Do our actions make a difference?


#NursesResist
#ProtectHealth

This morning I heard from a nurse in Seattle asking this question in response to our advocacy alert inviting comments on the proposed rules weakening the Affordable Care Act –  “How can I be sure that my writing, calling and speaking up against these changes to ACA don’t actually encourage them to cut more? They seem to take our protests as success on their parts.” This is a terrific question, and it is one that plagues all of us from time to time!  Here is my response – and I invite everyone to add your comments to this post – to help all of us focus on our determination to resist!

It is true that we really cannot know, at least not right away, whether or not anything we do will make a difference. But it is also true that a common initial reaction, by anyone, to opposition is to dig in further and make a “show” of being emboldened – and for the politicians, this is exactly what they will do for the first few signs of opposition.  What they cannot withstand is a continued, large-scale show of opposition because at that point, it threatens their security.  Those who are elected officials begin to realize they cannot survive with large scale opposition.  Those who are appointed officials are also threatened, because our opposition threatens the elected administration that has put them in place.  It may be true that they will ignore our opposition to all actions that threaten the health of the American people, but we will be on record for standing on the side of the people, and as our opposition persists, and grows, if anything will make a difference, this will.

There is another piece to this – there are things that people do that indeed do help them – which is to keep repeating what they say, even if we say “don’t” – when we say “don’t take away our healthcare” we are actually calling forth the image of what we want them not to do – to take it away. When we repeat their tweets and their promises to repeal, we are actually emboldening them.  And so it is important to focus on what they do, not what they say. We will be posting suggestions for positive action regularly on the NurseManifest website, and also sending advocacy alerts like this one!  (note: we are sending email advocacy alerts to all who signed the Declaration of Solidarity and Resistance and included your email)

This question also inspired me to re-visit my post earlier this month – Guidelines for Resistance – guidelines that we are using as we offer suggestions for action.  Here again is the list of guidelines  (tweaked a bit) – to help sort out, as best we can, what actions can be effective.

1. Don’t use the name of the new President, and do not repeat his tweets, even in protest or in the negative (see the example below).
2. Remember this is a regime – he’s not acting alone; he has put in place many who have no interest in serving the needs of people for health and safety.
3. Do not argue with those who support the new administration –it doesn’t work;
4. Focus on his/their policies and actions, not his orange-ness, mental state, or wealth;
5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow.
6. No more helpless/hopeless talk
7. Support artists and the arts – pay attention to the comedians especially
8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Think like a scientist. Check it.
9. Take care of yourselves; and
10. Resist!
One shining example of why #1 on this list is so important.  A few days ago DJT tweeted that the media is the enemy of the people – and in response, some in the media started the hashtag #NotTheEnemy.”  This hashtag simply brings to mind the image of the media as the enemy, and reinforces the damaging image in the initial tweet.  George Lakoff (the originator of the list above) called the media out on this and encouraged everyone to stop using the “enemy” hashtag and imagery – to use instead #ProtectTheTruth.  Even these very little things are vastly important!  So share your ideas and inspirations here – let’s keep the resistance going – and grow it!

One thing you can do – now


#NursesResist

All the talk about repealing the U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA) is scary stuff for those of us who are concerned about those who would be harmed immeasurably if this were to happen.  Of course this is a U.S.-specific problem, but all countries face ongoing threats that weaken healthcare systems worldwide (for example, the U.K. “Brexit” initiative is a significant threat for their National Health Service). Here in the U.S. we are at least a bit encouraged by the signs that repealing our fledgling ACA may not be easy – that the voices of the people letting MoCs s (members of Congress) know that this is not a good idea – may be getting through.  However, as Rachel Maddow has been advising us for weeks now – watch what they DO, not what the say. In fact one of the most damaging things we can do is to repeat over and over what they say, which only reinforces their message.

So fortunately, we have folks stepping up to help us watch what they do, and giving us leads about what we can do about it.  When, just a few days ago, Tom Price, avid opponent of the ACA, became Secretary of Health and Human Services, put up a proposal to make it harder and more expensive to get coverage under the ACA, and also supporting DJT’s speakupexecutive order that gives insurers freedom to deny and limit benefits for those who already have it – most of the public had no way to know that this was happening.  The brand new DCReport.org, established by David Cay Johnston, is filling this void.  Read the report on the new ACA proposal here – Administration Moves To Block Access To Health Insurance.  Here is the action box that accompanies this report:

Citizens have until March 7 to weigh in on the new rule. Use the rule-making code CMS-9929-P in any correspondence.

Write: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services / Department of Health & Human Services / Attention: CMS-9929-P / P.O. Box 8016 / Baltimore, MD 21244-8016. The phone number is 410-786-7195.

You can also comment online. This link will take you to the text of the proposed rule. There is a comment button on the right.

Of course this is not a dramatic, showy kind of action, and it certainly will not remove the threat that our country is facing. But if nobody speaks up now, then this administration will be further emboldened to continue down a damaging path.  We can at least put them on alert by sending strong and clear messages that they do not have a mandate to continue.

We will continue to alert all NurseManifesters of actions we can take related to health and healthcare – but to stay alert for any issues that concerns you, follow DCReport.org, and other trusted news sources that help guide your own actions.

#ProtectTheTruth
#HealthForAll
#FreePress
#MakeJournalismGreatAgain

 

Postcard campaign – #Idesoftrump, #TheResistance


Nurses Declaration of Solidarity and Resistance

There is an organic, world-wide movement afoot to participate in a massive show of resistance to the new U.S. President – write a simple postcard with your message of resistance and mail it on March 15th. This is an opportunity for those of us who are nurses to join in sending messages affirming our support for world-wide health and opposing all that threatens health of the earth, and all that inhabit the earth. Check out the source I refer to below (The Daily Kos) below for details! Here is the basic information about what to do to participate:

Prepare for March 15th, 2017, a day hereafter to be known as #TheIdesOfTrump. Postcards are important here! Regular mail must go through content inspections that slow them down, whereas postcards don’t have such postal obstacles.
Write one postcard. Write a dozen! Take a picture and post it on social media tagged with #TheIdesOfTrump ! Spread the word! Everyone on Earth should let Donnie know how he’s doing. They can’t build a wall high enough to stop the mail.
Then, on March 15th, mail your messages to:
President (for now) Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
from The Daily Kos, February 7, 2017

Our history is political, so is our future.


     These past couple weeks, I got a chance to connect with extraordinary colleagues across the US and Canada to discuss what it means for a nurse to be political and why. I’m honored today to join the impressive list of nurses writing for this blog. I’m a nurse in Canada and I’ve always been political, but this is not common in nursing today. Nurses and nursing organization often seem to shrink away from discussing socio-political issues in an effort to appear ‘neutral’, yet nurses hold vital knowledge and experience which we could contribute to these important debates.
     Being political doesn’t mean being partisan. This is what I wish to put forward with my first blog on Nurse Manifest. Nurses see on a daily basis the impact of health inequalities, racism, sexism, unemployment and all forms of discrimination on the health of the people we care for. We understand the importance of early childhood education, food security and affordable housing. We see what it costs us as a society to neglect these fundamental issues. We understand why the travel ban that was recently imposed in the US will not protect anyone, rather it will endanger men, women and children left stranded the world over and tear families apart.
     Defunding Planned Parenthood is another threat to the health of millions of Americans. The case of Texas, which has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the industrial world, tragically illustrates what happens when access to reproductive care is restricted. As nurses, we must fight for policies that improve the health of the population, from demanding reasonable nurse patient ratios to enforcing the Geneva Convention rules on refugees. We have a responsibility, because of our knowledge and training, to protect the health of all humans, regardless of race, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation or religion.  
     Being political means being focussed on what is right and healthy for the future of humanity. This means we will let neither fear of censorship or reprisals deter us from speaking out, nor will we be coaxed or lured into silence by demagogy. We will hold decision makers accountable, from heads of state, to mayor’s offices, to hospital administrators.
     Let us not forget our political history as nurses. Many nurses know the political history of Florence Nightingale, but there are countless others. Civil war hero Harriet Tubman was a nurse, as was Sojourner Truth. Irena Sandler, the second world war hero who saved thousands of children from the Warsaw ghetto was a nurse.
     Let us honor their spirits by emulating their fearlessness and dedication to justice and truth. I believe being political is not a choice, but a duty for nurses. The care we provide must extend beyond the walls of the hospital to influence policy. We can make the world healthier.

The Personal is Political


As difficult as it is for me to believe, I only became aware of this slogan early in the 1990s, when I was already in my late 40s! At that time graduate work led me to the exploration of oppressed group theories and specifically feminist theories under that broader umbrella. At that time, and for some time afterward, I associated the “Personal is Political”, correctly or not, with the feminist movement and most specifically with women’s reproductive rights. It was then and certainly is now true on a much broader basis.

 

“Political” seems to have such a negative connotation for so many people who immediately associate it with partisanship, which in itself implies having to “choose sides” or offending friends and should therefore be avoided at all costs. I so often have heard the disclaimer, “I’m not political” when discussing an issue; I’ve seen Facebook friends offer an apology for posting something that others might construe as political (and making excuses that it is worth reading in spite of seeming political) and for announcing they are blocking political posts. And yet, politics can simply refer to relationships within a group and/or activities to gain advantage and/or power within that group, e.g., office politics . Students in my leadership class were challenged to embrace political activism as necessary to the pursuit of social justice. When they protested that they were “not political” I reminded them that if they had ever negotiated for extensions or marks on assignments, they were being political!!!

 

But in its larger sense, i.e, activities related to governance of a specific political entity, such as a town, city, state, country, etc., the personal most certainly must be political; democracy requires it. The freedoms we so easily take for granted – to speak out, to meet, to worship as we choose, etc. have been enshrined in constitutions and charters but are threatened by complacency and/or ignorance. Timothy Snyder, a Yale professor argues that Americans have a year or less to defend American democracy. In a lengthy interview, but one well worth the read, he draws comparisons between Europe in the 1930s and the current time in the U.S. and urges that we learn from history. He makes the point that regardless of the differences between the personalities that may be involved, the conditions and even more importantly the warning signs were there then as they are now -that a change in regime was the intent of those seeking power. And by change of regime, he means a change from democracy to an authoritarian state.

 

For the last number of years, I have travelled to Europe at least once a year, usually on a tour. I love the educational nature of the tours and through them have learned much about European history . Speaking with people who have lived through the Nazi and/or Communist regimes or both, I’ve come to appreciate more fully the cost at which their current freedom has come. Their personal certainly was political. My own parents escaped the Soviet Union a year after Stalin came to power. Many of us have similar stories and for me, it would be a dishonor to the sacrifices they made to dissociate from the political because it has become distasteful!

 

Last year, the tour I took was to England. It was in September, a few months before the American presidential election and a few months after the Brexit vote. I was very aware of being the only Canadian on the tour and wondered if the upcoming election would become a topic of conversation, which, of course, it did! I tried to simply listen but at one point a fellow passenger asked me what I thought. I replied that my fear was that if a certain candidate were elected, it would be the last American election. I was quickly reassured that was not possible because the Constitution and institutions put in place by the Founding Fathers were in essence a guarantee of continued democracy. I hope she’s right; yet recent assaults on the press and judiciary suggest otherwise.

 

The interview with Dr. Snyder referred to above was in response to his Facebook post on “20 Lessons from the 20th Century”). Those lessons contain many political actions that are not visible to others, such as not obeying in advance, believing in truth, and investigating. Others, like “standing out” are more visible, may be more uncomfortable, but are equally important to protecting our freedoms and democracy. He warns that even worse than taking freedom for granted is learning to take unfreedom for granted without realizing that it is our choice and our actions which can make the difference.