In defiance of dire predictions, children haven’t been sent to workhouses and women haven’t been chained to utensils after the GOP gained strength in the House and the Senate. And Vivek Murthy, the unabashed Obamaphile, was finally confirmed Surgeon General.
To be honest, I always thought the controversy surrounding Murthy’s nomination because of his stance on gun control was rather daft. Stopping doctors from pontificating over guns, such as the Docs versus Glocks legislation, is like banning me from trying to convert Pope Francis to Hinduism. The legislation is a parody not just for its own sake but because what it seeks to prevent is parody as well.
Murthy’s first challenge is to raise the position of the Surgeon General from that tokenism of a career UN bureaucrat to something vaguely useful. Which means Murthy must resist the call of banality, the banality of ideology and the ideology of making all of mankind’s imperfections public health problems.
If Obama’s nominee for the position of Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, is not endorsed by the Senate because Senate Democrats from conservative states are too scared to vote for him for fear of losing votes from a population, egged on by the National Rifle Association (NRA), that passionately supports firearms, the first words that come to mind are ‘unfortunate,’ ‘tragic’ and ‘daft,’ although not in that particular order.
Words that do not come to mind are ‘surprising’ or ‘unprecedented.’ This is the natural result of decades of actively encouraging science to mix with politics.
In an ideal world, or I should say reasonable world, noting that perfection is not a pre-requisite to being reasonable, it would scant matter what Murthy thought about firearms.
He would be judged on his (impeccable) credentials, (unmistakable) leadership, and (imaginative) entrepreneurship not to mention his gumption in standing up for what he believes.
It would, of course, be utterly naïve to believe that in the real world his politics do not matter.
I doubt Murthy would have advanced so precociously, let alone been nominated for the position of Surgeon General, if he were a second amendment absolutist, an implacable limited government advocate or had written extensively about the role of free market in healthcare, all things else being equal.
We applaud him for standing up for his convictions not just because of his standing up but for the nature of his convictions.
This is not to suggest that Murthy’s worldview is expedient. There’s no reason to doubt its sincerity. It’s to suggest that a certain weltanschauung is incompatible with progress in academia and beyond.
That’s because despite living in an age of unprecedented reason we have been unable to render unto science what is unto science and render unto politics what is unto politics, a distinction our species has made little progress in making in the last two thousand years.