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Monday, September 23, 2013

Who needs good health anyway?

by digby

I've been a long-time observer of right wing thinking (my whole life, actually) and thought I had them pretty well nailed. But I have been surprised by the level of hostility toward the health care plan and even more by their hysterical reaction to Michelle Obama's anodyne "cause" --- childhood obesity. I shake my head in wonder every time I see them lose their heads over her trying to get kids to eat more vegetables.

Amanda Marcotte's piece today at RH Reality Check is a revelation on this subject. She points out that conservatives have been coming to the position that medicine --- indeed, health itself --- is a liberal plot and points to the anti-choice zealots as the ones who pioneered this bizarre philosophy. She uses that strange Koch Brothers funded "Generation Opportunity" Uncle-Sam-in-your-crotch ad as a perfect example of the philosophical synergy they've achieved:
The ugly, hostile attitude toward medical professionals that’s evident in the Generation Opportunity ad is quite reminiscent of the hostility toward the medical profession that has been part of the anti-choice movement since protesters began picketing abortion clinics. Bloody fetus pictures are waved around, with the implication being clear: Since surgery is gross, it’s best avoided, even if you dislike the alternative. One of the absolute most common tactics among anti-choicers is to demonize abortion and contraception care as painful, scary, and gross—as if the alternative of pregnancy and childbirth is a walk in the park.

No surprise, then, that Generation Opportunity hired the former vice president of Americans United for Life. If you want someone with a lot of experience trying to scare people out of getting the care necessary for them to have full, healthy lives, then of course you call an anti-choice activist. They’ve been leading the way on trying to intimidate Americans from getting health care.

It’s not just the anti-choicers, of course. For years now, there’s been a streak of conservative rhetoric that is openly suspicious of health itself, especially the idea that everyone—whether rich or poor—deserves good health. There’s always been a tendency to be hostile toward good health on the right, though it only cropped up on those occasions where there was a conflict between big business and people’s health. Conservatives consistently defend corporate profits over people’s health in battles over things like pollution, tobacco, gun safety, and now junk food. But in recent years, this tendency has taken a turn toward the radical side, with the very concept of healthiness increasingly becoming an object of scorn and mockery on the right, with dark intimations that a healthy lifestyle is somehow a threat to their nebulous, ill-defined concept of “freedom.”

Indeed, it’s common for anti-choicers to imply that using contraception is a form of “enslavement.” No wonder the same notion—that voluntarily choosing to take care of your health is somehow a capitulation to fascism—cropped up with the attacks on Michelle Obama’s healthy eating programs.
Unfortunately, this idea that promoting health  "enslaves" the masses isn't entirely confined to the right. There are plenty of liberals who bridle at anyone telling them that access to unlimited cheap junk food isn't a constitutional right. But I think she's right that this antipathy to the very concept of good health, whether it be getting kids to eat vegetables or allowing women to have access to reproductive services, is rapidly becoming a fundamental tenet of conservatism. It's not that they don't think government should promote good health through programs, laws and communication, although they certainly don't believe that. They don't think people need to be or necessarily should be healthy.

That's rather shocking, isn't it? And yet I think it's true. They don't see good health as a value that affects every human being's ability to live fully in this world. In fact they are hostile to the very concept. Wow.