Trust me when I say that politics has become very personal this year; I’m a nurse. As nurses we ask our patients to “tell us where it hurts.” There are those who are too young and too medically fragile, who don’t have the ability to utter a word; yet we see the result of an eroding social safety net etched on their faces.
Far too many of the patients and people in the community that I care for are suffering as a result of our broken economy. There is hope for them, and we all have the ability to help if we make an informed decision and vote wisely. Before we’re handcuffed by lethal cutbacks and before we become accomplices of injustice and the erosion of our right to protect one another, please join nurses in voting “NO” on Proposition 32, and “YES” on Proposition 30.
Trust me when I tell you that nurses in the State of California, have a duty as patient advocates to prevent harm. A “YES” vote on Proposition 30, and a “NO” vote on Proposition 32 will help prevent harm, heal California’s economy, and protect nurses’ ability to continue to be public advocates, whether we’re fighting for your life at the bedside, or working to inform healthy public policy decisions during town hall meetings and in the legislature.
Why we need to DEFEAT Prop 32
Historically nursing has been more than a working class profession with noble ideals. The public has placed their trust in the nursing profession’s right and duty to exercise their advocacy power on behalf of the most vulnerable: patients who are sick or injured. California’s landmark achievement of passing the first-in-the-nation RN to patient ratio law has been hailed and scientifically validated as a benchmark for ensuring improved nurse and patient outcomes.
The safe staffing law is but one example of the long-standing and important public health and safety regulations that will be subject to attack should the unthinkable happen and Prop. 32 passes. Patients are our “special interest”; but if Proposition 32 passes, the ability of direct care registered nurses to safeguard hospitalized patients will be devastatingly threatened. That’s why nurses like me are urging you to Vote “NO” on Proposition 32. Vote “NO” as if your life depends on it; trust me, it does!
Proposition 32 was written to limit the voice of nurses and other working people in Sacramento, while giving free reign for corporate interests and the wealthiest Californians to exert limitless influence over public policy in California. RN duties and rights will be encumbered and made subordinate to the hospital industry’s for-profit business enterprise.
For nurses, that means that we would have far less ability to counter the efforts of the wealthy hospital industry, insurance companies, pharmaceutical and health technology corporations who are in the halls of the Capital every day lobbying to roll back longstanding workplace safety regulations to increase their own profits at the public’s expense. Similarly, other public safety workers and teachers would be unable to fight effectively on issues that matter to us all – like cuts to our schools and colleges; and, police and fire response times.
We can’t standby silently when we recognize this threat to the health and well-being of the public. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United has come to represent the authentic conscience of the labor movement in California and across the nation. We should not underestimate the wealthy and powerful corporate and media pundits who want us to believe that opposing views should be given equal weight, when one of those views is dangerous and harmful to the social, political and economic interests of main street Californians.
Human beings need certain things to live; yet wealthy, self-interested special interests are trying to buy our democracy. It’s more important than ever for us to rise up to reject austerity and protect humanity, by voting nurses’ values for caring, compassion, and community – which, at the end of the day, are the shared values of all Californians. Nurses are compassionate agents for democracy who promote individual’s and society’s holistic wellbeing in a participatory democracy.
Non-partisan groups like the California League of Women Voters, California Common Cause, Public Citizen and Public Campaign, who advocate for policies that curb Koch Brothers and self-serving corporate influence, are urging voters to join us in rejecting Prop. 32. Public Citizen calls it “an attack on labor masquerading as campaign finance reform.”
Why we need to PASS Prop 30:
Proposition 30 is the Local Schools and Public Safety Protection Act. It will protect California’s schools, colleges and local public safety programs from billions in devastating budget cuts. Our families can’t succeed unless our schools have teachers, colleges are affordable, health care is obtainable, libraries stay open, and neighborhoods stay safe. This initiative puts our state’s priorities back on what matters: our future, our families, and our communities.
People are longing for politics that matter and people need hope that their vote will make a difference. Teachers, nurses, and firefighters and their unions did not cause the economic collapse that has put the American Dream out of reach for most Californians. As Dr. Martin Luther King observed, “It is not a coincidence that the labor movement and the civil rights movement have the same essential origins.” Out of their bold struggles, economic and social reform transformed despair into hope and progress. My hope for California’s future is that these two movements will remain united and move forward with their social pioneering initiatives. We have an opportunity to benefit all who live here in the process. It begins anew with a “YES” vote on Proposition 30.
Californians, please listen to your nurses. And join us in voting “YES” on Proposition 30, and “NO” on Proposition 32.
DeAnn McEwen, RN is co-president of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, and leads the Joint Nursing Practice Commission. This article was originally published at Labor’s Edge.