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Cliff Hanging: The Future of Norquist, Rubio, and Medical Science Leadership.

Posted on | November 26, 2012 | 4 Comments

Mike Magee

As we have seen over the past few days, there are pledges and there are pledges. It appears that Republican leaders’ allegiance to their country (in the face of the impending fiscal cliff) is winning out over their allegiance to Grover Norquist. But the problem is bigger than money or tax policy. And it’s larger then the willingness of political leaders to bend the truth whenever it suits their needs. The greater challenge is that government relations has trumped public advocacy in our medical science organizations. Leaders lobby quietly in Washington and throughout state houses, but rarely speak publicly in defense of scientific truth and integrity.

Witness another unanswered public assault on science (to add to the Akin collection) just this past week by Senator Marco Rubio. To a reporter’s question, “How old do you think the Earth is?” His response: “I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, but I think that’s a dispute among theologians…I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”

Hasn’t the time come for all health professional leaders – including those in health care systems, medical schools, nursing school, health policy schools, and state and national health care organizations to discover their public voices. Their unwillingness to embrace an expanded role in this health consumer world makes us all vulnerable. Their mute state leaves an enormous void and is viewed as consent.

Creationism – mute – consent.

Akin’s “legitimate rape” – mute – consent.

Global warming a hoax – mute – consent.

And health leaders, you get no credit for drawing up a white paper, press release, peer review publication or study without uumph behind it. Those are just words gathering dust. I want to see full blown advocacy; a loud voice; an integrated public affairs push that shows you are engaged for real. You know what I mean, the kind of effort you make when member  finances and professional control are threatened.

Bottom line is, bullies like Grover, future presidential candidates like Rubio, or sheer crazies like Akin emerge because they  face no opposition. I want to see health and science leaders lead. I want to see flesh, and passion, and risk-taking.

What does that look like?  Witness Governor Christie’s close partnership with President Obama in response to Sandy in NJ. What does it sound like? Listen to Steve Croft’s interview on 60 Minutes of Norquist  who has had 270 + elected officials tied up in knots as he hides behind a forced insipid smile. Who gave him this power? Who gave Akin his power? Who gave Rubio clearance to be glib and disingenuous?

Timid Medical and Scientific Leaders don’t cut it in a modern mobile connected world. Want to be relevant? Engage in public discourse on the record. Build a modern communication platform. Push back. Speak up for goodness sakes.

For Health Commentary, I’m Mike Magee

Comments

4 Responses to “Cliff Hanging: The Future of Norquist, Rubio, and Medical Science Leadership.”

  1. Sheila Strand
    November 27th, 2012 @ 11:40 am

    Dr.Mike, You nailed it! Evil happens when the good stand silent. Each of your examples demands a response from each of us — in addition to the health care community. I also agree, however, that doctors hold a special place in our country and should use their collective voice to decry the type of ignorance rampant in Washington/politics.

  2. Mike Magee
    November 27th, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

    Thanks, Sheila. I agree completely with you that in the face of ignorance and falsehood, we need all citizens (not just doctors) to stand up. Passivity breeds increasing radicalization, as we have seen.

  3. Randy S
    November 27th, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

    We constantly hear how American needs to be leaders in math and science. Yet some politicians and their backers are willing to disregard verifiable evidence in order to pander to a large, highly organized voting block. Fundamentalist religions insist that every word in their holy book is the “inspired, inerrant infallible word of God.” As such, acceptance of any contradiction is seen as a slippery slope that could undermine their entire faith. One only has to look at the Inquisition’s prosecution of Galileo. The church’s ultimate acceptance of scientific fact hardly resulted in their demise.

    The global warming deniers reject the overwhelming consensus of science. But recent reports by Munich Re and others show just how serious the global insurance industry views the problem. Insurers aren’t pushing a political or ideological agenda. These meticulous data crunchers are seeing overwhelming direct evidence of climate related disasters and are adjusting rates to deal with them.

    Global warming deniers are free to reject the conclusions of science.. but they can’t ignore the fact that we’re ALL going to be paying more for insurance –because of climate change– in the coming years.

  4. Mike Magee
    November 27th, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

    Thanks, Randy, for this excellent point. As with property insurance, I would expect that if we deconstructed the price of passivity and silence in the face of ignorance, sector by sector, it would stagger the mind.

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