In the Fall of 2014, the hot new crisis de jour was the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa. From a public health point of view, the best way to keep the Western world safe was fairly boring and straightforward.
- Help Western Africa treat their victims
- Minimize the spread of Ebola from the current infection pool to future potential infection pools
- Send public health workers, nurses and doctors to support, reinforce and aid public health systems at risk of being overwhelmed.
- Send drugs
- Send money
- Monitor for infection of travelers to Western Africa.
- Don’t panic
This is a standard response to epidemics — contain the current pool, quarantine immediately at risk populations, and reduce the spread to new populations. It is also boring as hell.
The Republican Party collectively shit the bed and advocated policy solutions of flight bans, visa restrictions, quarantines for American medical personnel who were asymptomatic and lots of other things that would have made the actual problem on the ground worse.
And the Republican Party used Ebola as a fear inducing agent of the other, and picked up a boat load of seats in the mid-term. And then Ebola dropped from the political discourse by lunchtime on Wednesday after the election.
As Betty noted down-blog, it looks like radicalization will be the Ebola of 2015/2016. Policies that actually address the problem are seen as weak and ineffective and don’t re-assure fearful Americans, so we’ll compete to be stupid and counter-productive.