Scientifically Boggled by Politics

As results for the recent US midterm election roll in, I am left pondering what impact a Republican controlled Senate will have on science funding and policy making. Truth be told, I was never much of a poli-science major. I much preferred sticking with courses in molecular biology, immunology, chemistry and even (lord help me) organic chemistry. However, as I grow older and mature (OK…perhaps the use of the term “mature” is an exaggeration) I realize that decisions taken by our politicians can significantly impact our ability to do scientific research both in terms of funding (i.e. NIH budget) and various activities (i.e. stem cell research).

In a news article published today in Science, Jocelyn Kaiser writes that in the wake of last night’s electoral upheaval, the NIH is hoping that Congress will approve House of Representatives and Senate spending bills that would give NIH a $1 billion boost over 2010. She also ponders what effect election results will have on NIH’s guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research.

Googling “election results science funding” has turned up an article on (I guess the url was already taken) that predicts dire consequences to US research funding in 2011 should there be a big Republican win in yesterday’s elections. The articles author, Rebecca Tragger, suggests that besides Republican leaders’ promise to hold spending levels at or below those of 2010, alame duck session with an incoming Republican chamber of Congress is bound to have a significant impact on promises already made by the previous government.

It is with great sadness that I turn to you my dear American Biotechnologists, with a humble request that you please explain to me what the heck all this means!!! I know that it is important news but my brain is tuned to PCR, Western Blotting, ELISA and Chromatography and I believe that the mechanism for understanding US politics has been downregulated in my brain. I even tried watching Noam Chomsky’s explanation of American politics but I fell asleep at 1 minute and 30 seconds (take a look below and tell me if you make it that far).

What I really need is a SCIENTISTS explanation of the political system and how election results will affect my life. Is there anyone out there who can help me?

By the way…what is the term “science” doing in politics anyway (i.e. political science)? Give me DNA, RNA and Protein. Now that’s something I can appreciate!

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply