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My Turn: The far right vs. science

By Paul Bardinas

Here we go again. It’s been less than three weeks since the election that ended in the defeat of the Republican presidential nominee and losses in  the House and Senate. As a Republican, I watched in horror over the last few years as my party took a nose dive off the deep end. Candidates up and down the party ticket openly denied the science of global warming; Romney even mocked the president’s comments on stemming the rise of the oceans. Todd Akin apparently thought that women who are “legitimately” raped would just self-abort, implying that any woman who gets pregnant as a result of a rape must be lying. The party marginalized gays, women, minorities and people who believe in science, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York.
I would have thought that losing an election as handily as the Republicans did would have forced the party to re-examine its out-of-step policies and public embrace of the madness that the far right espouses. On the subject of immigration, it seems many in the party are prepared to do just that. The party also seems prepared to throw their presidential candidate under the proverbial bus. Just a few days ago, Romney was lambasted by many on the right for comments he made to donors where he blamed his loss on “gifts” that Obama made to Latinos, women and the young.
Now that the election is over, I’ve noticed fewer and fewer e-mails about Obama’s birth certificate, his plans to take our guns, operation Fast and Furious or Benghazi. Even Fox News has toned down some of its rhetoric. It seemed for a moment that the party was turning its back on the conspiracy theorists, crackpots and far right pundits that have for so long now held the party hostage. If you thought that too, you would also be wrong.  
Marco Rubio is seen by many on the right as a leading contender for the 2016 Republican nomination. He’s young, Latino and seemingly articulate, basically everything the party’s traditional base. Yet, when asked in an interview by GQ magazine how old he thinks the Earth is, this was Rubio’s answer:
 “I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”
For the record, the Earth is approximately 4.54 billion years old; ask any scientist. Rubio couldn’t answer the question. We are four years away from the next election, yet Marco Rubio already feels that in order to remain a contender for his party’s nomination he must dance around and dumb down his answer. If the party continues to feel the need to insult the intelligence of a majority of its members to cater to a small minority of its base, then its leaders haven’t learned a thing.
If the Republican Party wishes to remain a viable national party and wants to be taken seriously by the majority of American people and the world, then it must stop denying science and reality. When a presidential candidate of a party can’t say that the Earth is more than 6,000 years old for fear of offending his base, then that party has a big problem.
Science, facts and reality are as much part of conservatism as a belief in God. The two are not mutually exclusive.  

Paul Bardinas operates a family business in Salisbury and lives on a small farm in eastern Rowan County

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