This is the second in my daily series of arguments about why you should vote for Obama and the Democrats.
Each day will have a different theme. Today's theme is science. (Yesterday's was the Republicans' cynical strategy, which would be awful to make into a successful precedent.)
Basically, science is tremendously important in today's world, and only one of the two parties supports it on a consistent basis. The key with science is that it is itself consistent. If you believe science has led us to be able to make ships that fly into space and bombs that blow up cities and medicine that eradicates polio, then you also have to believe what it says about evolution, climate change, and everything else.
Science is basically observation, measurement, prediction, and testing. It's not subjective, it's not wishful thinking. It's a description of the real world.
Democrats consistently support science. They support evolution science, which is one of the most strongly-proven theories in science. They support climate change science, which is also among the most strongly-proven theories in science. They support research into new energy sources and pure research in general. They also support stem cell research, vaccines, and many other aspects of medical science. In doing so, they pave the way for a general improvement of American life and health, and for our leadership in the world economy.
Republicans, unfortunately, let religion and commerce get in the way. They selectively don't believe in some theories (or at least say they don't), even though it is impossible to just pick and choose which theories you want to believe. Science is not like religion. In religion, you can pick and choose what religion you want to believe in. Once you pick a religion, you can decide which sect you want to belong to. Basically, you can chose your religious ideas based on what feels right to you. In science, you either believe in all of it, or none of it, and if you believe in none of it, you have to explain why observation, prediction, and testing doesn't work as a process.
For instance with evolution, we control the evolutionary processes in various microscopic organisms (bacteria, viruses, etc.) as we manipulate them into medicines and vaccines. Republicans take medicine when they're sick, just like anyone else, but somehow don't believe that the evolutionary processes involved in bacteria are the same as they are in humans. Democrats do not engage in this kind of selective-science hypocrisy.
Evolution is extraordinarily important because when Republicans try to block its teaching in schools, they are replacing science--something objective--with religion--something personal and, from the point of view of many, false. Evolution is the foundation for all of modern biology. The rest of the world understands and accepts evolutionary science. When we hold our kids back from understanding it, we are holding them back from understanding biology in general, and thus holding our entire country back from creating the new leading scientists in this field, and biology will continue to be a very important field of science in the future. We really need new scientists in order to push our country into the future. Scientists create entire new industries. They affect the health of the country. Their research leads to our tools and communications systems and our transportation. If we don't have scientists, we will lose any chance of having a first-rate economy. It's simple: Democrats are the party that is helping to keep us on track to lead the world in science. They work to make sure our schools are serious when it comes to science, and don't let religion sidetrack our students. They are constantly trying to invest money in education in general, while Republicans are trying to cut the Department of Education. Democrats are trying to invest in general pure research in science, while Republicans don't even believe in federal spending in the abstract anymore. We got where we are today because we invested in pure science, and we need the Democrats to keep us in this race.
Climate change is probably the most important issue in the world today. If it continues to get worse, it will kill enormous numbers of people from famine and floods, and will ruin our food production, our air, our infrastructure. The fact that there is climate change, and that it is caused by humans, has almost universal support among scientists, but Republicans routinely call it a myth. Climate change has been getting worse. Previously, it was assumed that it might not have real effects for another couple decades. However, it is becoming more and more of a consensus that it is happening now. It is true that we cannot tell if any particular storm, etc., is caused by climate change. But we CAN tell that changes in overall weather patterns are caused by climate change. There is no doubt that the ice is melting faster than expected, that storms are becoming worse and more unpredictable. It is having an effect on food production, plant cycles, animal migration and all kinds of things NOW. Democrats understand this and are trying to do something about it. Republicans are trying to block it.
Romney has said, inaccurately, that there is no scientific consensus on the human involvement in climate change. Both he and Paul Ryan have said they would roll back EPA regulations intended to slow climate change.
Why? This time it's not about religion, it's about commerce. Republicans are huge allies of the fossil fuel industry. They won't do anything that has to do with cutting or regulating it. And this has to be done. They also believe in "personal freedom," which they define as "no one should be able to tell you what to do unless you're hurting someone else." The thing is, we ARE hurting someone else--we are all hurting EVERYONE by our actions. We need to all take action and sacrifice, or we are all screwed. The Democrats understand this. The Republicans are opposed to this kind of action on principle. So not only do they say they are against changing the fuel industry, they deny the science behind climate change. They just do not see science as an objective thing that can be tested.
This ties into alternative energy. Democrats support and put an emphasis on research into green energy, and also support the government funding companies that are doing it. The Republicans say this is "picking winners and losers." Honestly, the government has always picked winners and losers, and it should. The winners should be the companies that make energy that isn't going to kill us and our kids. That shouldn't be all that controversial. We have ALWAYS funded companies that do things that we see as being in the national interest. Republicans say they're for clean energy in theory, but they put no money into it, and keep making excuses about how it's fine and all, but this just isn't the time to do it. They just don't support science.
This all boils down to two things:
1) Republicans deny the objectivity of science.
2) Republicans don't support real investing in science, without which our economy has no chance of continuing the be a world leader.
Meanwhile, Obama has done things like appointing the first national Chief Technology Officer to oversee the country's tech policies, repealing the stem cell restrictions, put $18 billion of stimulus money into nondefense R&D, invested in private space flight research, invested in science education, included a Nobel-winning physicist in his Cabinet, invested in clean energy, and made sure the Affordable Care Act made insurance companies make their decisions based on health science.
Obama is endorsed by all the major environmental groups due to his support of science, education, and work on climate change. Nature, one of the most respected science journals in the world, has written an editorial endorsing Obama over Romney purely due to their respective approaches to science. Or, if that's not enough, last week 68 Nobel laureates wrote a public letter endorsing Obama's science policies over Romney's, saying that Obama understands the important role science plays in public life, and that Romney does not, an that their policies reflect those understandings. And one last tidbit: the Republicans' lack of support is so terrible that only 6% of scientists are Republican!
If it's important to you that government respects the objectivity of science, that we as a country invest in research in order to keep our place in the world of science and our place in the world economy, that we put an emphasis on real science education instead of science that has been watered down by religion and business concerns, then you need to vote for Obama and the Democrats, because they are the ones who are going to deliver those priorities.
Finally, I'd like to point out, as I did yesterday, that I was a registered Republican for 15 years and am now an independent (partly because of the reasons above), and I've happily voted for Republicans, Democrats, and various third party candidates for years. But it is completely clear to me that if I want science to be respected and valued, the Democrats are the only game in town.