Bioethics Blogs

Identity politics, partisanship and healthcare by Maria Cecilia Dedios

The problem of intense polarization in politics -and in society more generally- has been on the spotlight for several months now. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve been bombarded by headlines, arguments, and op-eds that show the extent to which this polarization is impacting something that should not –at least in principle- be a matter of partisanship: The provision of healthcare for the American people. How did we get here? This month the web round-up focuses on some attempts at answering this question in various online outlets.


To begin with, there seems to be very different understandings of health along party lines, either as a right or as a commodity. One side understands health care similar to a right, arguing for equity in access to health care based on the idea of a societal obligation towards those who can’t afford access to health care, arguing that health care access represents a way to provide equal opportunities to everyone. The other side sees health care as a commodity, something that each person can freely decide whether to acquire or not. Also, this argument goes, the government should and could not pick up the bill when it comes to cover health care for all. That, the right argues, would be a government overstep with no constitutional basis.


Things are further complicated by identity politics, which is one of the most complex issues to deal with in relation to political polarization. Because the discussion becomes about who you are, and things are framed in an “us vs.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.