Why This Computer Scientist Is Running For Congress
When we asked Patrick Madden a pioneering computer scientist out of New York State how everythings going on his end at the start of our bellow, the response was definitely not what we expected to hear.
Oh, well a tornado merely tore through the area. The powers out in a lot of places, theres a fair bit of damage but you know, its better than good, he said , nonchalantly. Talk about remaining calm under pressure.
Madden is one of the 5,000 STEM professionals that have seemed upon the predominance of President Trump, and the emboldening of his anti-science Republican colleagues, with a mixture of horror and outrage. Deciding that he could no longer simply stay where you are and watch, hes working with 314 Action and running for Congress in New Yorks 22 nd district in the upcoming midterms.
Sitting down with IFLScience, he told us why he supposes change isnt simply necessary atthis phase, its inevitable.
After the election, I only stared at the ceiling for a couple of weeks on end, Madden explains.
Ive long been politically aware, and Im a progressive, Im a liberal guy. There are Republican and conservatives that I can communicate with and respect and understand. Trump, though, is a completely different animal.
I do not believe he is a Republican. He is out for himself and his cronies, and he is bringing the very worst of human nature to the forefront. He is engaging in Olympic-class lying.
Madden notes that if the election would have gone to someone like[ John] Kasich, or even Ted Cruz Im no fan, mind you he said that, despite his major disagreements with them, he could have lived under their presidencies. Trump, however, is anti-fact.
And its not just assaults on the scientific community, Madden says. Hes running after the mainstream press, hes going after judges hes a con man, hes a fraud, hes a hoodlum, and a grafter. He has poisoned American politics.
Madden is one of the few scientists whose research and occupation isnt immediately threatened by the Trump administration. My scientific field is solid, he explains. He says that hes safe from the savages.
As a groundbreaking computer scientist that has one foot in the practical world and one in the abstract world of theory, he helps to design the worlds most advanced computer chip technology and circuitry.
My work is really about integrative circuit design, he tells us. The stuff that lives in cellphones, computers, and TVs. All of this has get better in the last 20 years because we are all looking at hard problems, and we put our heads together and figure things out.
Im running for office as a scientist. Collaboration, and looking for solutions to problems, and improving things based on facts its no different from what I do already, from what Ive been doing for 25 years.
Climate scientists have a harder sell, he notes. Hes not wrong despite the insurmountable piling of increasingly detailed evidence connecting human activity to the changing climate and environment, for most Americans, the phenomenon isnt in their faces its not visceral enough for them to care to accept.
Climate scientists have a harder story to tell, and with so many well-funded climate deniers popping out of the woodwork, they have a truly Sisyphean undertaking before them but everybody has a cellphone.
People know without any question that the cellphone they have today is better than one 5-10 years ago. Thats the scientific community. That is what we do, and people trust it. Now Im taking that to Congress.
Right now, congress is overrun with lawyers, whose chore is to argue their position. So all they do is just argue , no matter the facts, he adds. Im not an ideologue, Im a practical guy. I look for solutions and find stuff that works its that simple.
Madden points out that this election was somewhat hacked over the Internet, referring to the Russian cyber-meddling. He laments the fact that there are afew legislators in Congress whose technological prowess stops short of setting the clock on their VCR.
Contrary to what some legislators believe, the Internet is more than simply cats on YouTube. Maddens considerable technological expertise will undoubtedly be a huge shot in the arm in this regard.
He wont be leaving other scientists behind as he operates, however. From environmental researchers to medical experts to space scientists, he hopes his campaign, if successful, will allow him to back them up and defend them too.
I have friends that work at NASA, and they are unbelievably talented people. If theyre concerned about global warming, I will take their word for it, he tells us. My campaign will support the folks who will have the petroleum companies coming at them guns blazing.
Maddens motivation, however, is far from just the protection and advocacy of science. Trumps administration has been unprecedented in its assault on the American people, especially the less well-off and minority groups.
I have Hispanic ancestry, and friends. I have friends who the hell is Muslim, friends who have disabilities, friends who are women Trump is actively running after all these people that I care about, he tells IFLScience.
Ive had friends and colleagues who come from every kind of background, who have given me encouragement and help and support, and I owe so many people so much for the life Ive got.
Im merely a poor kid from Detroit. I work hard, but I did not do this on my own. Lots of people have my back, lots of people have done good things for me, he adds.
Trump is going after the sort of folks that stood up for me. So I feel like I have to stand up for them. Thats the fire in my belly here.
His opponent will be one Claudia Tenney, who Madden describes as a Trump apologist. According to FiveThirtyEight, she has voted with Trump 100 percent of the time, and often backs up his policies, actions, and belligerence with aplomb.
Tenney has voted for the widely-panned American Health Care Act, has voted to allow Internet providers to sell data to their clients, and has stood by Trump regarding the Comey firing. Unsurprisingly, Madden says he will happily run against her.
Hell surely require assistance, though as will all of 314 Actions candidates. Donations matter, and his adversaries have a considerably larger war chest when it comes to elections.
American politics to a large extent are bought and sold, Madden says. Its a rigged game.
He suggests that there are plenty of rational, decent folks out there even Republican that voted for Trump in 2016 that will see his practical, knowledgeable, and community-focused tale and empathize with it. If enough of them sign onto his campaign, then theres a seriously good chance hell flip the district.
Can I promise to solve every problem within a week? No but I would be looking for solutions and compromises instead of trying to pad my wallet.
Toward the end of our conversation, Madden circles back to the reason that is driving him to enter the political melee in the first place. Science is under attack, of course, but thats not the only thing thats under threat here.
Trump is attacking people that dont truly have the ability to defend themselves, he emphasized. Enough. These folks have their rights, they have a lot of decent people that recognize that something is seriously violated and , now, they have me.
Right now, we have a President who reads the National Enquirer, and just underneath a narrative about Sasquatch he determines one that influences his economic policy, Madden points out. This is going to be a rough ride but there are far more decent people out there that are awake and paying attention than people might realize.
Things look bleak now, but there will be a turning point. We may be able to get our hands back on the wheel, get some more control and survive this.