This has certainly been an interesting and exciting presidential election year. I hope many of you have been tuned in and by now have learned that ANA has endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for President. I was quite excited to hear the discussion and debate regarding this decision.
I have always been a firm believer in the ability to make change through the political process and the public policy arena. This is one of the reasons I am so proud that ANA has a rich history of engaging in the political process. A strong political and legislative advocacy program is a surefire way to help address and advance the issues important to nurses and their patients.
For ANA, presidential elections provide a fresh opportunity to bring the nursing agenda to center stage in the debate of the issues that will shape America’s future. The ANA-PAC Board of Trustees has worked to build an information-rich endorsement process, with nursing at its core. It developed a candidate questionnaire reflective of ANA’s goals and a clear-cut scoring tool, bringing important objectivity to this critical decision-making process. When the ANA Board considered all the information presented to them, they had full confidence in the fairness and integrity of the endorsement process.
To date, the 2008 presidential campaign has been like no other in our nation’s history. The candidates have had to deal with an extremely front-loaded nomination calendar, which has heightened the need to raise vast sums of money and placed an even greater premium on the time spent meeting with voters in early voting states. This new and unique reality had a significant effect on ANA-PAC’s ability to engage with the presidential campaigns of both parties. For 5 months, the ANA-PAC and ANA Government Affairs staff worked extremely hard to engage with candidate campaigns, often experiencing frustrating delays and unresponsive campaign staff.
Ultimately, their persistence paid off. While ANA was not able to subject all the candidates to the full breadth of its endorsement process, ANA-PAC was able to compile an extensive endorsement portfolio on the remaining White House contenders. They produced a robust notebook that provided a detailed and thoughtful analysis of the presidential hopefuls, offering a record of the candidates’ responses to ANA’s questionnaire, their healthcare position papers, the most recent fundraising and polling data available, and in a few instances, the healthcare and nursing perspectives shared during meetings with the candidates themselves.
The ANA members were encouraged to vote using a secure on-line voting system. The evidence was clear that an endorsement of Sen. Clinton was warranted. We know that this particular election year has been one for the history books, but we also are reminded that as a nursing profession, we cannot sit on the sidelines and watch—we need to be at the table. The stakes are high and the future of nurses, patients, and health care is at stake. If the nursing profession does not get involved, someone else will speak for us. I am willing to risk the consequences of endorsing a particular candidate. Nurses’ voices need to be heard!
Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR
American Nurses Association