moderate stood a chance: Eisenhower stands out as a particularly respectable candidate.

But this lot are so dumb - or worse, cynical - that they've made a point of disavowing the basic things that most electorates want in a political leader: reason, discrimination, decent pragmatism, negotiating skills and above all, faith in government as a social structure which serves the people well.

There are two American models of government, and they both have their roots in the 18th century. One holds that government is the highest expression of collective human desires: altruism, pooled authority for the good of all, and so on. The other holds that community, and especially formal expressions of community such as laws, healthcare and so on, are automatically oppressive and injurious to individual human enterprise. From the first conception springs the Democratic Party and the old moderate wing of the Republicans. From the second springs the whack jobs currently running for office.

The most disgusting example of this total hatred for government was the candidates' exchange of fire over the Human Papilloma Virus vaccination, now given to adolescent girls in the UK, and available to them in the US. Texan governor Rick Perry bowed to the federal courts and allowed the vaccinations to go ahead in his state, against his political judgement - and he even allowed parents to opt out. In the most recent debate, we had the sickening sight of watching the other candidates, especially the know-nothing rabble-rouser Michele Bachmann, sententiously express their view that they'd rather the girls get cervical cancer than allow a democratically-elected government insist that they be vaccinated. Bachmann now claims that the vaccine causes mental retardation… which makes me wonder how many shots of it she took.

Of course the American political funding situation is a revolting other matter and they're all guilty: it's no coincidence that over 80% of American legislators are millionaires. Similarly, there's a debate about which particular vaccine should be used.

Unfortunately, I can't find an embeddable clip, but you really need to watch it.

So now you know. The Republicans would rather your daughter got cancer than accept government help. And they might win.


D said...


To add to this, the American Academy of Pediatrics has an interesting release about HPV, shared with me by a friend (American med-school student) in this format:

"Dear Michelle Bachman: 500k new cases of cervical cancer every year worldwide, 300k deaths. Every year. 90-95% of cervical cancers are due to HPV infection. 1 in 4 American women have HPV. Still think Gardosil is bad?"

The Plashing Vole said...

Thanks D. The problem is that a huge swathe of American voters is now uninterested in specifics, truth, or complication - and both parties, but particularly the Republicans - have accepted and even encouraged this.

It'll happen here before too long.

The Red Witch said...

But cervical cancer is a slow growing cancer and very treatable. The only reason to die of it is to not get check ups ever. And the vaccine doesn't guard against all forms of the virus that cause cervical cancer. Plus they are still using thimersol as a preservative. Considering there is no safe minimum exposure to mercury, I worry about that. I am not against vaccines but I don't trust the way research is being conducted these days. Large multinational pharmaceuticals have a way of getting treatments passed when their own research shows some red flags. The wolves are in charge of the hen house.
I don't like Bachmann (and I'm not American anyway) but forcing people to get these vaccines when there is some doubt about them seems like a money grab.