A Statement On Abatement

Last week I spent a day in Springfield as part of a group gathered from across Illinois. It was composed of mosquito abatement professionals, university and health department scientists, representatives from respected insect control firms and at least one abatement district volunteer-trustee — me. We were in the state capitol to touch base with our respective state representatives and senators about the serious and continuing need to protect Illinois residents from diseases spread by mosquitos and ticks. 

And this week…I’m pretty much doing the same thing for two days in Washington D.C., with a much larger group of abatement advocates from every corner of the United States.

So why am I talking about this in a New Trier Dems newsletter? Well, the other day it struck me that my involvement with progressive politics and my interest in battling insect borne diseases has more in common than I had realized.

The first similarity that I thought of was how often over the years we abatement advocates have had to regularly counter misconceptions and exaggerations about what we are doing. Not too many years ago one of Chicago’s newspapers (you can guess which one) carried several guest editorials about the foolishness of tax dollars being squandered on tiny little mosquitos. — Then Zika came along and the vocal critics apparently gained some perspective. (West Nile should have been their wake up call.)

Misconceptions, exaggerations and downright stupidity have also been an enemy of progressive politics. Remember the “death panel” outcry when Universal Healthcare was proposed years ago? And how about America’s measles epidemic? — One more self-destructive result of conservative willful ignorance. Unfortunately, combatting untruthful accusations from reactionaries is a battle progressives are used to. But, as Stephen Colbert has said, “Facts have a liberal bias.”

A second parallel I’ve now perceived is how my political priorities and my mosquito interests share a number of common concerns. I’ll give you three examples.

Climate change: Mosquito abatement is feeling its impact with the appearance of insect-borne diseases in parts of America that were previously untouched. And climate change is also a political issue screaming for progressive legislation.

Health care: It is, of course, important to mosquito abatement; protecting the public’s health is the entire mission. And politically, having a nationwide public health system that can recognize the arrival of new insect-borne threats should be a progressive goal.

Higher education: Our country’s mosquito abatement efforts are going to require more entomologists expert in the study of vector borne disease. And politically, the efforts of progressives to open up education opportunities for thousands of bright young Americans is the obvious solution.

So as you can see, although I’ve been dividing a lot of my retirement years between thinking politics and thinking mosquitos, it hasn’t been a schizoid endeavor. In fact, I’ve concluded that both have been abatement activities. Sure, the targets were different but I think abatement is part of every progressive Democrat’s agenda.

For example, every Democrat I know wants to abate the widening gap between Americans who have no fear for their future and the millions of Americans whose families have lost the sense of security they once enjoyed — America needs Shrinking-Middle-Class Abatement.

And how about abating the stranglehold Mitch McConnell has on our democracy’s throat in 2020. The USA needs MMA! — Mitch McConnell Abatement.

But the best abatement activity of all will be when the role Donald Trump plays in our nation and the world gets reduced to zero. One way or another, I think we’ll see that day and our democracy will be much healthier for it.

Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973