With all the protests, plagiarism allegations, and literal smoke that swirled around the Republican National Convention, it’s easy to forget about the drier parts—like approving the 2016 GOP platform. But you should probably read it, because more than any word salad Duck Dynasty dude or Scott Baio might have to offer, the Republican platform indicates the GOP grownup’s actual priorities. Same deal with the Democratic platform, passed on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

One of the Republican platform’s buzziest stances is that pornography “has become a public health crisis that is destroying the lives of millions.” Not that porn can’t be sleazy and problematic. But a crisis of public health? Like, say, Zika? Or opioid addiction? Or, you know, cancer?

To call porn a public health crisis is a category error that trivializes truly imminent threats to Americans’ health. Were that GOP plank to become policy, it could direct federal money away from the research and prevention efforts needed to keep the country safe. To be fair, pornography isn’t the only health threat Republicans identify. But the party’s language made us curious about how both Republicans and Democrats are contending with public health in their platforms. What we found was more political than scientific, with both parties playing fast and loose with the vocab that will help direct America’s research agenda.

The Opioid Epidemic

Some 2 million Americans are addicted to opiates, a problem that has stymied the government since the early 1900s. The opioid bill recently passed by Congress won’t be nearly enough. The GOP wants to “addres[s] the opioid epidemic from both the demand and supply sides of the problem.” The Dems are calling for “vastly expanding access to treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers.” Both platforms categorize America’s addiction to opioids the same way: as an “epidemic” and a “crisis.”

Getty Images

Some 2 million Americans are addicted to opiates, a problem that has stymied the government since the early 1900s. The opioid bill recently passed by Congress won’t be nearly enough. The GOP wants to “addres[s] the opioid epidemic from both the demand and supply sides of the problem.” The Dems are calling for “vastly expanding access to treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers.” Both platforms categorize America’s addiction to opioids the same way: as an “epidemic” and a “crisis.”

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

The United States’ response to antibiotic resistant bacteria is still in its infancy, and superbugs are increasingly a global problem. The Democratic platform is quiet on this issue specifically, but the GOP calls for public and private investment to tackle different pathogens, which aren’t labeled public health crises but “dangers” lumped in with Ebola, Zika, and chikungunya. In this case, the “danger” label is pretty minimizing—antibiotic resistant bacteria are cropping up everywhere from UTIs to Rio’s Olympic facilities, and they are definitionally difficult to treat—but nothing is more reductive than not mentioning the threat they pose at all.

Getty Images

The United States’ response to antibiotic resistant bacteria is still in its infancy, and superbugs are increasingly a global problem. The Democratic platform is quiet on this issue specifically, but the GOP calls for public and private investment to tackle different pathogens, which aren’t labeled public health crises but “dangers” lumped in with Ebola, Zika, and chikungunya. In this case, the “danger” label is pretty minimizing—antibiotic resistant bacteria are cropping up everywhere from UTIs to Rio’s Olympic facilities, and they are definitionally difficult to treat—but nothing is more reductive than not mentioning the threat they pose at all.

Mosquito-borne Diseases

Scientists have been battling these suckers for ages, and while mosquito-borne viruses like Zika don’t necessarily herald the apocalypse, there’s still a lot to be concerned about. The GOP doesn’t have specific language addressing mosquito-vectored viruses except for the “danger” designation above (both Zika and chikungunya, among many other pathogens, are carried by mosquitoes). The Democrats, on the other hand, say they plan to “limit the reach of Zikajust as we did with Ebolaand support funding for diagnostic tests for the virus, vaccine, and treatment.” They call Zika (and H1N1 and avian flu) “pandemics.”

Getty Images

Scientists have been battling these suckers for ages, and while mosquito-borne viruses like Zika don’t necessarily herald the apocalypse, there’s still a lot to be concerned about. The GOP doesn’t have specific language addressing mosquito-vectored viruses except for the “danger” designation above (both Zika and chikungunya, among many other pathogens, are carried by mosquitoes). The Democrats, on the other hand, say they plan to “limit the reach of Zikajust as we did with Ebolaand support funding for diagnostic tests for the virus, vaccine, and treatment.” They call Zika (and H1N1 and avian flu) “pandemics.”

Gun Violence

America has a lot of guns. They kill a lot of people, and there is very little data to shed light on the hows and the whys—not to mention violence prevention mechanisms. Unsurprisingly, this is where the parties and their language are most sharply divided. The Dems refer to gun violence as an “epidemic,” and beef up negative language like “dangerous” or “irresponsible.” The GOP’s stance is lengthy, but the essential sections repeat positive phrases like “law-abiding”: “We support firearm reciprocity legislation to recognize the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms … We oppose federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners.”

Getty Images

America has a lot of guns. They kill a lot of people, and there is very little data to shed light on the hows and the whys—not to mention violence prevention mechanisms. Unsurprisingly, this is where the parties and their language are most sharply divided. The Dems refer to gun violence as an “epidemic,” and beef up negative language like “dangerous” or “irresponsible.” The GOP’s stance is lengthy, but the essential sections repeat positive phrases like “law-abiding”: “We support firearm reciprocity legislation to recognize the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms … We oppose federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners.”

Cancer

Cancer gets a lot of press and powerful lobbyists, but despite a constant influx of new treatment ideas, it’s still here. The GOP characterizes cancer and diabetes as “killers,” and calls for researchers to “consider the needs of formerly neglected demographic groups.” For its part, the Democratic platform language points toward more funding: “We must make progress against the full range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, HIV and AIDS, cancer, and other diseases, especially chronic ones. We recognize the critical importance of a fully funded National Institutes of Health to accelerate the pace of medical progress.”

Getty Images

Cancer gets a lot of press and powerful lobbyists, but despite a constant influx of new treatment ideas, it’s still here. The GOP characterizes cancer and diabetes as “killers,” and calls for researchers to “consider the needs of formerly neglected demographic groups.” For its part, the Democratic platform language points toward more funding: “We must make progress against the full range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, HIV and AIDS, cancer, and other diseases, especially chronic ones. We recognize the critical importance of a fully funded National Institutes of Health to accelerate the pace of medical progress.”

Climate Change

Climate change is clearly not something US political parties can agree upon. The GOP platform language questions whether existing policies are truly scientific, classifying the UN Panel on Climate Change “a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution” whose “unreliability” is demonstrated by its “orthodoxy.” Democrats call for “immediate action to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases across our economy” and label climate change “an urgent threat”—the only time that the Dems lean on categorical language that is more political than scientific where the GOP does not.

Getty Images

Climate change is clearly not something US political parties can agree upon. The GOP platform language questions whether existing policies are truly scientific, classifying the UN Panel on Climate Change “a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution” whose “unreliability” is demonstrated by its “orthodoxy.” Democrats call for “immediate action to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases across our economy” and label climate change “an urgent threat”—the only time that the Dems lean on categorical language that is more political than scientific where the GOP does not.

Pollution

Few public health issues have been more politicized than pollution, whether you’re talking about land, water, or air. The GOP focuses on environmental successes, saying that “as a nation, we have drastically reduced pollution, mainstreamed recycling, educated the public, and avoided ecological degradation.” Democrats don’t label pollution a problem per se, but they do say that contaminants can increase “health and economic hardship,” making pollution more of a social challenge than a medical one. “As we saw in Flint, Michigan,” the platform reads, “low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately home to environmental justice “hot spots.”

Getty Images

Few public health issues have been more politicized than pollution, whether you’re talking about land, water, or air. The GOP focuses on environmental successes, saying that “as a nation, we have drastically reduced pollution, mainstreamed recycling, educated the public, and avoided ecological degradation.” Democrats don’t label pollution a problem per se, but they do say that contaminants can increase “health and economic hardship,” making pollution more of a social challenge than a medical one. “As we saw in Flint, Michigan,” the platform reads, “low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately home to environmental justice “hot spots.”

Obesity and Heart Disease

The GOP platform names diabetes amongst its “killers” and the Democrats talk about “promoting good health and wellbeing.” Neither party name-checks heart disease, the number one cause of death the world over, or obesity—an American epidemic that no one has managed to fix. There are few clearer signals that ultimately, political platforms stances on public health often have more to do with political expediency than science.

Getty Images

The GOP platform names diabetes amongst its “killers” and the Democrats talk about “promoting good health and wellbeing.” Neither party name-checks heart disease, the number one cause of death the world over, or obesity—an American epidemic that no one has managed to fix. There are few clearer signals that ultimately, political platforms stances on public health often have more to do with political expediency than science.

Original source: 

The Porn ‘Public Health Crisis’ Has Competition