All my adult life I have avoided applying any political litmus test when choosing candidates for office—especially for Congress or the Presidency. I held that people running in an election should be evaluated by the balance of their stands on issues, not focus in on just one small area. My stance on this has now changed.
I’m saddened that I have now been placed in a position where one primary issue will immediately cause a candidate to be eliminated from consideration regardless of any other political convergence with my own views. Political parties haven’t done it. General political philosophy hasn’t done it. The abortion/choice issue hasn’t. Religion almost has, due to the increasing influence by those I wouldn’t turn my back on in a dark alley (or a well-lit alley, for that matter). The one issue that has forced me to institute my own political cutoff switch is: science.
If, for whatever reason (though often it’s often influenced by that religion thing I was already having qualms with), a candidate embraces anti-science rhetoric, has demonstrated anti-science policies, or out-and-out proclaims themselves as being anti-science, they no longer exist to me as an option for my vote.
Here’s the deal: I don’t believe in science. Science doesn’t require belief. It is a recursive process of data acquisition, analysis, testing, and application. It attempts to describe natural processes with increasing clarity and to correct itself when the results needs to be refined. Gravity doesn’t require belief. Mass, as it relates to matter, doesn’t require belief. Yet science has provided us a method that has allowed us to describe the properties of gravity, mass, and a myriad of other things—yes, including evolution and climate change—better and more reliably than any other system we have tried.
So when I hear an office-seeker saying they are against overwhelming scientific conclusions without equally compelling evidence in opposition of those conclusions (other than rhetoric or a book of dubious applicability in this area), then I have to conclude that they favor comfortable personal fantasies over knowledge. Or perhaps it’s election money and special interests over knowledge. Either way, they aren’t getting my vote.
Even worse is the hypocrisy. Although anti-science, these candidates will use computers, cell phones, airplanes, MRIs, electricity, polymers, and thousands of other things that are products of that science they so strenuously object to. Some might argue that it’s only some science they oppose, not the personally convenient ones. No. That’s not how it works. You don’t cherry-pick science the same way you might your mores and practices from a religious text. Gravity is gravity. Atoms are atoms. Evolution is evolution. It’s the same process.
And now I have a litmus test (ironically…actual, non-political litmus tests come from science). It’s sad that the political landscape has reached a point where I felt I had to have one. But I favor facts. I favor knowledge. I abhor charlatans and fanatics. So, if you want my vote, you better have a firm grounding in that area which best describes the physical reality in which I, and I hope most of the rest of us, reside—science. As long as you have that, the rest is open for consideration.