As US midterms loom, Paul Basken as­sesses sci­en­tists’ progress in mov­ing into pub­lic of­fice

Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion prompted US sci­en­tists to try to get more of their own into pub­lic of­fice. How­ever, as the midterm elec­tions loom, progress on bring­ing an­a­lyt­i­cal skills into the po­lit­i­cal arena looks like be­ing very slow, writes Paul Basken

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS - Paul Basken is THE’s North Amer­ica edi­tor.

For­mer neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Hans S. Keirstead got out­ma­noeu­vred by a wealthy real es­tate mogul. Har­vard med­i­cal sci­en­tist Eric L. Ding could have used a bit more time to con­nect with vot­ers. Com­puter sci­ence pro­fes­sor Patrick H. Mad­den dropped out when a bet­ter-known Demo­crat got in.

Two years af­ter the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump left sci­en­tific lead­ers alarmed and vow­ing to get more of their own into elected of­fice, the midterm elec­tions next month are al­ready a lost cause for uni­ver­sity sci­en­tists. Few aca­demics ul­ti­mately put them­selves for­ward for the first na­tional elec­tion since Trump’s vic­tory, which takes place on 6 Novem­ber. And none got past the pri­mary rounds.

That kind of fail­ure rate is ex­pected for first-time can­di­dates. Yet the sci­en­tists may also be over­es­ti­mat­ing the de­gree to which the US pub­lic ac­tu­ally val­ues con­tem­pla­tive, an­a­lyt­i­cal as­sess­ment in the skillsets of its po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

“The sci­en­tific back­ground did not carry as much weight as prob­a­bly we all an­tic­i­pated,” says Mad­den (pic­tured in­set, be­low), now back at his job as an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of com­puter sci­ence at Bing­ham­ton Uni­ver­sity in New York state. “It sur­prised me. The the­ory was that peo­ple would take us se­ri­ously, believe that we are hon­est and truth­ful, and that we’re smart and ca­pa­ble.”

It is, of course, more com­pli­cated than that. Pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tors of var­i­ous kinds al­ready ac­count for 101 of the

535 mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Se­nate, with at least eight of them be­ing for­mer pro­fes­sors. Many more mem­bers of Con­gress have sci­ence back­grounds, in­clud­ing two dozen doc­tors, eight en­gi­neers, six soft­ware com­pany ex­ec­u­tives, a physi­cist, a mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist and a chemist.

But only two have doc­toral de­grees in the sci­ences; the pro­fes­sors now in Con­gress al­most ex­clu­sively come from law, po­lit­i­cal sci­ence or busi­ness fields. Ac­tual sci­en­tists bring­ing an ac­tive or re­cent uni­ver­sity af­fil­i­a­tion – and thereby hav­ing “sci­ence” as a key as­pect of their iden­tity – re­main con­spic­u­ous by their ab­sence.

The few who tried to re­dress that sit­u­a­tion this year en­coun­tered a va­ri­ety of ob­sta­cles, many spe­cific to the races in which they ran. Com­mon hin­drances, how­ever, in­cluded dif­fi­cul­ties with job and sched­ule flex­i­bil­ity, and in­suf­fi­cient fi­nan­cial or com­mu­nity ties. But, for now, the los­ing can­di­dates main­tain a com­mon com­mit­ment to keep try­ing, given what they see as the ur­gency of get­ting more sci­en­tific voices into the na­tion’s gov­ern­ing struc­tures.

The 2016 elec­tion “was a train wreck – just ter­ri­fy­ing”, says Mad­den. He was raised in a poor sec­tion of Detroit, and of­ten went hun­gry while work­ing blue-col­lar jobs in his youth; he fears the Trump pres­i­dency is wors­en­ing con­di­tions for those in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances.

The day af­ter Trump’s vic­tory, Mad­den stood be­fore his fresh­man class, deeply fret­ful but ready to ex­plain com­puter pro­gram­ming hi­er­ar­chies. “There was a batch of about six girls who would sit in the front row, and three were not there,” he re­calls. “The other three had a glassy look in their eyes, and were as freaked out as me.”

Oth­ers in the class in­cluded many first­gen­er­a­tion im­mi­grants. “I’m look­ing out at this room and all th­ese folks – their lives had just got­ten harder.”

Mad­den soon be­gan con­tem­plat­ing his lo­cal con­gres­sional dis­trict, rep­re­sented by Clau­dia Ten­ney, a for­mer ra­dio talk-show host who strongly backs Trump. While ru­ral and 90 per cent white, the dis­trict has a his­tory of back­ing law­mak­ers from both ma­jor par­ties. The mo­ment also was per­son­ally op­por­tune. Mad­den al­ready had been con­sid­er­ing a ca­reer switch into in­dus­try, and had started par­ing back his grad­u­ate stu­dent com­mit­ments. He also had avail­able sab­bat­i­cal and leave time.

Af­ter “a month of star­ing at the ceil­ing ev­ery night think­ing: ‘What the hell do we do?’” Mad­den reached a de­ci­sion. “OK, I’ll jump into the fire,” he thought, “be­cause I don’t know if any­body else will.”

He also had some­one to jump with him. A sci­en­tist friend on Long Is­land, Elaine DiMasi, was just reach­ing a sim­i­lar con­clu­sion, quit­ting her job as a physi­cist at the US gov­ern­ment’s Brookhaven Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory to chal­lenge Lee Zeldin, an­other Trump-sup­port­ing House Re­pub­li­can.

With lit­tle prac­ti­cal idea of how a cam­paign ac­tu­ally works, Mad­den called on 314 Ac­tion, a group founded in 2016 to help sci­en­tists to run for of­fice. Named af­ter the first three dig­its of pi, the group got him go­ing with ba­sic can­di­date train­ing and help find­ing cam­paign staff.

“They un­der­stand that I’ve never done this be­fore – I don’t have any idea what I’m do­ing,” Mad­den says. “But it seemed like it was a plau­si­ble thing that could ac­tu­ally work out.”

Mad­den waited un­til the sum­mer break in 2017 to an­nounce his can­di­dacy with­out the dis­trac­tion of classes. He planned to use that sum­mer to “get some mo­men­tum” in crit­i­cal ar­eas such as fundrais­ing, then teach in the fall, and take off this spring and sum­mer for cam­paign­ing.

But be­fore his cam­paign even got started, it ended. A Demo­crat serv­ing in the New York state leg­is­la­ture, An­thony Brin­disi, an­nounced in June 2017 that he also planned to chal­lenge Ten­ney. One week later, Mad­den bowed out.

With his com­puter back­ground, Mad­den fig­ured that if tech in­dus­try en­thu­si­asts latched on to his cam­paign, he might have raised a lot of money quickly, and other Democrats would have stood aside. But when Brin­disi moved even quicker, Mad­den con­cluded that “I’d prob­a­bly do more harm than good if I ran against him”. Since then, Mad­den has cam­paigned on be­half of Brin­disi, who ap­pears in polls to have a slight lead on Ten­ney.

“He’s not a sci­en­tist,” Mad­den said of Brin­disi, “but he’s a per­fectly ra­tio­nal guy.”

Af­ter a month of star­ing at the ceil­ing ev­ery night think­ing: ‘What the hell do we do?’, I thought: ‘OK, I’ll jump into the fire, be­cause I don’t know if any­body else will’

That ra­tio­nal­ity is part of what 314 Ac­tion preaches. Founder Shaugh­nessy Naughton, a for­mer in­dus­try chemist, cre­ated the group af­ter los­ing con­sec­u­tive bids for a House seat in her home state of Penn­syl­va­nia. More than 7,000 sci­en­tists have now con­tacted 314 Ac­tion for ad­vice, and the group has trained some 1,400 of them for cam­paigns at the fed­eral, state and lo­cal level.

How­ever, Naughton says that she is in­creas­ingly mix­ing en­cour­age­ment with words of warn­ing.

“I spend more time talk­ing peo­ple out of run­ning – al­most – in the sense of [point­ing out that] run­ning for Con­gress is not a sim­ple thing,” she says. Can­di­dates need to be pre­pared both fi­nan­cially and men­tally, and their fam­i­lies also need to be on board, be­cause “it’s not 40 hours a week – it’s 100”.

Hav­ing cast his hat un­suc­cess­fully into the ring, Ding (pic­tured in­set, right) also un­der­stands the trade-off. He gave up a fac­ulty po­si­tion at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity’s School of Pub­lic Health to run for Con­gress in his home dis­trict in the Har­ris­burg area of Penn­syl­va­nia. Although raised there from the age of 5, when his fam­ily im­mi­grated from China, Ding re­alised that he’d face ac­cu­sa­tions of be­ing a car­pet­bag­ger if he kept his Har­vard job while cam­paign­ing in an area where less than a fifth of vot­ers have a col­lege de­gree.

In a ca­reer fo­cused on im­prov­ing pub­lic health, Ding in­creas­ingly recog­nised that so­lu­tions of­ten re­quire ex­perts to get more di­rectly in­volved in po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses. By that mea­sure, he felt, the Trump vic­tory was a dan­ger­ous set­back. “I re­alised that, as sci­en­tists, we can­not just be sit­ting back and wait­ing for some­one to hear us,” he ex­plains.

An op­por­tu­nity arose thanks to redis­trict­ing. Penn­syl­va­nia’s Supreme Court, in Fe­bru­ary, cre­ated new con­gres­sional dis­trict bound­aries af­ter find­ing that the state’s ex­ist­ing map was un­fairly drafted to help Re­pub­li­cans win more seats than their sup­port war­ranted. How­ever, can­di­dates were left with very lit­tle time to ad­just to the new dis­trict lines. And although Ding was among the four out of eight de­clared Demo­crat can­di­dates that gath­ered enough voter sig­na­tures to be placed on the pri­mary bal­lot, the 10-week sprint to the 15 May poll was not enough time for an Asian Ivy Lea­guer in an eco­nom­i­cally stressed dis­trict that is 94 per cent white to re­mind vot­ers of his hum­ble lo­cal roots.

The win­ner of the Har­ris­burg pri­mary, pas­tor and army vet­eran Ge­orge Scott, took 36 per cent of the vote. Ding got half as much, fin­ish­ing third.

Scott is now in a close race with the Re­pub­li­can in­cum­bent, Scott Perry, an­other army vet­eran who is closely aligned with Trump and his pol­i­tics. Like Ding, Scott has no pre­vi­ous po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, and left town to pur­sue his ca­reer. But the Perry-Scott matchup high­lights the low value that US vot­ers typic- ally place on aca­demic achieve­ments, rel­a­tive to more sup­pos­edly glam­orous pur­suits, such as Scott’s mil­i­tary ex­cur­sions in Panama, Kuwait and Iraq.

Ding’s ré­sumé in­cludes fin­ish­ing an un­der­grad­u­ate pub­lic health de­gree at Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity in three years, and earn­ing dual doc­tor­ates at Har­vard even faster. He’s worked on pub­lic health pro­grammes help­ing ado­les­cents in Den­mark and refugees in the Mid­dle East. He’s helped de­tail se­ri­ous prob­lems with drugs such as Vioxx and Cele­brex. He founded web-based sys­tems to alert peo­ple of tox­ins in drink­ing wa­ter and to share can­cer preven­tion strate­gies.

In in­di­vid­ual en­coun­ters on the cam­paign trail, Ding says he was con­nect­ing. Vot­ers were be­gin­ning to un­der­stand that he was a lo­cal man – his par­ents chose “Eric”, he says, be­cause it is the only name spelled out in “Amer­ica” – who had trav­elled the world im­prov­ing lives and now wanted to help his home com­mu­nity. Some told him, “I’m so glad you’re not like Shel­don” – re­fer­ring to a pop­u­lar US tele­vi­sion series that cen­tres on a child prodigy who lacks ba­sic so­cial skills.

And while money proved a ma­jor hur­dle for Mad­den, Ding had no trou­ble in that de­part­ment thanks to his ex­pe­ri­ence on other cam­paigns (hav­ing long en­vi­sioned his own po­lit­i­cal ca­reer) and the nu­mer­ous busi­ness con­nec­tions made through his en­trepreneurial work. The $300,000 he raised in the 10-week win­dow was four times as much as Scott raised. But while money counts for a lot in US pol­i­tics, Ding found that it isn’t ev­ery­thing.

Keirstead did even bet­ter fi­nan­cially in his south­ern Cal­i­for­nia race. He raised more than $2 mil­lion and only just missed out, in what ap­pears to have been this year’s tight­est pri­mary. His fundrais­ing abil­ity was no doubt helped by the fact that he is closer than most aca­demics are to the cor­po­rate world, hav­ing left a fac­ulty job at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine in 2015 to con­cen­trate on a com­pany he cre­ated to con­vert his pi­o­neer­ing stem-cell dis­cov­er­ies into med­i­cal ther­a­pies. Although a na­tive of Canada, Keirstead has what Amer­i­cans would ad­mire as a clas­sic rags-to-riches life story. Raised by a sin­gle mother on a farm, he spent many days un­sure if he and his fam­ily would have a meal come din­ner­time, de­spite his un­der­tak­ing paid work from the age of 9. But he per­se­vered to earn an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy from the Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge and a doc­tor­ate from the Uni­ver­sity of Bri­tish Columbia. His work in the new and po­lit­i­cally charged field of stem-cell re­search – which was de­funded by the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Ge­orge W. Bush on eth­i­cal grounds – gave him close ex­po­sure to the in­ter­sec­tion of sci­ence and gov­ern­ment. So when Trump took of­fice threat­en­ing a wide­spread ero­sion of con­sumer pro­tec­tions, Keirstead felt that the time had ar­rived. His home dis­trict near Irvine has been held for 30 years by Dana Rohrabacher, a long­stand­ing and es­pe­cially com­bat­ive con­ser­va­tive whose

uniquely staunch sup­port of both Trump and Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has left him vul­ner­a­ble this elec­tion cy­cle.

De­scrib­ing his mo­ti­va­tion to run, Keirstead cites frus­tra­tion with politi­cians who don’t see re­al­i­ties that a sci­en­tist would recog­nise. With­out a sci­en­tist in the room, a con­gres­sional de­bate over im­ports of Chi­nese chairs al­most cer­tainly won’t in­volve an as­sess­ment of the tox­ins from Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses that even­tu­ally will pol­lute US land­fills, he says. And while an in­crease in Con­gress’ sci­en­tific quo­tient “is not the cure-all, by any means, it pro­vides a per­spec­tive that is ab­so­lutely lack­ing”.

That is a point be­ing made re­peat­edly by Rush Holt Jr, one of the era’s most suc­cess­ful aca­demic-politi­cians. Holt was a Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor serv­ing as as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the US gov­ern­ment’s Plasma Physics Lab when he ran for Con­gress in 1996. He lost, then ran again two years later and won, be­gin­ning a 16-year stint in the House that ended in 2015 af­ter he de­clined to seek re-elec­tion.

Sci­en­tists can write analy­ses and lobby law­mak­ers, says Holt, whose fa­ther was a sen­a­tor and whose mother served as West Vir­ginia’s sec­re­tary of state at the end of the 1950s. But it’s crit­i­cal, he adds, for some to serve in of­fice and sit “at the ta­ble when the is­sue is be­ing dis­cussed”.

Now chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Sci­ence, Holt is cheer­ing on sci­en­tist can­di­dates while sym­pa­this­ing with their strug­gles.

“Get­ting elected is hard work, with a lot of luck in­volved,” he says. “And it calls on skills that are not gen­er­ally ex­er­cised in the sci­ence com­mu­nity.”

The sci­en­tific com­mu­nity also needs pa­tience, adds Julie McClain Downey, se­nior di­rec­tor of cam­paign com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Emily’s List, a group ded­i­cated to help­ing women get elected to po­lit­i­cal of­fice.

Emily’s List was founded in 1985, and has in­spired nu­mer­ous im­i­ta­tors among groups seek­ing to elect peo­ple of par­tic­u­lar back­grounds. Yet women still only com­prise a fifth of Con­gress mem­bers.

“It takes time,” Downey says. “Emily’s List has been do­ing this work for 33 years. And only now are we see­ing this mas­sive wave of women run­ning at the rate where we could even imag­ine get­ting close to par­ity.”

For sci­en­tists, many of whom are align­ing with Democrats, just win­ning party sup­port seems a chal­lenge. Keirstead’s is a case in point. His dis­trict south of Los An­ge­les looks promis­ing for Democrats be­cause its res­i­dents, while gen­er­ally wealthy and con­ser­va­tive, are also bet­ter-ed­u­cated than those in Mad­den’s New York or Ding’s Penn­syl­va­nia. The dis­trict is also barely ma­jor­ity-white, with His­pan­ics mak­ing up a fifth of the pop­u­la­tion and Asians al­most as much, leav­ing Rohrabacher’s an­ti­im­mi­grant po­si­tions an­other po­ten­tial li­a­bil­ity.

But that en­vi­ron­ment also at­tracted Har­ley Rouda, a wealthy real es­tate ex­ec­u­tive who

has long voted Re­pub­li­can and do­nated to Re­pub­li­cans, but de­cided to run as a Demo­crat. Hav­ing well out-raised Rouda, Keirstead seemed within reach of win­ning. But, ac­cord­ing to Keirstead (pic­tured right, with Rouda in the back­ground), the na­tional Demo­cratic party felt that Rouda could draw from his own per­sonal wealth in the gen­eral elec­tion, and so gave him $400,000 to pay for tele­vi­sion ads in the fi­nal days of the pri­mary cam­paign. By con­trast, the party gave Keirstead “noth­ing”, and Rouda won by 126 votes, out of 190,000 cast.

But 314 Ac­tion is not dis­suaded. Over­all, the group en­dorsed two can­di­dates for the Se­nate and 20 for the House. Both Se­nate con­tenders and 11 of the House chal­lengers made it to the gen­eral elec­tion. And the 22 pri­mary races had a com­bined to­tal of 141 other can­di­dates on the bal­lots. “Those num­bers are pretty good,” Naughton be­lieves.

Yet many of her group’s 13 fi­nal-round en­dorsees are med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als – in­clud­ing sev­eral doc­tors and physi­cians – or busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives with sci­en­tific back­grounds. They don’t nec­es­sar­ily ad­dress what Keirstead and oth­ers see as the value of hav­ing prac­tis­ing sci­en­tists in the room when key pub­lic pol­icy de­bates are set­tled.

To get there, more prac­tis­ing sci­en­tists may need to meet vot­ers at least halfway, says David Hop­kins, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Bos­ton Col­lege. Sci­en­tists can­not ex­pect many vot­ers to ac­cept the idea – per­haps too com­mon in academia – that po­lit­i­cal dis­agree­ments can be solved with bet­ter in­for­ma­tion, and that “real ex­perts know what’s right and wrong”, Hop­kins says.

“That’s a very old idea. But it’s an idea that most peo­ple don’t re­ally sub­scribe to. It’s hard to make the pitch to vot­ers that they should just put a bunch of smarty-pantses in charge and not worry about any­thing any more.”

But Naughton points out that there are al­ter­na­tive av­enues for sci­en­tists to wield some in­flu­ence over pub­lic life. Run­ning for a lo­cal school board is a great ex­am­ple, she says. Such low-pro­file vol­un­teer po­si­tions pro­vide a nat­u­ral fit for ed­u­ca­tors who may be squea­mish about play­ing the po­lit­i­cal game of con­stantly re­peat­ing them­selves to vot­ers, ex­press­ing con­fi­dence when facts are am­bigu­ous and plead­ing for money and sup­port.

Ab­dul El-Sayed (pic­tured right), a for­mer as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of epi­demi­ol­ogy at Columbia Uni­ver­sity, is among those search­ing for a mean­ing­ful role. Wor­ried about prob­lems such as child­hood lead ex­po­sure and feel­ing that an aca­demic ca­reer “wasn’t go­ing to con­trib­ute to the out­comes I care so much about”, he left Columbia in 2015 to be­come health di­rec­tor for the city of Detroit. But that role didn’t sat­isfy ei­ther. A chief frus­tra­tion was watch­ing state of­fi­cials let the in­ter­na­tional food com­pany Nestlé take hun­dreds of mil­lions of gal­lons of wa­ter from pub­lic reser­voirs, against over­whelm­ing pub­lic op­po­si­tion and for al­most no charge, while thou­sands of Detroit res­i­dents got their home ser­vice dis­con­nected over un­paid bills. So El-Sayed re­signed early last year to run for Michi­gan gover­nor.

He lost Au­gust’s pri­mary to Gretchen Whit- mer, the Demo­cratic leader in the Michi­gan state Se­nate, by a mar­gin of 52 per cent to 30 per cent. Nev­er­the­less, he re­mains com­mit­ted to the po­lit­i­cal arena. So while he has taken an ad­junct po­si­tion at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, he is not look­ing to re­turn to a full-time fac­ulty po­si­tion. “That’s not for me right now – maybe later,” he says. “There’s too much else I want to do.”

Not all pro­fes­sors, how­ever, should make the same choice, El-Sayed says: “Some­times we in academia dis­count the value of teach­ing. And one of the most im­por­tant things we can teach young peo­ple is to stay in­volved and to stay en­gaged.”

Mad­den feels much the same. His ex­pe­ri­ence of run­ning for Con­gress has given him some per­spec­tive on the so­ci­etal value of his job as a pro­fes­sor – and on the politi­cians who so of­ten claim to be “job-cre­ators” merely by vot­ing to lower taxes and ease pro­tec­tive reg­u­la­tions. “We make jobs here,” he says of Bing­ham­ton Uni­ver­sity. “We make peo­ple who get good-pay­ing jobs.”

Hop­kins an­tic­i­pates that if aca­demic politi­cians do be­come a mean­ing­ful force, it likely will be­gin around col­lege towns, where vot­ers are more likely to wel­come pro­fes­so­rial in­volve­ment in lo­cal pol­i­tics. And he urges aca­demics to keep try­ing.

“We know that po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment and po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity does not guar­an­tee a pay­off,” Hop­kins says. “But we do know that po­lit­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity and po­lit­i­cal dis­en­gage­ment is very un­likely to gain a pay-off.”

If uni­ver­si­ties want to help – recog­nis­ing that they too may ben­e­fit from a more in­formed brand of pub­lic pol­icy – Naughton, Holt and Hop­kins all have a sug­ges­tion: look at the walks of life from which peo­ple are get­ting elected to Con­gress.

Beyond the ca­reer politi­cians, Con­gress is dom­i­nated by those with back­grounds in busi­ness and law. This is be­cause run­ning for fed­eral of­fice is a full-time job, and get­ting the nec­es­sary leave is much eas­ier for peo­ple who own their own busi­ness or work at law firms. Such or­gan­i­sa­tions also recog­nise the value of hav­ing al­lies in pub­lic of­fice, Naughton says. Law firms, for in­stance, not only al­low time off for cam­paigns, but ac­tively en­cour­age it, even throw­ing fundrais­ers and con­tribut­ing di­rectly to as­so­ci­ates’ cam­paign funds. “I don’t think that law firms nec­es­sar­ily do that out of the good­ness of their hearts,” Naughton ob­serves.

The AAAS’ Holt agrees. He be­lieves that uni­ver­si­ties should con­sider of­fer­ing sab­bat­i­cals or train­ing specif­i­cally de­signed to help fac­ulty who may want to run for of­fice. He used va­ca­tion time and “a few months” of un­paid leave from Prince­ton in his 1996 con­gres­sional run, but then took ad­van­tage of a sev­er­ance of­fer to quit Prince­ton en­tirely for his suc­cess­ful 1998 bid.

Whether any of sci­ence’s cur­rent crop of dis­ap­pointed would-be politi­cians will run again re­mains to be seen. But none of them are ready yet to rule it out.

“We’re down but not out,” Ding says. “Sci­ence is a long jour­ney. It’s not an overnight sen­sa­tion.”

It’s hard to make the pitch to vot­ers that they should just put a bunch of smarty-pantses in charge and not worry about any­thing any more

No truck at­tacks on rea­son and knowl­edge dur­ing Trump’s pres­i­dency have led to more sci­en­tists en­ter­ing the po­lit­i­cal fray, in­clud­ing par­tic­i­pat­ing in the March for Sci­ence in 2017 (pic­tured be­low)

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