Visual Explanations of Politics

Some controversial policy questions, though deeply divisive, are at least easy to understand as questions.  Arguably abortion and same-sex marriage fall into this category.  I think that most people understand the policy decisions that are at stake and they can quickly offer moral arguments to support their views. 

However, whenever the issue involves a cost-benefit analysis, or the comparison of complex institutions, ordinary citizens can be at a loss.  And, for the record, I count myself in that category. I am interested in finding innovative ways to educate myself (and others) about complex political issues.  This post is, I hope, the first in a series I will make about self-education and the resources that are available, especially on the web.

 One current example of a complex issue is health care reform.  Yes, there are aspects of the debate that everyone probably understands—like whether or not abortion will be covered.  But what about the different possible plans and the impact each will have on the different sectors of society?  Even if one particular plan is chosen, it’s good to know about what options were rejected.  And if legislation doesn’t pass, the issue may crop up again.

 Of course, there is plenty of written material about the ongoing wrangling in Washington, but I am looking for something more immediately accessible.  My first thought was to find a vivid visual depiction of the issues at stake. 

 I quickly discovered that a citizen-based project to put together a film called “Health Care: A Visual Explanation” failed to secure funding back in September.

Here are a couple of less ambitious projects that were executed:

 At the New Republic, a chart of the current health care system:

On the blog Digital Roam, health care is explained “on the back of a napkin”:

Finally, in the course of my search, I also discovered this blog, which looks like a good general resource for innovative visual depictions of information.

1 Comment

  1. lauren Said,

    December 17, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

    These are great! I especially like the napkins; cute and clear. :) Plus I’m in the midst of doing a post on information visualization for the HeadLamp Research blog, so I’m looking forward to exploring that last link.