Trading the Green Bay Packers for democracy

A team of 17 healthcare providers hit the streets to talk to Iowa voters

By: By Dian Palmer, RN

By: By Dian Palmer, RN

As the Packers headed to Arizona for the playoffs, another incredible Wisconsin team, this one made up of healthcare providers, headed to Iowa for a big game of their own: the Iowa Caucus. Our team of 17 who provide healthcare in private homes or nursing homes traded in their chance to sit snug-and-warm in front of the television while cheering for their Packers for a trip to the snowy Hawkeye State to talk to voters about the important issues affecting our lives and our profession.

We all hit the streets to knock on voters’ doors. We reminded Iowans that in places such as Seattle, San Francisco and New York City, when hardworking folks come together they have shown they can make a difference in raising wages to $15 and a living wage. We shared anecdotes about how healthcare providers see patients getting preventive care, such as mammograms and screenings for high blood pressure, thanks to their healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

We talked about a need to stop families from being torn apart by divisive and inhumane immigration policies. We discussed policies to protect black lives and commonsense gun-control laws that could make our communities safer. We shared stories about how these issues touched all our lives personally and made a plea for participation in the upcoming presidential primaries.

With regard to healthcare, we spoke about Secretary Hillary Clinton’s proven track record. She is ready to protect the Affordable Care Act and she has met with nurses across the country to hear their experiences around health and safety issues on the job, quality care for our patients, and the need for national education programs so nurses can grow in their careers.

While the Republican debates have proven to be entertaining and even comical at times, as someone who has been politically active for a long time, the voter apathy this kind of politics creates is no laughing matter. Coming from Wisconsin, it is easy to recognize Gov. Scott Walker and his union-busting tactics as a villain, but a greater evil is the incredible number of voters who got fed up with extremists and decided just to stay home last Election Day. That is the enemy we face in this upcoming election.

We are not alone in our fight. We were joined in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and other towns across the state by our fellow union members and our community partners with our same passion for shaping our future. The issues that drive us are sometimes different but what keeps us knocking on those doors, despite bitter cold or no pay, is we want to reclaim our democracy.

The trusted voices of SEIU nurses will be on the front lines of these presidential elections. We understand the power of our vote and participation in the democratic process. There are sacrifices to be made over the next few months but it is more than worth the time and effort we put into it. The Packers may have lost their chance at the Super Bowl this season but our team continues to head down the field.  To do anything else would be like giving up on our home team. Win or lose, that’s just not going to happen.

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