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Introducing HSP’s Summer Associate, Jackson Cherner and His Op-Ed: “The Need for Scientists in Politics”

As a rising undergraduate senior at Cornell University, Jackson Cherner is pursuing a career in government with a focus on international affairs. Jackson formerly served as a legislative intern with Carmen Group, where he worked on client research projects, and he also spent time on Capitol Hill writing briefs on key policy issues ranging from health care to international trade. Jackson has also interned with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and local government offices. Each of these experiences has provided him with a holistic overview of policy and public relations and have helped to strengthen his analytical research skills.

As the newest Summer Associate with HSP, Jackson will be conducting research on bioterrorism, dual-use concerns, and science diplomacy. Jackson will also be writing op-eds on current events pertaining to health security. See his first op-ed piece below!

The Need for Scientists in Politics

The Trump Administration’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, coupled with major defunding of critical science programs within the federal government have drawn scrutiny from the scientific community. From their perspective, the Trump Administration is not only ignoring scientific advice, but it is also depriving scientists the opportunity to positively impact the global community through novel developments in renewable energy and public health. With many spots in his administration left open or filled by individuals who remain at odds with the scientific community, many researchers and scientists are looking at alternative means to impact politics for the betterment of society.

The Trump Administration has already created a huge rift between its policy experts and most of the scientific community through its recent moves. Specifically, Executive Order 13771, otherwise known as “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” sticks out like a sore thumb; for every new regulation created by the EPA, two existing regulations must be repealed. Critics have stated that despite its “good intentions”, this order will destroy the existing framework designed to curb carbon emissions and protect environmental standards without saving the government any crucial costs. On an international scale, the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Accords was met with major rebuttals, calling it a threat to America’s soft power capabilities and future abilities to create international environmental laws. It also threatens years of preparation and existing collaborative efforts amongst our allies to reduce the impacts of climate change. Both events, coupled with inefficiencies in staffing, misdirection in crucial committees, and the lack of proper evidence-based policymaking have reduced the impact of science on the policy agenda.

As a result, scientists have taken to the campaign trail to counter the withdrawal from science and evidence-based policies. Motivated by Trump’s disregard for expert opinions, over 60 researchers and scientists have announced their candidacy for federal office in 2018. Additionally, a new political action committee known as 314 Action is providing support for scientists who have political aspirations. Although many of these individuals are inexperienced in campaigning and are unlikely to make it past their party primaries in the upcoming months, they have the experience in their own fields to build public interest in their efforts to reshape Congress and improve America’s standing. From improving STEM education programs to encouraging technology-driven employment, to generally improving the quality of life for lower-income citizens, scientists have a lot to offer to their potential constituents, and their bright ideas will surely gain followers along their campaigns.

By electing scientists and researchers, we can ensure that experts are given a say on crucial topics and that Congress utilizes monitoring and evaluation, and evidence-based policymaking to support their programs. The American public is tired of continuous borrowing measures and rising federal deficits caused by bloated budgets and over-spending on programs. To cut waste and ensure that programs are reaching peak efficiency, researchers want to implement evidence-based policymaking through randomized tests and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Scientific results and statistical accuracy through testing will ensure that social and economic programs, both domestic and international, meet the goals set at their inception and are not judged by their outcomes. These results also ensure that the success of one program in one region is not carelessly replicated on a national level, where many other regional variables and factors come into play. Overall, the scientific community has the incredible opportunity in the upcoming elections to break down the current barriers between science and politics.

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