After several centuries of casting and counting ballots, it's shocking that we still haven't mastered what seems to be a simple task. But anyone who lived through the 2000 presidential election, in which a mishmash of flawed voting machines, contradictory county procedures, and unclear state laws in Florida led to the least reliable outcome in history, knows that 21st century voting is no better than the era when we shouted out our votes at the courthouse steps.
Science Debate 2008 saved the best for last. Or at least they saved the most expensive for last. According to a 2007 study by Medicare and Medicaid, Americans spent almost $2.26 trillion on healthcare in 2007, or more per capita than any other nation on Earth. Similarly, spending on healthcare-related research dwarfs spending on all other scientific endeavors.
With the economy in shambles and the debt spiraling out of control, many worry that the government will start cutting programs to save money. And despite its pre-crises print date, Science Debate 2008 question 13 implies a fear that scientific research funding will get cut first. But neither candidate’s answer directly addresses the question of how they would balance the general lack of funds the next president will face against their desire to raise research budgets. And that is, mostly, likely because neither would have to.
To reach the highest levels of power, a politician must master the art of promising reform in areas far beyond their jurisdiction. Much like their previous answers about water usage, scientific integrity generally falls outside the scope of what Obama and McCain voted on in Congress.
Space, what President Kennedy called “the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked,” has always been the greatest measure of America’s prestige. Other countries have democracy, other countries have nuclear weapons, but no other country has a flag on the Moon.
Of all the answers to the Science Debate 2008 questions, Senators McCain and Obama's answers to the water policy question were the shortest and least detailed. Similarly, their records on this issue are virtually nonexistent, much like every other Senator's record on this issue.
Despite representing landlocked states, Senators McCain and Senator Obama have lifelong ties to oceans. Obama grew up on a series of islands, living only minutes from the beach, while McCain comes from a naval family and spent a good portion of his life living on the open sea.
For those reasons, and a mutual understanding of the importance of climate change, both candidates gave similar answer to the Science Debate 2008 question about ocean health. But do their records back up what they said?
So far the Science Debate 2008 questions have focused on technical issues which most Americans agree are important, even if they disagree over how the problems should be tackled. However, by asking about the federal funding and regulation of stem cells, question eight steps right into the fray of a decade long culture war. That cultural conflict colors both candidates' Science Debate answers, but what about their legislative history?
The extraordinary development of genetics over the last 20 years has resulted in both a wealth of new technologies and a wide range of ethical concerns relating to that technology. Like most scientific research, a great deal of genetics research is either run by the government directly or funded by the federal government in some fashion. As a result, the next president will struggle with genetics-related decisions that would have been unimaginable to his predecessor. Let's look at the candidates' history of genetics legislation.
Yesterday we looked at Senator Obama's and Senator McCain's opinions on using science to protect Americans from other countries. Today, we look at the candidates' plans to protect Americans from other organisms. In particular, influenza, which has killed more Americans than all the wars of the 20th Century, combined. Do the candidates have a record of bird flu awareness and bioterrorism prevention? Let's take a look.