Minority Scientists for Barack Obama
Our nation is mired in problems such as economic instability, overseas wars, health disparities, and climate change. These problems require science-based as well as political solutions. Such challenges call for the participation of the scientific community to identify the critical scientific issues, advocate for workable solutions, and recommend the presidential candidate best suited for addressing them. As American scientists and engineers of color, we devote our efforts to the study of nature and the development of new and important technologies. We also commit our efforts to our nation’s progress towards equity for all because it represents the highest values that Americans uphold. Both scientific advancement and equity are fundamental to America’s future success. Investment in science and engineering has fueled our high standard of living, improved our health, and made our country a global leader. Rather than cultivate American science and engineering, the current administration has reduced funding for basic research; disbanded the Congressional Office of Technology and Assessment; downgraded the status of the President’s Scientific Advisor; censured government scientific information; attempted to legitimize “intelligent design”; imposed severe limits on stem cell research, and; denied the role of human activity in global climate change. Clearly American science needs a change. Consequently, we examined the positions of the Presidential candidates regarding American Science and observed significant differences. Although both Senator Obama and recently Senator McCain responded in detail to the 14 questions on science policy posed in the "Science Debate 2008," John McCain has not delineated a comprehensive science policy. Furthermore, Senator McCain failed to answer questions on science policy posed by Nature, the world's most prestigious science journal. By contrast, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have put forward a far-reaching plan “Investing in America’s Future: Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Plan for Science and Innovation” that among many points promotes the growth of US science, encourages the training of new scientists, supports diversity among science researchers, and addresses health disparities. The plan includes previous proposed legislation such as "The Genomic and Personalized Medicine Act." This bill supports basic research in genomics related to public health, targets health disparities, protects privacy, and provides support for new diagnostics and treatments. We note that Senator Obama recognizes the need to “fully tap the diversity of our nation” in order to increase our competitive strength and capacity to innovate. His vision anticipates a diverse scientific workforce as essential for providing the wider range of perspectives and innovative solutions necessary for addressing the challenges before us. These differences between the candidates are echoed in the positions of their running mates. Senator Joe Biden pledged to double the budgets of NIH and NSF and to expand the reach of stem cell research. Meanwhile, Governor Sarah Palin denies that human activity contributes to climate change, and advocates the teaching of intelligent design along with evolution. These stark differences in the science agenda of the two Presidential candidates lead us to endorse Barack Obama for President of the United States.