Showing: 1 - 2 of 2 RESULTS

New England Journal Of Medicine Takes Stance On Presidential Election For First Time

If you had a nickel for every time you’ve heard the phrase “unprecedented times” this year, you’d probably have a lot of nickels. Well, here’s another thing that’s truly been unprecedented: major scientific journals telling you to not vote for one of the major candidates in an upcoming U.S. Presidential election. For the first times in their long histories, The Lancet and Scientific American have clearly urged people to not re-elect current U.S. President Donald Trump this November 3. Scientific American went one step further by endorsing Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden for President, as Tommy Beer described for Forbes. And now a third prestigious scientific journal, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), has taken a stance with an editorial entitled, “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum.” Take a wild guess from the title as to what they may think of the Trump administration.

Yep, “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum,” may sound like the life and times of a dust ball and how an encounter with a vacuum cleaner really sucks. But in this case, it summarized what the Editors for NEJM wrote about the Trump administration’s continuing response to the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. And spoiler alert, it was not positive, unless you count positively scathing as positive. They described the pandemic as a “test of leadership” and “here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

In the immortal words of Tag Team, whoomp! There it is. It’s really the first time since since its founding in 1812 that the esteemed medical journal has taken a clear position on a U.S. presidential election. That was a streak of about 208 years, which is approximately 7592 Scaramuccis, that has now been broken. This is by no means small news in the scientific and medical communities. Some scientists and physicians avoid discussing Presidential politics like a radioactive piece of Shoofly pie covered in sludge. But as many prominent scientists have recently point out, the upcoming election is no longer about “partisanship.” When major scientific journals have to take such a stance, you know the upcoming election is not your typical election.

The editorial went on to state that “the magnitude of this failure is astonishing,” and point out how the U.S. “had ample warning,” but was “incapable of testing effectively and couldn’t provide even the most basic personal protective equipment to health care

New England Journal of Medicine publishes first election stance in anti-Trump editorial

“Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions,” said the piece, which was signed by 34 of the journal’s editors. “But this election gives us the power to render judgment.”

The journal has only published four other editorials signed by all the editors, including an obituary for longtime editor in chief Arnold S. Relman, who died in 2014. The three others, published in 2014 and 2019, tackled contraception access, abortion policy and draft guidance from the federal government on informed consent requirements in standard-of-care research. Never before have the journal’s editors collectively weighed in on an election, let alone a presidential race.

The coronavirus, which has now killed at least 211,000 Americans, changed that. Wednesday’s editorial argued that national leaders had the opportunity to limit the virus’s spread and prevent widespread illness, deaths and lasting economic turmoil.

“Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test,” the editorial said. “They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The U.S. “leads the world in Covid-19 cases and in deaths due to the disease,” the editorial says. Its infection and death rates have outstripped those in China, where the pandemic began; in Japan, which has a large and vulnerable elderly population; and in Vietnam, which has fewer national resources. And testing has also lagged behind much of the world, the editorial said, when measured by tests performed per infected person.

“The magnitude of this failure is astonishing,” the editorial said. “We have failed at almost every step.”

Differing opinions on neutrality in the scientific community have led some journals to regularly weigh in on political issues and others to abstain almost entirely. NEJM’s editors previously remained mum on elections and most other political issues, in part to preserve the perception of neutrality and credibility behind the peer-reviewed science the journal publishes.

Wednesday’s editorial shifted that stance, deriding the administration for undermining experts and relying heavily on layman allies to promote policies that furthered Trump’s political aims.

“Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them,” they wrote. “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.”

Officials in the Trump administration have tried to discredit and undermine some experts who have criticized the way the federal government responded to the pandemic. Last month, Michael Caputo, the top communications official for the Department of Health and Human Services, claimed scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were conspiring against the president and engaged in “sedition.” Others have tried to tightly control information about the state of the pandemic.

The NEJM isn’t the first science-focused publication pushed to weigh in on the election due to the tense relationship between the Trump administration and the scientific community. Scientific American also published a presidential endorsement for the first time in its October issue, urging its readers to vote for former vice president