Friday, February 3, 2012

It's All Politics

In the wake of this Planned Parenthood fiasco, I've been doing some reading on the Susan G. Komen foundation. I've found their aggressive marketing to be somewhat obnoxious, and their legal policing of their trademark to be abhorrent. They also spend quite a bit of their donor money on lobbyists. Lastly, this whole ordeal has restored a bit a faith in the progress our politics has made on the issue of women's health (although there's still quite a ways to go).

Just something that's been irking me with the Daily Kos reaction piece, and in passing opinions I've read, is the call to "rise above" politics and embrace the cause of advocacy for breast cancer survivors, patients, etc. For example, "Dr. Susan Love, MD, weighs in on the controversy":
Rather than putting politics into the breast cancer movement, lets rise above the political divisions and work together. Let’s redirect all the money that will be spent on investigating Planned Parenthood into funding studies looking to find the cause and prevent the disease once and for all. Let’s redirect our anger to making mammograms unnecessary because we know how to prevent the disease. (emphasis mine - JMG)
Now I think this is an excellent idea. I'd love it if we did not waste our time with frivolous investigations based more on political point scoring than actual concern for women's health. But I'm sure Rep. Stearns (R-Fl) believes his investigation is an important component of his job as a representative of his constituents. Moreover, the very act of deciding whether to fund Planned Parenthood investigations or breast cancer studies is a political one. The choice to divert taxpayer dollars to subsidize breast cancer research over testicular cancer research, or pancreatic cancer research, is a political one too. The choice to give cancer charities, and all charities tax-free status benefits is also a political choice.

I understand politics is awful is awful and that we hate it. But we have to understand that these types of questions are by definition of a political nature. We can't just avoid that, or "rise above" it; it's all politics. Until we embrace that (and maybe even if we do), we are just going to keep repeating these patterns.

(Bonus: Barbra Ehrenreich's excellent Harper's Bazzar piece on the SGK Foundation, Welcome to Cancerland)

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