Scientists are marching straight to the campaign trail

Victoria Fleischer

Victoria Fleischer Director of Video, Think Progress

Fed up with what they view as a war on facts, waged by the Trump administration and Congress, thousands of people rallied in the rain at the Washington, D.C. March for Science on April 22.

But for some scientists, marching isn’t enough.

“We need people who understand the value of science and who are advocating for that,” Ekaette Mbong, a biomedical researcher from San Diego, California, told ThinkProgress. “In order to be the change that I want to see I think I have to actually go out there and put myself out there.”

To fight back against the rising tide of anti-science policy, Mbong wants to step outside of her scientific comfort zone and run for office. And she isn’t the only one.

Shaunnessy Naughton is a former chemist who ran for Congress in Pennsylvania twice before founding 314 Action. The nonprofit trains and supports individuals in the STEM community as they run for office.

“We really have a dearth of people with scientific backgrounds in Congress but really at all levels of government,” said Naughton. “Scientists have to get involved in the electoral process and get elected to office because that’s how I think we’ll have a more pro-science agenda.”

Watch the video above to learn more.


NADEEM MAZEN: Scientists are just like, obviously, just like everyone else. and just like everyone else, not participating is it’s own statement. Not participating is a political commitment. When you do not participate, you are committing to the way things are. Often you are committing to things getting worse.

PATRICK MADDEN: Something’s been building for a number of years, a sort of anti-science, anti-fact, anti-information attitude that’s been cropping up around congress or legislators in general. And I think it really just went off the rails at the election.


Patrick Madden, a computer science professor who is going to run for Congress in New York, joined the March for Science in Washington, D.C. CREDIT: Victoria Fleischer/ThinkProgress.

TRUMP: Department of Environmental Protection, we’re going to get rid of it in almost every form.

CNN: His EPA pick sued the agency 12 times.

PBS NEWSHOUR: The Environmental Protection Agency with a proposed 31% cut.

CBS: Trump took the first step toward erasing rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants and easing restrictions on new coal mines.

SHAUGHNESSY NAUGHTON: Those attacks didn’t start with the Trump administration, but it certainly has been a catalyst for the scientific community to step up and get involved in electoral politics. If you’ve never run for office, it can be pretty daunting. So I founded 314 Action to encourage scientists to run for public office.

MADDEN: I’m going to be running for Congress in New York’s 22 district.

EKAETTE MBONG: I am considering running for public office in San Diego. I needed to do something beyond just being angry.

MAZEN: I am a city counselor in Cambridge Massachusetts. When an administrator hands me a report and says you should rubber stamp this; I know whether there’s bias by looking at the number and looking at the report. And I can tell when there’s a report and I’m just being asked to find some creative problem solving.

MADDEN: We’ve made cell phones and everything else much better year after year and it’s not just dumb luck. It’s not that it’s easy, it’s how we the scientific community, the engineers, attack these problems. And so this is a skill set I’ve built up. I’m not smarter than the average bear, but I try to do my work carefully.

NAUGHTON: We went from a war on science to a war on facts and that’s a really dangerous place for us to be in as a nation.

MADDEN: I’m one of these scientists who actually makes stuff. If you think I’m a liar, then your cellphone doesn’t work. I have great respect for the climate scientists. But the challenge they have is that if it’s a cold day, then someone in Congress will say it was a cool day today therefore all the scientists doing this work are liars. So I’m trying to stick my neck out and maybe be a leader of the charge of the science community and that my branch of science goes right into the consumer hand.

MBONG: It also doesn’t sit well with me that there’s not a lot of people who look like me in public office. We need people who understand the value of science and who are advocating for that. And not just through a society but are actually on the hill or actually in local office and really advocating daily. In order to be the change that I want to see I think I have to actually go out there and put myself out there.

NAUGHTON: Science is and always has been political. Whether is was nuclear weapons or the fact that the earth orbits the sun. But what we’ve seen too much of lately are politicians meddling in science. And unashamed to try to silence scientists. And I think the way we push against that is to claim a seat at the table.

MADDEN: My wife does knitting and there was somebody who knitted a whole bunch of nerdy computer various patterns and so I’ve got a resistor with a battery, a resist hat. Rocking the resistor hat.


Reposted from Think Progress.