I am not sure how much interest there is in American politics, but being American, I thought I would throw a couple of things out there.
I did not watch the presidential debates (no coverage, and not enough bandwidth to download a 90 minute debate). However I have read some discussions and some transcripts on them.
I would think that Americans in science, science education, or any parent wanting a proper science education for their children would have made more of an issue about McCain’s remarks about a projector in the last two debates.
For background on the matter, the Adler Planatarium in Chicago has a projector that is 40 years old. It is so old that they can’t get parts to repair it, and Obama set out an earmark for $3 million to replace it (as well as some other improvements at the planetarium).
This has been characterized by McCain as “pork barrel” spending and further called it “foolishness”.
It should be plain what his views on science education is.
Furthermore, he kept referring to this projector as “an overhead projector”. Now, he is either totally ignorant of what a planetarium does, or (and I think this more likely given the lies throughout his campaign) he is being dishonest and trying make it seem that Obama wants to spend millions on a simple piece of office equipment.
Phil Plait has a more extensive post.
The remarks on the funding of the projector is an indicator of what the administration’s attitude toward science and science education will be should John McCain become president.
The US has been steadily losing her dominance in various sciences and engineering for too long. Bush exacerbated this by educating foreigners at US institutions, but not allowing them to remain in the country afterwards, and this could continue under McCain.
While McCain has talked the talk with regard to Climate Change, he has voted the party line when it comes to research and change. And that party line has been to deny that anthropogenic global warming occurs at all until overwhelming evidence is produced that it does. The Bush administration used junk science for years to drag their feet on this issue, and to this day fight tooth and nail against making any real changes. McCain will likely not make real changes during the next four years either.
Furthermore, because of the Republican pandering to the religious right, we are already years behind in stem cell research. McCain has made clear that research in this area would continue to lag behind the rest of the world until research in the US would become irrelevant if he is in power.
Tax money for research at Universities in general has slid so far down the scale, that it will soon be impossible for any but the largest Universities to conduct it. McCain is unlikely to change this trend where Obama almost certainly will try to push those levels back up.
In spite of a devastating court defeat in Dover, Pennsylvania last year, there are efforts under way all over the country to slip Creationism into the public school systems. While the seperation of church and state is in the constitution, so is beyond the administration’s control, any person who supports religion in the science classroom should not get a single vote from anyone who cares about science education. I have not heard McCain explicitly say that we should “teach the controversy” as Bush did, but, I get the strong suspicion that he feels the same when I read some of his statements.
The bloggers over at ScienceBlogs organized Science Debate 2008, which never became an actual debate, but they did get the candidates’ responses to some basic questions about science and politics. The answers, of course, should be considered in light of each trying to win an election, but if you read carefully, it seems McCain will not change the status quo of the Bush administration when it comes to stem cell research, public school funding, research funding, among others. And change is needed. Urgently. To see some scientists’ analysis of the answers, do a search at ScienceBlogs.com. There are many.
Finally, while not directly related to science education, but indirectly will affect the funding of it, is the current state of the economy. McCain has consistently supported Bush’s policies that brought this crisis about in the first place. This is not suprising because he repeatedly stated that he did not know much about economics until he started claiming that he could get us out of this.
Right now, it is looking good for Obama. I hope it stays that way because McCain will be a disaster for the US.