I am a scientist. I use science as a litmus. Or, if you are up on the political lingo of our time: a talmismanic. As is often the case neither electoral proponent is using this term in the traditional meaning (a magical effect), but as a way to read additional opinions that may impact the election (e.g. gay rights, the economy). Funny thing is, almost no one talks about science. This might because they are both crap at it. Despite the rhetoric of Obama, he is somewhat displaced in his opinions of the link between vaccines and autism (which has been struck down time and again) while Romney et al.,… well his party (but not him always) are not comfortable with a lot of things (e.g. climate change, evolution, geology, cosmology, physics, biology, etc.). Because of this, the choice for me is simple, but I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t consider the other issues. I simply value science and science education above every other popular (red herring? Yes, on both sides) issue in the media today.
My vote is simply because I observe an equation through the ages: Math & Science -> invention -> innovation -> desirable products -> export = $ -> jobs. True since the scientific revolution and the founding of Greenwich mean time; the trackable sails, cannons and opium trade with China; the iron-sides and factory system during the American Revolution; and the formation of the Silicon Valley from a Californian garage; and true now (Hit the F1 key now and tell me that wasn’t formulated for and by an American). To me jobs are created by scientifically literate innovators that are capable of producing products that the rest of the world are interested in. Knowadays anyone can produce glass, steel, circuit boards, and innovate computer code. Which of our children will think of the next thing our country can do? Stem cells (don’t use embryonic anymore), cybernetics (look up Oscar Pistorius to see if the world isn’t worried), and cell hacking (http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101006/full/467650a.html) to see where science and economics may actually converge. Everyone is talking about amendment 64 in Colorado, but there is so much more on the line. I may be wrong on all of this, but as a scientist, I am open to alternate evidence. Try to grab that quote from either hardcore parties (yes independents are their own parties).
They (Republicans, Democrats, and the media) pick the simple issues of economic reform and abortion because there is a clear dichotomy between the two, which is easy to communicate to a public with a 15 second attention span. I bet those that are still reading that are not the people I have referred to in the last sentence. I bet that those who are sill reading this are free thinkers that are able to pick the values that are important to them. I have stated my own, and I urge you to read the candidates for what they are (sign-posts for a bipartisan society). This is all we have (thank you: Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Adams), and neither is satisfactory. Pick from each.
For me, I want your kids to learn math and science and be able to take advantage of the future. The rest of the world is out there and they haven’t missed a beat. Choose where we, as a nation, go next and know that you have as just as much of chance of being right as I do. As a scientist, I have a certain trust in the knowledge of the masses, but as a historian I remember how democracy failed Athens. I often wonder how history will recall the United States, and I urge each of you (whichever your pick) to write our story.