Thousands of demonstrators turned out on Saturday for the March for Science in Washington, as well as in cities across the United States, and throughout the world. It was, for scientists and their advocates, a red-letter day of protest and alarm-sounding about the necessity of facts and empiricism under the Trump administration, a defiant counter-message to deep cuts in the president's proposed budget. And it drew the vocal support of one of the most popular progressive politicians in the country, too ― here's Bernie Sanders' response to the March for Science.
The junior senator from Vermont had a busy week leading up to the march, which might help explain why he didn't show up ― he's been on a "unity tour" with Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, a multi-state swing that took the duo through Arizona, Florida, Texas, Maine, Utah, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Nevada.
But, despite the fact that he didn't actually take to the streets with the thousands of marchers in the nation's capital, he did acknowledge the big day in the form of a message directed towards President Trump. Namely, start listening to scientists who're warning abut the degradation of the environment and climate, rather than moneyed energy companies and lobbyists who stand to profit from science denialism.
Sanders has long been a loud and passionate congressional voice regarding climate change, describing it as the biggest external threat to American national security during one of his primary debates against eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
He also submitted now-Trump administration EPA chief Scott Pruitt to a testy round of questioning during his Senate confirmation hearings, challenging him to give his opinion on whether human activity is causing climate change. Pruitt insisted that his personal opinion on the matter was "immaterial," which drew an incredulous reply from the junior senator from Vermont.
Really? You are gonna be the head of the agency to protect the environment, and your personal opinion about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial?
Sanders made it plainly clear that he strongly supported the March on Science back in January, in a Facebook post praising "those scientists and researchers who are fighting back."
Science is not Democratic or Republican, progressive or conservative. Science is science. There are no "alternative facts." A modern society cannot survive unless decisions are made on evidence-based research. Congratulations to those scientists and researchers who are fighting back.
In short, Sanders is hardly shy about making the case for science, particularly on matters of the environment and climate change. And even though he didn't actually attend the march, demonstrators eager to hear a pro-science message in the halls of the U.S. Senate can likely count on Sanders being in their corner in the weeks, months, and years to come.