Democrats favor LGBT people in the culture war but seem to favor only certain kinds of science, not including space exploration or high energy physics. Two areas where fundamental physics expertise is of value. Too often science priorities are viewed as another front in the culture war. Joe Biden is likely above that, but the rest of his party has historically had a habit of cutting funding to major science projects. First let me present evidence for this fact both past and current, then I will reflect. It is under democratic administrations that the Super Conducting Super Collider was cancelled. A move which crippled US high energy physics. It was under Barrack Obama that the constellation program was cancelled and replaced with private space ventures and given a lackluster budget as NASA focused on climate change.
There is every reason under the heavens to believe this will be the fate of NASA projects that have cost a lot of money. I predict right now that if the James Webb Space Telescope, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, and the Artemis Moon program will be either be outright cancelled or curtailed to the point where no meaningful progress can occur. Plus many of Bidens public supporters call loudly for the disbanding of the Space Force simply because it was fully stood up under Trump. When really it is something that was in the works for a while.
Biden is likely above being petty. Plus he is old and thinking about his legacy as a human being. However, not everyone in his party is like that.
The Super Conducting Super Collider. President Clinton wanted to seek international help from Japan to fund it further. His advisors told him not to seek such help. The then democrat-controlled congress, house and senate of 1993 cut funding fully (1).
NASA’s Constellation Program. After putting in place the Augustine Commission to research the issue of our space program. The constellation program was cancelled. The multi pronged constellation program which had one rocket called Ares I rated for humans, which had even test launched already, and the heavier Aries V was cancelled. Instead NASA would focus on the now well over budget SLS. While also making room for space ventures such as space X (2).
Under Trump our space program grew. At the top he created a cabinet level VP chaired institution, the National Space Council. On a personal level. Under Trump there has been a window, a crack, a sliver of space for someone like me to contribute to that exploration. Even if it is just as a theoretical physicist working on a probe that will launch over a decade from now.
There is reason to hope that the current Democratic Party is not like the Democratic Party of 10-20-30 years ago anymore. In 2019 they did propose to increase the budget for other non-medical science agencies like the National Science Foundation (3). At the same time there are opinions like this expressed in major media “Forget new crewed missions in space. NASA should focus on saving Earth.” Those being the words of Lori Garver an Obama era deputy NASA administrator. (4)
Trump Against Transgender Rights.
It is undeniable that Trump has been against transgender rights. In large part due to the evangelicals in his base. 4 more years of Trump and the right of a transgender person to use a restroom might be in question. That is important. That is fundamental to the life here and now of many many people.
I get that… I REALLY GET THAT.
The thing is space exploration isn’t for here and now and the immediate future. This is something that is an investment for the future. IT is about something far bigger than the president, or party, or nationalism. Of all the things Trump has done putting us on the path to be able to access the Moon and its resources are one thing that should stand. Of all the things that he has done it is this that can lead to a real and enduring solution to the issues of energy production, resources, and climate change. To derail this now just because “Trump did it” would be so petty. So very petty.
I hope not just for my own career being able to exist, but for the sake of human kind that this incoming president and Vice President even more can rise above that.
For me as a human being this presidential race was a wash. Either I would get to live under a president where I could have more rights but less job prospects, or a president where I’d have to worry about my rights but not so much about my career.
Bright Sides To A Biden Presidency For Both The Ambivalent And The Opposed
Under Biden we will get or not get the following.
- A president who at his age literally has almost no time to worry about his own political future and by nature will have to worry about the country as a whole. This is probably his only term of physical and mental fitness.
- Four Bore Years. Four years where presidential briefings will not be explosive, dramatic, contentious, entertaining events that normal people watch. Four years of no knowing the name and face of the members of the Washington press corp.
- A president who will not be a personally polarizing figure. The issue conservatives have with Biden will be his policies not his person, not his demeanor. At most a chuckle at a gaffe from time to time.
- A president who will be more of a listener that then makes a final decision. It would not surprise me to find that once the sting of defeat wears off former president Trump might be one of those that President Biden might every once in a while, listen to. That would be the ultimate sign of unity. We should all want that.
- A president who provides stability while the rest of the political landscape resets. We need both parties to realize it cannot all be about elite college educated suburban whites and extreme evangelical Christians. The vast majority of US are people who just want to be able to have a job, pay our bills and live in peace and safety.
It is up to the rest of our political class to take this chance to not vilify the other side in this election as 100% good or 100% evil. If we do that, we will get a civil war in the near future. It is up to the better angels of their nature to prevail. Biden prevailing is not automatically that… neither would it have been if Trump had prevailed.
A Bright Side For President Trump.
He should not feel like a loser being one of only 45 people to have been president and not spending four more of his remaining years grinding when most people are retired. Anyone calling him a loser who has not been president or at least a politician of high office needs to take a hard look at their own life. Then grow up and be the bigger person they think they are…who Joe Biden has called on us all to be.
Popular vote wise Trump is the second biggest raw popular vote getter of the 2000’s behind Biden. Hopefully, he can just be like George HW Bush and Jimmy Carter and realize that life as a former president is better than life as a president. At least once all court cases are settled. As John Adams said:
John Adams was thrilled to learn that his son, John Quincy Adams, had been elected the sixth president of the United States. But he also remarked, "No man who ever held the office of President would congratulate a friend on obtaining it." #FathersDay pic.twitter.com/nAKIecWqLI— American Battlefield Trust (@Battlefields) June 16, 2019
If he wants to get his one last jab at Biden a hearty congratulations would be it. Those who opposed Joe Biden should congratulate the living daylights out of him.
Me, I’m going to be ambivalent. As John Adams knew unlike almost any one else that is the best way to be about anyone becoming president.
- Riordan, Michael. A bridge too far: The demise of the Superconducting Super Collider. Physics Today. [Online] American Institute of Physics, 2016. https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/PT.3.3329#:~:text=When%20..... 10.1063/PT.3.3329.
- Malik, Tariq . Obama Budget Scraps NASA Moon Plan for '21st Century Space Program'. Space.com. [Online] February 1, 2010. https://www.space.com/7849-obama-budget-scraps-nasa-moon-plan-21st-centu....
- Elis, Niv. House Dems up funding for science agencies, ignoring proposed Trump cuts. The Hill. [Online] May 16, 2019. https://thehill.com/policy/finance/444025-house-dems-up-funding-for-scie....
- Garver, Lori . Forget new crewed missions in space. NASA should focus on saving Earth. Washington Post. [Online] July 18, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/forget-new-manned-missions-in-sp....