Saturday, May 2, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Political Insomnia

National politics these days apparently does not know how
to sleep. Like insomnia, this is not a healthy condition, and
I suspect the U.S. body politic suffers for it.

Keeping us up, I think, are too many cups of media caffeine.
The current medical crisis leads often too easily to contrived
anxiety, finger-pointing, scare-mongering, fake news, rumors
and premature conclusions. Each of these can be politicized,
especially in an election year, especially in THIS election year.

Former Pennsylvania Governor and first Secretary of
Homeland Security Tom Ridge, a Republican, recently
made an eloquent plea for older veterans. other vulnerable
elderly, and health care providers in an April 29 op ed in
USA Today. He argues for patience and compassion, not
politics, on the issue of when and how to end shutdowns.
Others have persuasively argued that those who politicize
this issue by demanding the shutdowns be extended
indefinitely (to their benefit in the coming elections) are
ignoring the economic and psychological well-being of those
in the small business community and those of all ages who
are made vulnerable by isolation. Former Democratic
Congressman Tim Penny thoughtfully suggested in March
that shutdowns be targeted at infection “hot spots” such as
nursing  and retirement homes, as well as crowded urban
areas,  and not necessarily universally. Like Tom Ridge, Tim
Penny opts for practical and commonsense solutions instead
of political ones.

Some medical experts have apparently seriously
overestimated the impact of the medical crisis on the
general population, but there is no doubt about the heavy
impact on the elderly and medically vulnerable.

The solution is to apply common sense, ingenuity, reliable
data, compassion, and the good will of the community.
Politics, temporary inconvenience, grandstanding, too much
haste or too much delay lead us away from the best courses
of public health security.

The president, federal health agency chiefs, and governors
each have sobering and difficult decisions to make in this
crisis. They each have political roles, but this is not a
political crisis --- it’s a medical crisis.

There is plenty of time for politics later.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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