If you ever attended a Science Cafe New Hampshire session back in those glorious days when we could sit next to strangers in enclosed spaces, you heard me say our motto was “No politics, no PowerPoint.”
I mentioned PowerPoint to remind people that Science Cafe is a conversation, not a lecture. Plus, everybody likes jokes about PowerPoint. But the mention of politics was the real key.
Science Cafe N.H. worked hard to stay free of the personalities, insults and finger-pointing that seem inescapable when politics enters a discussion, just as I have avoided politics during my 42 years as a newspaper reporter.
But that was then and this is now. Today I’m going to break my own rule and make a political statement: In the name of science, anybody who is any kind of a geek should do everything they can to oppose Donald Trump.
For this election, please actively support those who have opposed Trump, even if you have to hold your nose to do it.
I say this even as I wish the president and the first lady well as they deal with COVID-19. When it comes to humans against viruses, we’re all on the same team.
But I urge all Granite Geek readers to oppose Trump’s re-election because he is the ultimate anti-geek, worse than the worst boss you’ve ever had.
Trump is the manager who doesn’t bother to learn anything but wants to make all the decisions. He’s the suit who meddles in technical areas he doesn’t understand and then blames underlings when they fail. He’s the boss who despises and attacks those who actually know what’s going on, even as he steals credit for anything they accomplish.
In his four years in power Trump has broken scientific institutions as vital as the CDC and NOAA, often on a whim – remember that time he scribbled on a hurricane map to cover up his errors? – and has left us without the science-based guidance we need on matters as vital as dealing with the pandemic or preparing for extreme weather.
As president, Donald Trump has put political appointees with no experience in charge of science and engineering departments (Google “Lysenko” to see how that worked out for the Soviets), has withheld or handed out funding for personal profit rather than to aid discovery or to benefit the nation, and has gutted any agency that might tell him things he doesn’t want to hear. His own sickness is one result of ignoring scientific reality.
This is no secret. Eighty-one Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine signed a letter supporting Joe Biden, saying “at no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy.”
If they’re too ivory-tower for you, consider that 489 generals, admirals and foreign policy officials who publicly signed a statement that Trump is unfit for the job. Or look at how many former employees and colleagues have written books describing how he’s a classic example of the Dunning-Kruger Syndrome, where the less you know the more certain you are of yourself.
Many geeks vote Republican because they want to be left alone and think the GOP does that better than the Democratic Party. Trump should be the exception.
A terrible boss can damage a team or a division or a whole company but this president has damaged our nation. He has done more harm to America’s scientific and technical expertise than I would have thought possible, much to the delight of the Chinese and the Russians. He needs to go and so do all his enablers.
However, it’s worse than that.
I might not have broken my decades of political silence if Donald Trump was merely an anti-geek. I’m doing it because he has shown that he is an anti-American.
Trump’s desire to stay in power has led him to damage institutions as basic to our nation as the census, which is mentioned in the very first article of the Constitution, and the post office, which predates America.
He and his cronies are openly plotting to ignore the will of the people in November if the vote doesn’t go the way he wants, setting up alternative electors and doing everything they can to anger, confuse and enrage us, even if it means encouraging foreign enemies. That’s all the more reason to vote against Trump: The more overwhelming his loss, the harder it becomes for his team to circumvent results and the less likely somebody else will try to copy his playbook later.
I never, ever thought this sort of thing was possible in the land where my family has lived for six generations, but the United States is truly facing the possibility of losing the core of our democracy. No amount of geeking-out can protect you or me if that happens.
I know this sounds like the worst kind of political hyperbole, but take it from somebody who has spent his life avoiding political hyperbole: It’s a realistic fear.
All of us need to do what we can to prevent it, starting with the ballot box.
Then I can go back to avoiding politics.