Scientific American has endorsed Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, marking the publication’s first-ever backing of a political candidate in its 175-year history.
Writing for the October issue, the editorial board “felt compelled” to back Biden and that emphasized that it “does not do so lightly.”
The single biggest issue for the magazine is President Donald Trump’s abject denial of science and reality, which have manifested into a disastrous mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic and accelerated environmental destruction.
“The most devastating example” of Trump’s lethal negligence “is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September,” the editors wrote.
He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.
The COVID-19 outbrea “would strain any nation and system,” they said, “but Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic in the U.S.” With just 4.25 percent of the global population, the United States currently 21 percent of COVID-19 deaths, and the numbers are climbing, seemingly without end, because of the Trump Administration’s intentionally false and misleading claims about the virus.
These lapses accelerated the spread of disease through the country—particularly in highly vulnerable communities that include people of color, where deaths climbed disproportionately to those in the rest of the population,” Scientific American noted, adding that inadequate testing and widespread refusal to wear masks have led to tens of thousands of unnecessary fatalities, all due to Trump’s reckless indifference to truth and abhorrent rejection of scientific advice:
Trump and his vice president flouted local mask rules, making it a point not to wear masks themselves in public appearances. Trump has openly supported people who ignored governors in Michigan and California and elsewhere as they tried to impose social distancing and restrict public activities to control the virus. He encouraged governors in Florida, Arizona and Texas who resisted these public health measures, saying in April—again, falsely—that “the worst days of the pandemic are behind us” and ignoring infectious disease experts who warned at the time of a dangerous rebound if safety measures were loosened.
The results have been predictably devastating:
The states that followed Trump’s misguidance posted new daily highs and higher percentages of positive tests than those that did not. By early July several hospitals in Texas were full of COVID-19 patients. States had to close up again, at tremendous economic cost. About 31 percent of workers were laid off a second time, following the giant wave of unemployment—more than 30 million people and countless shuttered businesses—that had already decimated the country. At every stage, Trump has rejected the unmistakable lesson that controlling the disease, not downplaying it, is the path to economic reopening and recovery.
The president has admitted to publicly downplaying the COVID-19 threat and has instead deflected blame onto just about everyone and everything imaginable, the magazine charged:
Trump’s reaction to America’s worst public health crisis in a century has been to say “I don’t take responsibility at all.” Instead he blamed other countries and his White House predecessor, who left office three years before the pandemic began.
The laundry list of reasons Scientific American is urging the American people to dump Trump reaches far beyond the pandemic, however:
He has repeatedly tried to get rid of the Affordable Care Act while offering no alternative; comprehensive medical insurance is essential to reduce illness. Trump has proposed billion-dollar cuts to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agencies that increase our scientific knowledge and strengthen us for future challenges. Congress has countermanded his reductions. Yet he keeps trying, slashing programs that would ready us for future pandemics and withdrawing from the World Health Organization. These and other actions increase the risk that new diseases will surprise and devastate us again.
Likewise, his dangerous and destructive slashing of environmental protections have jeopardized the health of the population and hastened climate change caused by human activity, which are primarily the burning of fossil fuels and overuse of natural resources:
In his ongoing denial of reality, Trump has hobbled U.S. preparations for climate change, falsely claiming that it does not exist and pulling out of international agreements to mitigate it. The changing climate is already causing a rise in heat-related deaths and an increase in severe storms, wildfires and extreme flooding.
Biden, on the other hand, “comes prepared with plans to control COVID-19, improve health care, reduce carbon emissions and restore the role of legitimate science in policy making. He solicits expertise, and has turned that knowledge into solid policy proposals,” the publication wrote of the former vice president. “On COVID-19, he states correctly that ‘it is wrong to talk about ‘choosing’ between our public health and our economy…. If we don’t beat the virus, we will never get back to full economic strength.'”
The writers provided a snippet of what Biden intends to do:
Biden plans to ramp up a national testing board, a body that would have the authority to command both public and private resources to supply more tests and get them to all communities. He also wants to establish a Public Health Job Corps of 100,000 people, many of whom have been laid off during the pandemic crisis, to serve as contact tracers and in other health jobs. He will direct the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to enforce workplace safety standards to avoid the kind of deadly outbreaks that have occurred at meat-processing plants and nursing homes. While Trump threatened to withhold money from school districts that did not reopen, regardless of the danger from the virus, Biden wants to spend $34 billion to help schools conduct safe in-person instruction as well as remote learning.
Unlike Trump, Biden soliticts advice from legitimate experts, the editors said, and not from “physicians who believe in aliens and debunked virus therapies, one of whom Trump has called ‘very respected” and “spectacular.'”
Scientific American branded Biden as pro-family, as somebody that cares about the wellbeing of children, and wants parents to have adequate access to childcare so they can earn a decent living.
As well, Biden’s environmental policies will not only help grow the economy, but are crucial for mitigating the enormous impact modern society has on the planet:
Biden wants to spend $2 trillion on an emissions-free power sector by 2035, build energy-efficient structures and vehicles, push solar and wind power, establish research agencies to develop safe nuclear power and carbon capture technologies, and more. The investment will produce two million jobs for U.S. workers, his campaign claims, and the climate plan will be partly paid by eliminating Trump’s corporate tax cuts. Historically disadvantaged communities in the U.S. will receive 40 percent of these energy and infrastructure benefits.
What Biden would actually be able to accomplish is impossible to predict, because a president needs a cooperative Congress willing to pass effective legislation. “But,” the editors said, “he is acutely aware that we must heed the abundant research showing ways to recover from our present crises and successfully cope with future challenges.”
Most importantly, the board stressed, every single citizen must vote, no matter how difficult Trump tries to make it.
“Trump and his allies have tried to create obstacles that prevent people from casting ballots safely in November, either by mail or in person. It is crucial that we surmount them and vote. It’s time to move Trump out and elect Biden, who has a record of following the data and being guided by science,” the editorial board concluded.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.