Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ignorance Wins

The good news is that ignorance wins just the day but perhaps not in the long run.  The GOP, on a party line vote, singled out political science research to be cut from the National Science Foundation.  Apparently, they think it is better to know less than more.  That makes sense for a party that can relies heavily on a shrinking base--rural white people. 

Sure, I am being defensive about my discipline, but regardless of what I study, the fact that these guys singled out one field for de-funding speaks volumes about their desire to be held unaccountable.  The job of political science is to understand politics, right?  Why would a party want to get in the way of that?  Because it has something to hide?  The funny thing is that political scientists are not journalists--we seek to understand the broader patterns and not the scandal of the day.  However, the broader patterns might just include the impact of gerrymandering on political extremism.  Ooops.

This cut may not make it out of conference when the Senate and House reconcile the various differences, but at least this amendment is appropriately named.  Flake?  Too appropriate for parody, too perfect for fiction.  The only more perfect name for this amendment would be the Ignorance Amendment.

Update: I wanted to add what I said on my facebook stream about this:
For me, it comes down to this: political science was singled out. One can argue about public goods, one could argue about whether poli sci is more liberal, that we communicate our added value poorly, but the reality is that the other folks funded by the NSF have many of the same characteristics. The only thing that distinguishes Poli Sci from the rest of the folks getting NSF money is our subject. What is it about politics that makes it unworthy of analysis that is publicly funded? Is it less important than society (sociology)? Sure, this is among the least worst stances (least damaging) the GOP in Congress have taken but it is also, in some ways, the most revealing.

1 comment:

Frank Cohen said...

Well put. They're ignorant and, academically speaking, illiterate. For instance, there's Santroum speaking of "political science" when the adjective he intended was "politicized." If they really understood our field, they wouldn't act on impulse like this. Anyhow, thanks for the good post.