Watching the Trump Administration, I am reminded that there are many kinds of collusion.
The dictionary defines collusion as secret agreement or cooperation for an illegal or deceitful purpose. The Mueller investigation is pursuing a particularly egregious form–one that, if proven, would legally be considered treason. Americans are focused on that allegation to a degree that overshadows other activities by this Administration–activities that involve a more “homegrown”variety of collusion, and tend to carry less serious legal labels.
Trump’s war on science in cooperation with favored industries is, in my view, every bit as treasonous as his relationship with Russia.
Donald Trump’s administration is cutting programs scientists say are proven to protect Americans, from pollution safeguards to teen pregnancy prevention and healthier school lunches, with effects that could last for years.
Experts who have worked in the federal government under Republicans and Democrats say both have sometimes put politics ahead of science but none have done so as blatantly as Trump. And they warn the consequences could continue long into the future.
“It’s as egregious as I’ve ever seen it, starting from the very top with the president just denying the existence of science, manipulating the system on behalf of special interests,” said the former surgeon general Richard Carmona, who testified to Congress that the George W Bush administration pushed him to weaken or suppress public health findings.
Science writer Timothy Ferris has noted the connection between science and liberal democracy; in his book The Science of Liberty, he also documented the historical connection between anti-science and totalitarianism. As he writes, new scientific knowledge exposes prior ignorance and error, a process that doesn’t pose a problem for democratic regimes, since fallibility is a given in such cultures, “but it leaves totalitarian leaders clinging to outmoded doctrines in a changing world.” He quotes China scholar H. Lyman Miller,
Just as the scientific community operates according to anti-authoritarian norms of free debate…so science prospers in an external environment that similarly tolerates pluralism and dissent…Scientific dissidents espoused a strong form of liberal political philosophy that grew out of the norms of their profession.
The assault on science, on evidence and on the proper process for achieving reliable data is an assault on liberty and democracy. Refusing to act on the basis of scientific evidence that inconveniences political allies not only causes significant harm to public health and the environment, it is an attack on reason, progress and the rule of law.
In my view, such behavior is every bit as treasonous as taking orders from Vladimir Putin.