Archive for February 29th, 2008

by Rebecca Schmitz

The glow from the chandeliers and pendants at Western Montana Lighting provided an interesting backdrop for the introduction of the Brown-Daines ticket to Missoula voters yesterday, if only because of irony. The candidates were surrounded by light on Reserve Street, but Steve Daines’ far, far-right politics will drag Montana back into the darkness of superstition. How can we trust these two men to lead our state in the 21st century when one of them was the Montana chairman for Mike Huckabee’s campaign?

Daines called Huckabee a consistent leader with down-to-earth credentials that are solid and consistent with the majority of Montanans.

Really? The majority of Montanans support putting AIDS patients in, essentially, internment camps? Most of us don’t believe in or understand the science behind the theory of evolution? We want to abolish the rule of law in favor of the Word of God? Something tells me many Montanans aren’t comfortable with the level of religious fundamentalist and big government intrusion in our private lives that will be part of a (highly unlikely) Huckabee administration, a level presumably supported by his state chairman. Not only that, but if we want our state, and our nation, to enjoy economic success in the new millennium we need to embrace science and education. As Lawrence M. Krauss, writing in The Wall Street Journal, states:

America’s current economic strength derives from the investments in fundamental research and technology made a generation ago. Future strength will depend upon research being done today. One might argue that many key discoveries occurred as a result of importing scientific talent. But as foreign educational systems and economies flourish, our ability to attract and keep new talent could easily erode. Even with a continued foreign influx of scientific talent, it would be foolish to expect that we can maintain our technological leadership without a solid domestic workforce as well. Almost all of the major challenges we will face as a nation in this new century, from the environment, national security and economic competitiveness to energy strategies, have a scientific or technological basis. Can a president who is not comfortable thinking about science hope to lead instead of follow?

Can Montana’s future workforce, today’s students, get the scientific literacy necessary for the 21 century economy from a Brown-Daines administration? Steve thinks so:

“Elections are about the future,” Daines said. “It’s going to take a steady hand to guide our economy through what appear to be unsteady times.” Daines said the Republican team will emphasize jobs and the economy and lay out plans for the more efficient operation of state government.

Sorry, Steve. If Mike Huckabee’s brand of anti-science, anti-human progress “down-to-[flat]-earth credentials” are an indicator, any administration in which Huckabee’s state chairman plays an important role isn’t ready to guide tomorrow’s workforce, let alone today’s economy, in this new century. Our state’s educational and economic success depends on having people in office who understand basic science.  Daines is right in one respect, though. Elections are about the future. And his leadership role in the Southern Baptist minster’s presidential campaign reveals a lot about what he thinks the future should hold for Montana: a return to the ignorance of the past.

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