Science journals unexpectedly urge the public to vote President Trump out of office
In an unprecedented turn of events, several prestigious scientific journals—including Science, The Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine—pleaded to the American people to vote President Donald Trump out of office in November. Scientific American and Nature even endorsed Trump’s opponent, former U.S. Vice President and now President-Elect Joe Biden (1). Since scientific journals have rarely ever endorsed a presidential candidate, these announcements shocked the majority of the scientific field. For example, the New England Journal of Medicine condemned a presidential candidate for the first time in its history, after remaining strictly nonpartisan for 208 years (2). This breakage from tradition emphasizes the polarizing stances that Trump and Biden have on science.
Most of these journals cited Trump’s coronavirus response as a reason for why they decided to take a partisan position in this election. In an editorial co-authored by 34 people, the New England Journal of Medicine argued that the Trump Administration’s poor response to the coronavirus pandemic had “taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy” (2). The Scientific American, which had never endorsed a political candidate until Biden, claimed that “Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic” (2). These journals elaborated on the failure of the U.S. national leadership to develop a reliable testing system, provide proper equipment to frontline workers, and effectively educate the public on the importance of mask-wearing, social-distancing, and quarantining (3). They also stated that the Trump administration had attempted to politicize and undermine the credibility of the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (3). As a result, they concluded that the United States could have prevented tens of thousands of coronavirus deaths and that the Trump Administration’s anti-science platform caused the U.S. to enter a period of economic recession (3).
Although medical specialists not associated with these mainstream scientific journals have mostly applauded the decision, some argue that this departure from non-partisanship could taint the scientific field’s reputation for impartiality. However, Dr. Jeremy Greene, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, dismissed these claims and instead said that the Trump administration had shown such “a continuous, reckless disregard of truth” that it was time for the scientific community to join together to denounce the sitting president (2). Given the dramatically contrasting stances Biden and Trump have had on science in comparison to other presidential candidates, Greene did not expect for these partisan endorsements to occur in future elections. Greene argued that “no form of engagement [from the scientific community] could work” with the current administration. “If we want a forum based on matters of fact,” Greene said, “the current administration must be replaced” (2).
– Jayden Personnat
- Lee, B. (2020). Nature Endorses Joe Biden, Latest Top Scientific Journal To Condemn Trump’s Actions. Forbes. Retrieved 8 November 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2020/10/15/nature-endorses-joe-biden-latest-top-scientific-journal-to-condemn-trumps-actions/?sh=4e081b42232e.
- Kolata, G. (2020, October 08). The New England Journal of Medicine has remained nonpartisan for more than 200 years – until now. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 08, 2020, from https://www.chicagotribune.com/election-2020/ct-nw-nyt-new-england-journal-of-medicine-trump-biden-20201008-igwtug7zxvatldxcfx5bfayb24-story.html
- Chappell, B. (2020). In Rare Step, Esteemed Medical Journal Urges Voters to Oust Trump. NPR. Retrieved 8 November, 2020, from https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/10/08/921609669/in-rare-step-esteemed-medical-journal-urges-americans-to-vote-trump-out-of-offic