"What unites Americans is far more negative."
The jarring words of Jeffrey Lurie's TIME editorial in which the Philadelphia Eagles owner broke form from his peers in making a strong political statement on Washington, America, and the downfalls of contemporary political discourse. The piece primarily functioned as a call to arms for Washington to band together to fight Autism.
"So now, let’s talk about autism as one example. We are in the midst of the single largest developmental disorder epidemic in our country and around the globe. Autism is now being identified at a rate of 1 in 68 births. The costs of treatment and services needed are beyond the abilities of most families. The disorder touches every socioeconomic, racial and gender grouping. Historically, it has been underfunded and hence, under-researched and misunderstood. But with a more comprehensive research agenda, we can uncover both the genetic and environmental influences on brain development which will have enormous implications for autism and other developmental disorders.
We have the opportunity, right now, to do what America is great at: devoting the best minds and necessary resources to tackle the human puzzles that cause so much suffering. Artificial intelligence, computer science, advanced data mining, biomedical science, genetics … the list goes on and on where our country is at the forefront and our people are ready to engage.
All we are lacking is leadership. Imagine if Republicans and Democrats put down their swords just for a day to create a comprehensive multi-disciplinary, multi-occupational effort to solve the mysteries of Autism and uncover groundbreaking treatments. Imagine how we would benefit from understanding aspects of the autistic brain that can include rare mathematical, creative and other cognitive abilities that may well enhance our own brain power and human potential."
Lurie has a personal connection to autism, as it has affected his family. His passion for giving care to those affected has driven his philanthropy. Lurie gave 2.5 million dollars to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia six years ago and the Eagles Charitable Foundation gave one million last summer to aid those affected by autism. Beyond autism, Lurie has been incredibly involved in the Philadelphia community and also national politics, donating money to the Hillary Clinton Campaign during the 2016 election. During last season, the Eagles notably supported their players protesting police brutality during the National Anthem. Needless to say, it is obvious Lurie has a strong, progressively minded connection to the political world and his words on autism struck a greater chord about American politics.
We would like to think that something as seemingly apolitical as autism would be incredibly easy to rally behind combating. Like Lurie said, the numbers show that no one is free from the chances of autism, so what would be the political motivation to not wanting bipartisan unity to stop it or help those affected. Unfortunately, in 2017, not even the health of American people is apolitical anymore. Just this week, the AHCA failed to get votes to replace the ACA as America's health care system. According to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, the AHCA would have taken health care coverage away from 24 million Americans who were insured under the ACA. This is not to say the ACA is a perfect policy, its not, but the fact that there was an expedited effort from Republicans to kill the ACA because of its being a "Democratic" policy instead of wanting to reform it led to a slapdash bill that not even many House Republicans wanted.
This is the point of American politics that we are at. The health of American citizens is being monetized and politicized and when things are assigned binaries of "Democratic" and "Republican" it makes it impossible for anyone to see the nuance in anything.
"What unites Americans is far more negative."
This has been a longstanding truth in American history and could not be even more true than now. The sitting president ran his campaign on making his supporters fear an "other." Be it Mexicans, Muslims or Democrats, Donald Trump used fear mongering to consolidate his base around him because he had the solution to all of these "problems." The Democrats engage in this too. Hillary Clinton's television campaign was almost entirely bereft of policy and all about the bad things Donald Trump would say, creating a dynamic of "Lesser of Two Evils." Politics has become a team sport where your party is always the Eagles and the other party is always the Cowboys.
Lurie wants every issue to stop being a Democratic and Republican issue. He supports autism research not because Democrats support autism research, he supports it because autism is a debilitating condition that the richest country in the world should be able to dedicate massive resources to fighting.
Lurie did not silence Malcom Jenkins because the racial inequality that Jenkins wanted to speak on should never be a partisan issue (though it has become one).
Regardless if you're a Democrat, Republican, leftist, tea partier or otherwise, it is nearly impossible to disagree with what Lurie is saying. Human issues should not be politicized. Humanity should be up for debate. Be it sickness, racism, poverty or education, there are people's livelihood's at risk and until conversations about solutions start with the helping the human beings affected and not the cost of doing so, politics can start moving in a positive direction.