Cross-posted from Truthdig
It is hardly controversial to say that one of the big turnoffs about American politics is its disconnect with even the most grim human consequences. No matter how serious the issue, the political class seems pathologically determined to present everything as a fun-and-games, red-versus-blue battle whose only important consequences have to do with the next election. As politicians, operatives and reporters focus primarily on the horse-race discussion of ever-more-grave issues, the life-and-death human ramifications for millions of people are effectively written out of our democratic discourse.
There are plenty of examples of this odious dynamic, but perhaps this era's textbook case comes from a recent article in Politico magazine about natural gas exploration in Colorado -- and more specifically, the extractive process known as fracking.
The context for the article is key: It appeared only weeks after the release of a Colorado School of Public Health study showing a potential link between birth defects and proximity to Colorado fracking sites. That study followed others showing possible links between fracking in Colorado and health hazards such as water and air pollution.
Birth defects and toxic pollution -- this is serious and macabre stuff. You might therefore think that politicians would refrain from insinuating that such issues are important only for how they might affect the next election. You might also think that even the most hardened politicos would be sure to at least pay lip service to the idea that actual lives -- not just professional politicians' careers -- are at stake.