As you are probably aware by now, the ANA Board of Directors recently made the decision to uphold the 2019 Membership Assembly (MA) vote that rescinded the 1985 Presidential Endorsement Process and replaced it with a Presidential Engagement Policy. Whether to uphold the will of ANA’s highest governing body, which voted overwhelmingly to end the endorsement process, or endorse a presidential candidate in this year’s election, was one of the most important and toughest decisions this board has made.
We did not take this responsibility lightly. Each of us read every communication sent to us and as a group, we relitigated the debate that occurred at the 2019 Membership Assembly regarding the pros and cons of each option. I trust that you can appreciate the anguish that each board member experienced in making a decision. As an elected leader, could you ignore the will of the majority who, after debating this issue for two years, has already spoken through their vote at Membership Assembly, or send a message that ignores that result even if legally permitted to do so? I believe that you would agree that to undertake such a move sends a message that the ANA board ignores the ANA member governing body.
In making this decision, board members had the tough responsibility of detaching from their personal political views and experiences to act in the best interest of the association. ANA represents the interests of 4.2 million registered nurses with diverse political views. As a board, we could not ignore this fact given we are in the middle of one, if not the most, divisive election in history. The decision of the board, like that of the Membership Assembly, was evidence-based, and it underscored our belief in the critical thinking of each registered nurse.
As a professional organization, ANA does not have a vote in national, state or local elections – but individually, you and I do. ANA’s Presidential Engagement Policy encourages each nurse to not only get out and vote – but to get other nurses and nurse advocates out to the polls as well. As ANA’s president, I know ANA benefits through its work with members of both parties to promote the profession before Congress and with the administration. As a Black man, who has spoken out against racism and the current political temperament fomenting hate and divisiveness, I pledge to personally get out the vote for the candidate that I believe will best represent my own values and priorities for a safe, equitable, just and compassionate country.
I urge you to vote, engage and campaign for the candidates, from those running for president, down the ballot to members of Congress and state and local offices, who most align with your own political views – informed by your personal values and experiences and your professional responsibilities, guided by the Code of Ethics for Nurses. This November and beyond, we must always fight for what is right for nurses, our patients and the public.
Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN
American Nurses Association