Participation in conventions is vital
The Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) enables orthopaedic surgeons and their practices to pool their political contributions and support candidates who will help the organization achieve its legislative objectives.
This summer, representatives from the Orthopaedic PAC participated in the 2016 Republican and Democratic national conventions. Having members of the PAC at both conventions was more than just a symbol of the orthopaedic presence in the political arena. The conventions provided opportunities for networking and meeting with members of Congress and their staff, party leadership, and key healthcare policymakers and professionals.
The Orthopaedic PAC delegation was led by John T. Gill, MD, chair of the Orthopaedic PAC Executive Committee, and Thomas C. Barber, MD, chair of the Council on Advocacy.
Make America great again
The Republican National Committee held its presidential nominating convention July 18–21 in Cleveland, Ohio, marking the third time Cleveland has hosted this event. Approximately 2,470 delegates and 2,302 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories were in attendance. In addition to nominating the party's candidates for president and vice president, the convention ratified the party's platform. The only orthopaedic surgeon serving in the Senate, Sen. John A. Barrasso, MD, chaired the GOP Platform Committee.
A majority of delegates (1,237) was required to win the presidential nomination. Based on the results of Republican primaries held earlier this year (and some state laws), most delegates were "bound" to vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot of the convention.
Each night of the convention had a different theme—"Make America Safe/Work/First/One Again." On the second night, Donald Trump Jr formally nominated his father. On the third night, Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, formally accepted his nomination as vice president. After accepting the party's nomination on the second night of the convention, Mr. Trump addressed the nation on the final night, making an unprecedented 75-minute-long speech.
The following week, July 25–28, it was the Democrats' turn to approve a platform and nominate their candidates for president and vice president. The Democratic National Committee hosted its formal nominating event in Philadelphia, with 4,765 delegates, nearly twice the number as the Republican convention.
Between the two conventions, on July 22, Hillary Clinton announced that Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) would be her choice for vice president. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.), the longest-serving woman in the Senate, nominated Mrs. Clinton, with Rep. John Lewis (Ga.) making the seconding speech.
After the state roll call had been completed, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who had campaigned against Mrs. Clinton for the nomination, made the following motion: "I move that the convention suspend the procedural rules. I move that all votes, all votes cast by delegates be reflected in the official record, and I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States."
The convention featured both current and previous residents of the White House, including President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as former President Bill Clinton. On the final night of the convention, Chelsea Clinton, Mrs. Clinton's daughter, introduced her mother.
The PAC's role
Political conventions are much more than the televised coverage broadcast each evening. Events are scheduled from early morning until late at night, often outside the convention hall. The Orthopaedic PAC was well-represented at most major events during both conventions. PAC representatives were able to access the convention floor as well as the behind-the-scenes "cloak rooms," where many party negotiations were held.
Representatives from the Orthopaedic PAC were also able to meet with state governors in their suites, had VIP tickets to events featuring many representatives and senators, and held numerous one-on-one meetings with members of Congress. Each of these events helped establish new relationships, or furthered growth in current relationships.
At both conventions, the Orthopaedic PAC hosted a physician and dentist community reception, along with eight other physician and dentist groups. These events featured a watch lounge for delegates to stay up-to-date on important convention coverage as well as live entertainment. Invitations were circulated to all members of Congress, their chiefs of staff, schedulers, and fundraisers. Both receptions were well attended by members of Congress and their staff.
Although the Orthopaedic PAC participated in both conventions, it does not endorse or support presidential or vice presidential campaigns. Presidential races are just too expensive, too high-level and, quite frankly, too divisive. Instead, Orthopaedic PAC funds are directed to House and Senate races, which provide more visibility and access. Recently, the Orthopaedic PAC adopted a policy on presidential races, which reads, in part, as follows:
"While the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons ("Association") and its connected political action committee ("Orthopaedic PAC") may lawfully engage in political activity, the Association and Orthopaedic PAC do not endorse or fund primary or general election presidential campaigns as a matter of policy."
For information on the presidential candidates' positions on healthcare issues see "Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Health Care?"AAOS Now, May 2016.
Stacie Monroe is the political affairs manager in the AAOS office of government relations. She can be reached at email@example.com
Supporting the PAC
This is a critical election year and the Orthopaedic PAC needs the support of U.S. AAOS members to help ensure that those elected understand and support critical healthcare issues. AAOS members who are not currently members of the Orthopaedic PAC can invest in the orthopaedic specialty by making an online commitment at www.aaos.org/pac or by texting "aaos" to 41444.
The financial support of AAOS members enables the Orthopaedic PAC to build new relationships with members of Congress and strengthen old ones, so that the voice of orthopaedists will continue to be heard on Capitol Hill. Join our 2016 team of more than 3,000 contributors today.