Love of science, not Trump's ignorance, will make America great again

Amid a pandemic, the president rails against reason itself. The passions of his predecessors throw his failure into sharp relief

We know what the temperature was in Philadelphia on 4 July 1776, because Thomas Jefferson wrote it down at 6am (68F), 9am (72.25F), 1pm (76F), and 9pm (73.5F). Even on this most important day, the author of the Declaration of Independence was never too busy to observe nature. Scientific language helped as he scratched out the words, claiming it was “self-evident” that people had rights, based on “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”.

Like so many of the founders, Jefferson is in the middle of a convulsive reappraisal, one of many ways in which the country feels deeply divided as it enters its birthday weekend. If history is adding to our stress, science is not far behind. When Dr Anthony Fauci testified in Congress this week, it was difficult to know what was worse, his prediction that huge numbers of people will still get sick with Covid-19, or his regret that so many Americans remain stubbornly “anti-science”. The two are, of course, connected.

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