When a scientist runs for office, the facts are front and center in her campaign:
“At the heart of every scientist is a commitment to facts, integrity, and truth. ” –Elaine DiMasi (NY-1 candidate, 2018)
And that is exactly what I want to see more of in politics: More facts. More integrity. More truth.
Increasing the number, visibility, and vibrancy of STEM candidates and elected officials is one way to help do that. I’m not saying we should have a country governed entirely by scientists and engineers — that would be a mess, too — but we currently don’t have enough.1 Even though STEM backgrounds will always be a minority, growing that number can shift the culture and norms of politics, both on the campaign trail and in the halls of government.
The STEM candidates on our list run the full spectrum from people I admire to people I would never vote for. I’m not naive enough to think that being a scientist or engineer automagically makes someone a great politician. But whatever their political positions, whether or not I agree with them, I think they are all helping to bring more facts into the political arena.
The list of STEM candidates at VoteSTEM.org isn’t an endorsement list — it’s a conversation starter. We need to talk more about the importance of facts, integrity, and truth in a political climate plagued with science denials, “alternative facts,” and other outright lies. We need to talk more about the important science and technology issues facing our country. So let’s talk about these STEM candidates, and what they can bring to politics. And let’s keep having full, nuanced debates over who’s best to vote for.
When a scientist runs for office, putting the facts front and center, I want to see her opponents rise to the challenge. After all, scientists and engineers are hardly the only people who can evaluate the facts, weigh the uncertainties, and make evidence-based decisions. I want to see all her opponents start touting their own commitments to facts, integrity and truth. Because when that happens, we will have already won, no matter who gets elected.
- According to the Congressional Research Service’s report, the 115th Congress contains: a physicist, a microbiologist, a chemist, a computer systems analyst, a software engineer, eight engineers, and fourteen physicians. Among 541 Members of Congress, that’s 13 scientists and engineers (2.4%), and 14 physicians (2.6%) for a total of 27 members with STEM backgrounds (5.0%). As of 1/3/↩