The election date of November 6, 2012 is rapidly approaching, and we will probably be glad to put an end to the constant barrage of campaign ads. However, Election Day is really not the only date to think about how your voting voice can count in politics. More important than who wins in a particular election on a single day is your right—your ability—to “vote” all year, every year.
Your individual ballot carries weight, but not that much effectiveness. The reality is you vote with your actions. You can have much more input into your government and society by actually speaking with your elected officials. “Who, me?” you may be asking. That’s right, they actually want to hear from you, the constituents whom they represent: young and old, democrat or republican, whether you voted for them or not. I’ve had the pleasure of going on several trips to speak on behalf of the CSA and ASA with my state and federal representatives, in Sacramento, Washington DC and even Los Angeles. With one (or sometimes multiple) phone calls, you can make an appointment to speak with someone from your legislator’s office. They want to hear from their constituents. But wait, there’s an even better way to be heard…
Host or attend a fundraiser.
You can host or attend a fundraiser for someone who you believe would be or could continue to be a great representative. Recently, I hosted a Meet and Greet for my California State Assemblymember, Holly Mitchell (new 54th district). Several CSA members as well as other people in the district attended. What a fun, fantastic, low-key way to meet someone and get to know them on a personal basis.
We had a wine and cheese event, with participants chatting for an hour with Assemblymember Holly Mitchell and her District Director Sydney Kamlager. Assemblymember Mitchell then spoke briefly and answered questions. She is Chair of the California Budget Subcommittee on Health within the great state of California. I enjoyed hearing about the weighty and difficult decisions she has to make, balancing the needs of the various groups and people around the state within budgetary constraints. Many attendees expressed to me their great impressions of what a dynamic, dedicated, sharp human being she is, and how powerful the opportunity was to engage directly with a candidate/Assemblymember. Whoever wins the election, I feel like my voice has been expressed and heard by a caring, intelligent human being.
You too have many options for getting involved and expressing your voice, whether on your own or through your CSA membership. As an anesthesiologist, political involvement—whether at the state or local level, or even in your place of practice—means impacting the future of our specialty and putting patient safety first. There is so much more than simply voting that you can do to speak out: Becoming a CSA member is an important element, but within the CSA opportunities abound.
The CSA lobbyists, the team of Barnaby & Barnaby, in Sacramento work incessantly to protect and promote the interests of anesthesiologists in the state of California. They advocate on the CSA's behalf on state legislative and regulatory activities affecting patient safety and the practice of medicine by CSA members. They carry the CSA's message to legislative and state leaders, and track and report on state legislation affecting anesthesiologists, pain specialists and critical care practitioners. The CSA is always eager to support and assist members who wish to become involved in affecting change on local and state politics.
Vote with your time. Vote with your money. Vote with your choices. Vote every day, all year long.
YOU can make a difference.