presidential election

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Opinion: Why Evolution Politics Favor The Democrats

Here’s a pro-Obama (or at least pro-Democrats) argument you probably haven’t heard: evolution favors mutual support and group efforts over fierce individualism and autonomy. At least that’s the case being made in a piece today on “evolution politics” by Walter C. Clemens, Jr., political science professor emeritus at Boston University and an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and Stuart A. Kauffman, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, currently teaching at the University of Vermont.

(rtppt/flickr)

In their piece for WBUR’s Cognescenti, the authors ask the question: “Which works better — rugged individualism or mutual aid?” Here’s their response:

Republicans champion self-reliance. Most Democrats also extol hard work — but agree with former President Bill Clinton that “we’re all in this together.” This view, Clinton told the Democratic National Convention in Sept., “is a better philosophy than, ‘you’re on your own.’”

The science of evolution supports the notion that self-centered autonomy generally leads to dead ends. Survival requires mutual aid. Today’s life scientists see that evolution is not the Jack London-social Darwinist version of nature that many Republicans embrace. To be sure, individuals and entire species compete for scarce resources, but all of life — from the biosphere to the econosphere — is filled with mutualisms that facilitate a diverse abundance. Continue reading

Debating Health Care: When I Screamed Loudest At The TV

Pretty much everyone agrees that Romney’s aggressive performance during last night’s debate is the story of the day. As The New York Times’ Tim Egan put it: “Romney was loaded with the Mormon equivalent of Red Bull, and it showed.” (That aggression may be undermined by the army of fact-checkers questioning some of Romney’s assertions, but that’s another story.)

What it will mean for the nation (and for health care) remains unclear. But here, in an admittedly partisan assessment, is the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nancy Turnbull on, among other things, when she yelled loudest at the TV and when her frustration levels peaked:

My top 5 health care moments in the debate:

1. Most frustrating discussion
President Obama did not effectively counter Governor Romney’s untrue claim that federal health reform is being financed in part by robbing $716 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund (including failing to point out that that the budget plan of Governor Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, has the same reductions in future Medicare rates for hospitals, health plans and certain other providers). This one is complicated but the President has to have a comprehensible and effective way to rebut it.

2. Ingenue performance
Governor Romney was coy, to be polite, about his support for a Medicare voucher system, and Jim Lehrer was far too polite in his attempts to get Governor Romney to be more forthright. I wished Martha Bebinger had been moderating.

3. Go Bay State
Massachusetts provided one of the few points of agreement all night: Both candidates said that health coverage reform in Massachusetts has been a great success.

4. Moment when I screamed loudest at the TV
Governor Romney claimed that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 20 million Americans will lose their health insurance if federal reform is implemented. The CBO estimate is actually that 32 million more Americans will have health insurance.

5. Biggest foreign policy gaffe of the night
Governor Romney’s lack of experience and knowledge in foreign affairs was apparent when he said that “America has the best health care record in the world.”

Here, if you’re still in the mood, is the full debate transcript on ObamaCare, courtesy Kaiser Health News.
Please add your own top moments and we’ll post them throughout the day.