I watched the third presidential debate last night. Overall, I would say that not much new ground was covered. However, there was one moment that I thought was quite telling. At one point John McCain suggested that school vouchers are the solution to all our education woes. Barack Obama replied, “I disagree with him on this, because the data doesn’t show that it actually solves the problem”.
And that, my friends, exemplifies why I will be voting for Barack Obama. I think that of the two Obama is much more likely to search out relevant data and let it inform his decisions.
The radical right may believe that unregulated markets are the solution to everything, and the hard left may believe that capitalism is the root of most of our ills. Frankly, I don’t care what anybody thinks if they have derived it from the first principles of their ideology. If you don’t have evidence to support your plans I am pretty damn sure that they are wrong. Most likely, badly wrong.
Outcomes are the only thing that matter. I want a government that is more interested in implementing policies that will achieve the outcomes we all want – economic prosperity, physical security, reduced poverty, etc. – than ones their ideologically imprisoned “base” would approve of.
This is where the new Progressive movement could enter the political arena for real. What we need are a new set of politicians who are focused on addressing the issues that actually affect our country. People who want to restart our recently stalled progress. Leaders who will search out the relevant data and use it to construct plans that have real chances of succeeding. Or, at the very least, not our waste time and money on ones completely doomed to failure. We need a new ideology of evidence based governance. And we need it now.
On a related note, the Science Debate 2008 is quite interesting. I highly recommend reading both the candidates’ responses.