Democracy in Action: My Front-Row Seat to the Inauguration & Women’s March

  

This weekend, I attended both the inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington. In other words, I spent Friday surrounded by staunch supporters of President Trump and Saturday surrounded by those who oppose him.

Both days, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with smart people who care passionately about this country and who answer the call to engage in the political process. It gave me a unique glimpse into the conversations we are having—and not having—in this country.

January 20th: Inauguration Day

I took President Obama’s farewell speech advice to heart: “If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with one of them in real life.” So, wearing my ANA pin, I spoke to everyone around me.

Everyone I met cared about many of the same issues that I do, like providing health care for all, fostering a strong economy, and ensuring quality education for our children. The people I spoke with firmly believe that Donald Trump will deliver in all of these areas. After President Trump spoke, the man standing next to me even said: “I love this man!”

At every turn, I saw that supporters of the new president are reasonable and willing to listen. For example, when people booed Hillary Clinton, I couldn’t help but blurt out: “This is disrespectful.” Two women near me replied: “You’re right.” Together, we created a small clapping section for all of the Democrats coming to the stage to counter the booing. Of course, I also clapped as Speaker Ryan, Vice President Pence, and President Trump were announced. Respect is respect.

Here’s where respect was lacking. As my husband and I were standing in line to attend the Inaugural Ball, protesters screamed at us. This was after hearing all afternoon about protesters breaking windows and starting fires. One protestor jumped in front of my husband so aggressively that three police in riot gear intervened. People around us expressed their disgust the behavior of “those sore losers.”

January 21st: Women’s March on Washington

The next day, I joined the Women’s March on Washington. I was surrounded by throngs of women and men chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” Attendees were overjoyed that their voice was being heard after the inauguration the day before. It was a peaceful protest—not one person in the throng of 500,000 people was arrested. And yet, every time I saw a sign or heard someone shout Not my president!, the previous day’s discussion about “sore losers” rang in my ears.

The Unifying Message from Two Ends of the Spectrum

Both days taught me about the way we listen to those who oppose us. More than ever, I believe that we only let ourselves hear the most extreme fringes of the opposition. This, in turn, allows us to label the other side as “crazy” and more readily dismiss differing points of view. Instead, what we so desperately need is to generate conversations that begin and end with respect. To quote Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle: “In any controversy, the instant we feel angry, we have already ceased striving for Truth, and begun striving for Ourselves.”

I also learned that nurses are uniquely prepared to generate the important discussions we need to have as a nation. We are skilled, respectful, and trusted listeners and communicators—even when faced with people who have widely differing points of view.

My ANA pin opened the doors to discussion on both days. So, I urge you to use your voice, listen intently beyond the shouting, and generate your own powerful conversations.

 

President Trump – First 100 Days

  

On Friday, January 20th Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. It is the 58th inauguration and the 72nd time the oath of office has been administered to an incoming president.

At 70 years old, Trump breaks Ronald Reagan’s record as the oldest president to ever take office and is now the third president born in 1946, following George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Trump is also the first president since Dwight Eisenhower with no prior elected office experience, and the first ever to have no government or military service.

Trump will enter the White House with Republicans controlling 241 House seats and 52 Senate seats, the largest majorities for an incoming GOP president since Herbert Hoover in 1929. Clinton and Barack Obama enjoyed larger Democratic majorities in both chambers upon becoming president but lost those advantages in ensuing midterm elections

Now that he has officially taken residence in the White House here’s what we could expect in his first 100 days.

Health Care… As in repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Still working on the replace part. However, as one of Trump’s first acts as President he signed an executive order late Friday giving federal agencies broad powers to unwind regulations created under the Affordable Care Act, which might include enforcement of the penalty for people who fail to carry the health insurance that the law requires of most Americans.

The executive order, signed in the Oval Office as one of the new president’s first actions, directs agencies to grant relief to all constituencies affected by the sprawling 2010 health-care law: consumers, insurers, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, states and others. It does not describe specific federal rules to be softened or lifted, but it appears to give room for agencies to eliminate an array of ACA taxes and requirements.

Supreme Court…as in there’s been a job opening on the bench for almost a year and Trump is ready to fill it. He’s said he’s considering a list of right-leaning names.

Trade…as in Trump wants to renegotiate NAFTA (the ’90s trade deal between the US, Canada, and Mexico). And then he wants to pull out of the TPP. That’s the trade deal between the US and 11 other Pacific Rim countries (countries that border the Pacific Ocean like Canada, Japan, Mexico) that President Obama put together. The aim was to open up trade between countries that produce almost half of the world’s goods and services. Critics on both sides of the aisle point out that this could hurt US workers by sending jobs overseas. One of those very loud critics is Trump.

Trump announced a series of executive actions focused on trade and the federal workforce, making good on a pair of his core campaign promises.

The actions, signed at the White House, implement a federal employee hiring freeze, formally withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and reinstate a GOP-backed policy regarding foreign aid and abortion funding.

Energy…as in Trump plans to get rid of a bunch of federal rules on US energy production including oil, gas, and coal put in place to fight climate change. He’s said he’ll also make it easier for oil pipelines (such as the, Keystone XL) to move forward. Trump says this would boost job creation.

Lobbying ban…as in Trump wants the ‘revolving door’ between K Street and the US gov to swing a little slower. He’s calling for a five-year ban on White House and Congressional staffers taking lobbying jobs after they leave. He also wants a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying for foreign governments.

Immigration…as in Trump will move to “cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities” – aka cities that allow undocumented immigrants to stay without fear of being prosecuted or deported. He’s also said he’ll start deporting about two million undocumented immigrants with criminal records. And that he’ll hit ‘pause’ on immigration from regions with a history of terrorism that do not vet people coming into the US. He’ll also practice “extreme vetting” for all immigrants.

President Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act

  

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ANA was proud to be in attendance as  was signed into law (represented by Michelle Artz, Director of Government Affairs). Throughout the year ANA advocated for key elements of the legislation including opioid epidemic funding, comprehensive mental health reform, and investments toward curing cancer.

Statement from the White House:

For nearly a year, President Obama has been calling for real resources to address the opioid crisis and ensure that hundreds of thousands of Americans can get the treatment they need. The bipartisan passage of the bill exemplifies the progress we can make when both parties work together to improve the lives of people across the country.

“The Cures Act makes important investments that will save lives. First, for the families and communities that have lost too many loved ones to the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic, it invests the $1 billion I requested in my budget to address this crisis. Second, the bill answers the Vice President’s call for a Moonshot in cancer research by investing $1.8 billion in new resources to accelerate discoveries. Third, it invests nearly $3 billion to build upon the major biomedical research initiatives we have launched in my Administration – known as the BRAIN and Precision Medicine Initiatives – which are tackling diseases like Alzheimer’s and creating new research models to find cures and better target treatments. Fourth, the Cures Act takes important steps to improve mental health, including building on the work of my Administration’s Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force. And fifth, the legislation advances the progress we’ve made in improving the Food and Drug Administration’s drug development process by, for example, making sure patients’ voices are part of those decisions.

This is a reminder of what we can do when we look out for one another. Like Joe Biden and so many other Americans, I’ve lost people I love deeply to cancer. I’ve heard often from those whose loved ones are suffering from Alzheimer’s, addiction, and other debilitating diseases. Their heartbreak is real, and so we have a responsibility to respond with real solutions. This bill will make a big difference, and I look forward to signing it as soon as it reaches my desk.” President Barack Obama