This Is What Happens When You Politicize an Illness

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COVID-19 has been the bane of all lives around the world now for most of the year, and even when it started is a point of political contention. In fact, everything about the illness seems to have been politicized. It’s been made part of government policy, and it has become one of the central, most contentious hotbeds of political fights we face. Unfortunately, there has been almost no positive result from it becoming a part of the political landscape.

In the US, it has somehow fallen bizarrely along dominant party lines. It has become a part of the presidential campaign. The policy reforms from COVID-19 sometimes result in recall elections, protests, even riots that have Republicans and Democrats at each others’ throats more than any other time. An infectious disease should be considered apolitical. The approach to any disease should fall within the realm of the medical world, with doctors and scientists discussing how best to address it medically. It belongs in labs, not in government buildings, with politicians deliberating the best way to use it to their advantage politically.

It doesn’t matter how serious a threat you believe COVID-19 represents or what you believe the responses should be; trusting politicians to keep you safe from a disease is now and never has been a good way of containing it. Do you really want politicians, with their own personal agendas getting in the way, to be in charge of helping to prevent the spread of an illness? If cancer were communicable and we let politicians manage the situation, we’d all be dead by now.

Regardless of what you believe about masks, what you think about social distancing, or what you believe businesses and people should or should not do regarding COVID-19, your government representatives don’t care. They care about what you perceive. There’s a big difference.

A politician may start out with wonderful intentions (though many don’t) to do the best they can to represent either an encompassing political philosophy with goals they’ve made clear to the public, or to best repent the desires of their constituents, whoever they may be. Rarely is it the latter, but nearly always the former.

However, as they become more involved in the political system, the discovery gets made that the only way to further a political agenda is with the help of other politicians. The way you obtain that help is by helping them with the things they want. Sounds great at first, but the politicians who hold the most power and can accomplish the most things got that way by making their goal to accumulate power – not by trying to do right by their constituents. That doesn’t get you any power.

So, the fresh politician has to cave in on things he doesn’t support, then present his constituents with a few things he accomplished that he does support. Eventually, he figures out that he can’t do what he needs to without obtaining more power and influence. And then, we have a vicious circle that we currently know as politics.

Your government representatives serve you only indirectly. They don’t work for what you want. They work for getting enough power that they can convince you they are getting you what you want. Politics is just about perceptions. As long as your constituents think you’re doing what you promised, that’s all that matters. And, fighting with the other tribe only serves to provide a boogeyman on whom to lay blame when things don’t happen. The system is rigged to keep you in the dark with every part of it having motive to do so.

So now, we have an illness for which cures and preventions are being determined by political expediencies. We have allowed ourselves to take the treatment and prevention of illness away from scientists and doctors, and we have allowed the politicians to do with it as they will. Instead of reading about how best to avoid COVID-19, we are finding our favorite political slant in articles and reading those. We are pushing doctors and scientists into politics and forcing them to take political sides, which has never been a good idea.

If you really want to fight COVID-19 and try to prevent its spread, then immediately begin demanding that politicians step aside. Take away their ability to set policy regarding infectious diseases, and keep them out of it. For those supportive of stopping the spread through closures and restricting public gatherings, it can be tempting to place that in the hands of government to force it to happen. For those against people making you wear a mask and against people forcing businesses to close, it’s tempting to call on your government representatives to pass new laws to fight back. However, the best course of action is simply to let the brilliance of individuals and private enterprise do as they have always done: Create the most efficient and best means of delivering what people want and need on their own.

If you’re on the political right, don’t go crying to your legislator to ask them to draft a new bill. They will just use you to create something you didn’t intend. If you’re on the political left, you’re not going to get the protection from disease you seek from a politician with their own agenda, and you will also be relying on people who solidly disagree with you to enforce the things you want, even though they are dead-set against them (how’s that working out for ya?).

The political arena is no place for the treatment of infectious diseases, and the effects of illnesses like COVID-19 are not going to be tremendously diminished until we take these policies away from the politicians and interpret and practice what we have learned from non-politicized sources as individuals.

You simply can’t prevent or cure disease by forcing your ideas about how to do it onto others. That squeezes out new ideas that may work even better. When you force one set of ideas onto people, new ideas no longer get heard. When you politicize disease prevention and cure, then your answers all influenced not by what is best for you, but by protecting the power of your tribe.

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Danny Chabino

Danny Chabino has a background in operating small businesses. He has been involved in managing and/or owning the operations of multiple retail establishments, a sub-prime lending company, a small insurance company, a small telemarketing venture, and insurance consulting. In addition to these activities, he also has spent many years managing investments in stocks and stock options as a successful trader. He is the married parent of two adult children, living as a proud lifelong Oklahoman and a part-time redneck. Danny writes for the enjoyment and pleasure of sharing ideas and for the love of writing itself. His opinions skew libertarian, but he enjoys hearing open debate and listening to or reading of opposing ideas. As an odd confession, he personally detests politics, but enjoys writing about political ideals and philosophies.

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