For the last four years, we’ve had a president sleeping in the White House who believed that bleach could cure disease. We’ve had a president and an administration for the last four years who cannot handle truth and reality, especially when it comes to science. When the pandemic hit the United States, and Dr. Fauci began to advise this administration, he was not taken seriously as the expert in this scenario. Should we have expected more from this administration? To think they would care about the millions of people suffering in some way from the pandemic, or that 238,000 Americans have lost their lives because President Donald Trump and his staff failed to act? They fail to believe in science, and scientists.
But on November 3rd, the American people chose to elect an administration who understands the role science plays in keeping Americans safe. President-Elect Joe Biden is already at work in advance of his January inauguration, getting together teams to slow the surge of the pandemic, address climate change, deal with environmental policies, and — most importantly perhaps — reinstate our relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO). Not to mention, Dr. Jill Biden has a doctorate in Educational Leadership; as First Lady, she will most certainly use her voice, just as she did as Second Lady, to help folks understand some basic shit.
Full disclosure: I barely passed biology with a “C+” in high school, even though I wanted to become an obstetrician. As life would have it, and rightly so, I am not a doctor today. Just because science wasn’t particularly my strongest subject in high school, I never stopped believing in it. I cannot remember one thing about the periodic table except that it was important to understand to help get me safely through whatever experiment we would try in class and not blow myself up.
What I do know is that there are times we must ask for help, especially now, especially from scientists. But not the Trump Administration. Recently during a campaign rally, President Trump said of President-Elect Biden, “He’ll listen to the scientists,” Trump added in a mocking tone before saying, “If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression instead — we’re like a rocket ship. Take a look at the numbers.” There is one thing and one thing only this administration cares about, and that is one’s financial livelihood. Not the lives of American men, women, and children.
One thing that surprised me about these election results is how many people voted for President Trump, some for a second time. With over 71 million votes, President Trump has supporters who believe — as he does — that science does not matter and is not real. It surprised me that 71 million people hold some of the same values as he does, fueled by lack of common sense resting on a foundation of racist beliefs. President Trump’s beliefs fueled the anti-vaxxers, misled the gullible (some who tried bleach), and single-handedly helped spread the coronavirus by not believing Dr. Fauci or the success of other countries who slowed or stopped the spread because of mask-wearing.
It all comes with basic understanding and common sense, which is lacking currently in the White House. Science, as President-Elect Joe Biden has said, will lead the way and heal America. It isn’t UV-light, it isn’t bleach and it is not the stock market. As Art Caplan, a bioethicist who works at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, shares with Buzzfeed “I thought it would be close, maybe not this close. People are worried about losing their jobs, and Trump was promising to keep businesses open, even if it was all smoke and mirrors. And there is coronavirus fatigue, sadly.”
The reality star voted into office in 2016 came with no political experience or interest in showing up for the American people in the ways that his forty-four predecessors had. He has bullied us and beaten us down so much that thousands took to the streets to dance together, joyous and hopeful, at the prospect of what our 2021 America will look like. On November 7th, President Trump was fired from a role he was never qualified to hold.
When we have the Biden/Harris administration leading us out of the darkness, science and the work needed to combat the pandemic will be one of their top priorities, even before they officially take office. Biden’s COVID-19 taskforce has been formed and announced, giving us confidence that he will prioritize our lives, our livelihoods, instead of fattening up his wallet or boasting about the stock market highs. We are all happy to have someone with common sense, compassion, humility, and a belief in science who will soon call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home.
One ecologist from the University of Maine, Jacquelyn Gill, told Buzzfeed, “Whether we’re working for government agencies or receiving government funding, we’re working on issues for the public good. I think a lot of scientists are realizing our position as public servants is tenuous in ways we didn’t appreciate before. I think we’ve gone through a one-way door.”
If this past election cycle told us anything, it is that we all have a responsibility and role to play as we work to heal America. Let’s get to work so we can say, “we did it.”
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