At the American Astronomical Society meeting a few weeks ago, I attended a session on the Presidential Transition (a handy summary of tweets from myself and others can be found here). One of the most interesting panelists was Mark Mozena, a former Congressional staffer with Rep. Honda, who had a lot to say not only about the transition, but about the engagement of scientists with policy makers… or rather, the lack thereof.
During the Q&A, Mozena told us he was going to share something to illustrate the current state of science advocacy– here’s what he said: in every Congressperson’s office, there are filing boxes in which incoming commentary from their constituents is recorded. For example, things like immigration, health care, etc., all have their own boxes– and it doesn’t matter whether a constituent is for or against, all calls are recorded and filed by topic.
So few calls are about science, Science doesn’t get its own box. Calls about science are so rare, they get filed under “Other”.
That’s right, my fellow scientists, if you’ve called to discuss anything with your representation, it’s currently moldering between other calls about other issues nearly nobody advocates for.
As I write these words, a Facebook group for a Scientists’ March on Washington has ballooned from a few hundred people to tens of thousands. If each one of those science advocates call their representative tomorrow, I wonder how many offices will need to buy a new filing box and mark it for science?
The best part is, science is so epically fucked right now that no matter what your discipline, there’s something to call about: climate, the definition of life, health care, grants funding for basic research, you name it.
If you’re wondering how and why to interact with your representative, check out the Indivisible Guide— it’s free, very well-written, and can help bring you up to speed on how to make your communications effective.
If you want to look up who represents you, check here.
If you’re going to march, march… but first, let your dialing fingers do the walking.