Admitting that his opponent is not as extreme as some others – “he’s not denying science has value” – Westin points out that Culberson’s prism for what science is is driven largely by “schoolboy dreams at looking through a telescope.” Incidentally, Culberson also voted in favor of the AHCA.
“NASA is a critical organization,” he adds. Noting that Culberson was proud that he overrode NASA administrators on a number of calls, Westin explains that he’s “of the mind-set that the NASA scientists themselves have a pretty good idea of the best direction to take the agency in, not Culberson.”
Putting the funding concerns aside for a moment, the hopeful Democrat sees the President’s anti-scientific rhetoric as equally harmful – particularly when it comes to the unfounded links between vaccines and autism.
“I’d be very surprised if we don’t see changes in vaccination rates in the next few years based on those sort of words,” he tells us. “It doesn’t matter if policy changes; words matter, whether they are a supporter of his or not. It has a slow creeping, insidious effect on how people view doctors, experts – and science.”
“In my mind, those types of comments should be considered disqualifying, but people laugh it off, and say he really doesn’t mean that. I think when people show you who they are, you have to believe them.”
In his mind, his life as a cancer researcher and as a pro-science politician aren’t that different at the end of the day. The ultimate objective in both cases is identical: “This is for my patients.”
“This is no protest or a fool’s errand. It’s a legitimate campaign, with a real team,” Westin stressed. “We can win this – but we’ll need a lot of help.”