Update, 22 September, 2020:
Lucas Acosta. “Amy Coney Barrett is an Absolute Threat to LGBTQ Rights,” HRC, 22 September, 2020.
UPDATE, 18 September, 2020: Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died. It is exceptionally painful that she did so on Erev Rosh Hashanah, a time that is supposed to be focused on renewal. At the moment, I feel as if my hope has vanished. The federal judiciary is already stuffed with TWO HUNDRED white, male, ultra-conservative judges who are lifetime appointees — ten of whom are considered unqualified by the ABA¹ — and who will inexorably make their way up the ranks, gaining more and more power as they go. We don’t feel it much now because the current judges in the upper echelons are more centrist or liberal than the ones snapping at their heels. The damage will affect generations to come — if our country, our species even lasts that long. Justice Ginsburg made it known. that
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg told her granddaughter just days before her death, according to NPR.²
Despite this last wish of a revered, iconic hero, despite McConnell’s conveniently forgotten assertion that justices should not be confirmed in an election year,³ McConnell and Trump have already declared that they WILL shove another judge onto the bench.
I am terrified. I see the erosion and eradication of reproductive rights, women’s rights, and voting rights, the suppression of social justice for Black/BIPOC Americans, for the LGBTQ+ community, for those of us who adhere to minority religions or no religion at all. I see support for corrupt politics that are driven by wealth, the continued degradation of the environment in get name of “the economy,” as if we can have an economy if we can’t live on the planet.
Call your senators. E-mail your senators. Write. your senators. Drop in on your senators. And VOTE.
The constant denigration by elected officials of our leading researchers, of those who base their arguments on reason and evidence, erodes confidence in the science and research that produce the tested cures we need, that keep us safe from chemicals and pollutants, that track the food we eat. Remember last year when there was a sudden decision to shift USDA researchers from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City? That was an ill-advised move because
“Moving these researchers out of Washington puts them out of earshot from policymakers. A lot of the research that scientists and economists do at [the USDA] has policy implications, and members of Congress need this information and need to have face-to-face meetings with these researchers,” Rebecca Boehm, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Hill.
“It keeps science out of the policymaking process. And we’ve seen many times that this administration doesn’t like facts or research that isn’t convenient or [is] an impediment to their agenda, so I think moving them away helps accomplish that,” she added.³
This separation of policy and science is outlined in a list compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists. It includes, among many other items, “EPA refuses to Regulate Rocket Fuel Chemical in Drinking Water,” “White House Demands Rewriting of CDC’s COVID-19 Guidelines for Schools,” and “Trump Administration Disavows Own Meteorologists for Issuing Factual Statement on Hurricane Dorian.”4
The dangerous disrespect the current administration and other representatives show for the wisdom and advice of science have led to Scientific American, for the first time in its one-hundred-seventy-five-year history, to endorse a candidate for office, and its nod went to Joseph Biden. In the October 2020 issue, the editors explain that
Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.
The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.5
Finding out that SA felt it necessary to speak out and take a side feels monumental to me. I appreciate that way that, in normal times, many organizations stay out of politics. But sometimes there is no virtue in silence and neutrality, and we are living in such times.
I’m a humanities person, but I understand the vital role science plays, should play, must be allowed to play in our lives and society. So vote for science, for representatives who respect science and research and who will encourage and support with both words and funding the scientific leaders whose voices must be heard loudly and clearly for our society to survive.
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