Fellows, staff take opportunity to voice viewpoints
Every 4 years, at the Democratic and Republican party conventions, Americans from all walks of life have the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with members of Congress, media personalities, and government representatives from all levels of government. As I discovered this year, attending the conventions is an exciting, rewarding experience.
The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and our Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) were well represented at both the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August, and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul in September. Our delegation included AAOS past president Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, who currently chairs the Orthopaedic PAC; AAOS chief executive officer Karen L. Hackett, FACHE, CAE; staff from the AAOS office of government relations, and several AAOS fellows.
We took advantage of every opportunity to meet with legislators and key staff—both formally and informally—to discuss the challenges facing the delivery of health care and the efforts of the orthopaedic community to address these challenges, ensure quality health care, and improve access for the uninsured.
Democrats in Denver
The Democratic Party Convention was a week of celebration honoring the historic nomination of Sen. Barack Obama, the first African-American to be nominated by a major political party for President of the United States. The AAOS took the opportunity to meet with several party leaders and to begin building alliances, recognizing the shift in power in Congress that began in 2006 and is expected to continue in 2008.
We had the opportunity to meet with Sens. Ken Salazar, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Debbie Stabenow, and Harry Reid. We also met with several members of the House of Representatives, including Reps. Elijah Cummings, Doris Matsui, Rahm Emanuel, Chris Van Hollen, and Dutch Ruppersberger.
Although this was a national convention, we did have the opportunity to address state issues as well. The presence of both governors and state legislators gave us the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the orthopaedic community. We met with the governors of Maryland, Colorado, and West Virginia, as well as with the chair of the Democratic Governors Association.
Republicans in St. Paul
Hurricane Gustav, which made landfall off the coast of Louisiana on the first day of the Republican National Convention, partially interrupted the proceedings. But just 24 hours later, events were back on track. The nomination of Alaska’s Gov. Sarah Palin was a historic first for the Republican Party.
We had the opportunity to meet with Sens. Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Norm Coleman, John Ensign, Jon Kyl, Jim DeMint, Mitch McConnell, and John Barrasso, MD, as well as Reps. Tom Price, Phil Gingrey, Pete Sessions, and Spencer Bachus. We also attended events sponsored by the Republican Governors Association, which provided the opportunity for us to discuss issues that can be addressed on the state level.
Mark your calendars for Nov. 4
Casting a ballot is both a fundamental right and an important responsibility. But remember that this election is not only about selecting our next president. It also includes races for federal and state legislative seats, governors, mayors, or city councils. These positions are equally important in the shaping of the future of our healthcare system and should not be taken lightly.
I urge every AAOS fellow to work toward becoming a key contact with his or her elected officials. Involved AAOS members, who can serve as representatives of the orthopaedic community, are essential in making sure that our concerns are heard and addressed. But the most important action you can take is researching candidates for office and casting your vote for the person that best reflects your ideals and will be most likely to address your concerns and the concerns of our community if elected.
On Nov. 4, I hope that you will follow in the steps of our forefathers and exercise your right to vote. When you vote for president of the United States, you will be making history.
Tony Rankin, MD, is president of the AAOS.
Did you know?
- 122 million: Number of people who voted in the 2004 presidential elections—but this translates to just 60.7 percent of the eligible electorate
- 78 million: Number of people who stayed home in 2004—more than voted for either candidate
- Minnesota: State with the highest overall turnout in the 2004 presidential elections
- $100,000: Cost of Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign in 1860
- $89.6 million: Amount spent by Sens. McCain and Obama in one month (July 2008)
- 270: Number of electoral votes needed to win the presidency