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Campaign 2008: "A Lesson about Science from Abraham Lincoln"
Alan I. Leshner
Thomas Jefferson was a scientist-statesman, and Abraham Lincoln could talk with easy eloquence about scientific issues of concern in his time. Today, as we approach an era of unprecedented discovery and challenge, presidential candidates must provide scientific leadership, writes AAAS Chief Executive Officer Alan I. Leshner.
In a commentary published Tuesday 4 September in the Des Moines Register, Leshner notes that many of the most urgent issues of our time are science-related—from climate change and energy needs to science and technology education. But thus far in the 2008 presidential campaign, those issues are almost invisible, he wrote.
"While some of the candidates have developed detailed positions on science and technology, their ideas get little play in the campaign," Leshner wrote in Iowa’s biggest newspaper. In nearly a dozen debates, "the treatment of science-related issues has ranged from superficial to non-existent. The questions, when asked, are often simplistic. They’re often directed at a single candidate. And the answers are never more than a soundbite."
As Labor Day historically signals the unofficial start of the election season, the nation will focus on Iowa as most of the Republican and Democratic candidates are expected to invest significant blocs of time and money there in the months preceding the 14 January Iowa caucus.
"We use our presidential campaigns to assess candidates’ vision in economic matters, domestic policy, national security and global affairs," Leshner wrote. "It stands to reason that, as we embark on a century of unprecedented scientific discovery and technological development, the campaign also should help us gauge the candidates’ readiness to lead as we negotiate the opportunities and challenges ahead."
Edward W. Lempinen
04 September 2007