Yesterday, I mentioned how important it is to pay attention to what a candidate promises, because those promises are often kept. If you haven’t already, it’s time to go see what the presidential candidates had to say about the top science and technology issues they’ll likely face over the next four years.
Pay attention to how they say science shapes their policies, not just how many words each of them spends on a question. Pay attention to whether they make reality their priority. If you have the knowledge, pay attention to whether they make promises they can’t keep or are telling you they haven’t bothered to study yet. For example, see Romney on space exploration:
America has enjoyed a half-century of leadership in space, but now that leadership is eroding despite the hard work of American industry and government personnel. The current purpose and goals of the American space program are difficult to determine. With clear, decisive, and steadfast leadership, space can once again be an engine of technology and commerce. It can help to strengthen America’s entrepreneurial spirit and commercial competitiveness, launch new industries and new technologies, protect our security interests, and increase our knowledge.
Rebuilding NASA, restoring U.S. leadership, and creating new opportunities for space commerce will be hard work, but I will strive to rebuild an institution worthy of our aspirations and capable once again leading the world toward new frontiers. I will bring together all the stakeholders – from NASA and other civil agencies, from the full range of national security institutions, from our leading universities, and from commercial enterprises – to set goals, identify missions, and define the pathway forward.
The ScienceDebate team started out by advocating for a live debate on these issues back in 2008. I personally prefer this sort of statement from the campaigns. I don’t need my president to be able to deliver a mini lecture on demand, but I do need to know how they relate to the issues raised by science and what role it has in their administration. The answers to these questions go a long way toward telling me what I need to know.