Health of the Body Politic

An article about the economic implications of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. caught my eye, especially in light of Republican attempts to radically roll back health care coverage for middle class and poor Americans. Just in case you’re wondering, Memphis is the heaviest city in the country, and Mississippi is the most obese state in the nation. Trump country.

My thoughts segued to the opioid epidemic; apparently, West Virginia is having so many deaths from opioid overdose that the state is running out of money to bury them. Again, Trump country.

Then there is Omaha, where the mayor is contemplating returning some of the city’s paved roads to gravel because the money to fix potholes or repave streets simply isn’t there, and projects like this aren’t likely to find their way into Trump’s infrastructure priorities — if that bill ever happens. We’re still in Trump country.

You can add the fact that the majority of Americans can’t name the three branches of the federal government, or identify the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Heck, most Americans probably couldn’t pass the exam required of those who want to become citizens.

There are lots of systematic ways to measure the health of a nation, and these data points that struck me are pretty random and unconnected. But I think they are telling. We are not, as a nation, in robust shape. We are more politically polarized than ever, people are angry, and FP has an article up inquiring how many readers think there might be armed insurrection, a modern-day civil war, within the next few years.

We need a healer-in-chief as our next president, and I can’t see that such a person has yet emerged. I live in hope.

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