I attended two terrific events yesterday. A Taste of Emerge was an introduction from the group Emerge, which trains women to run for office. The Future of Healthcare was a panel discussion. They are each detailed below. At the end of the second event came the high point of my experience of this convention. A compliment I will not soon forget.
I dropped by the Progressive Democrats of America location: a place to stop and recharge and be amongst (in my case) like-minded people. I was then walking back to the next event, when the collision occurred. The sidewalk was narrow and filled with people. The street was blocked with orange barriers as there was construction. I saw him coming. A big guy. I tried to get out of his way, but there was nowhere to go. He knocked me into the orange barrier, and the brunt was taken by my bad knee. He was playing Pokémon Go. He never saw me, although a couple nearby people yelled at him, then stopped him, and he picked me up. My first thought was that those barriers are a lot sturdier then they look.
Deciding that an ice pack and bracing my knee was the best use of my time, I hobbled to SEPTA. I rode the train with two DNC volunteers. Pat is visiting from Ocean City, NJ and having a great time here in Philly. Irene looked at me and said “I think I know you…wait, I’ll get it….don’t you run voter registration drives? I think I’ve worked for you.” I told her she’d be hearing from me soon as we’ll be doing it again.
Taste of Emerge Breakfast
Emerge is the premier training organization for women candidates. The goal is to help progressive Democratic women rise through the ranks and fill the pipeline. The organization has trained over 2,000 women since its inception in 2002. Turns out that there are 520,000 elected political offices in America. Emerge has groups in 16 states, and of the 2,000 women trained, 52% have run and 70% of them won their races. Incredibly impressive.
The most interesting thing I learned was that when women run for office they tend to run because they want to DO something. There is an issue that matters to them, a problem to solve, a commitment to an idea. Meanwhile, for men, it’s much more likely that they run to BE something, like a mayor or Congressman. It’s a fascinating distinction, and the point was driven home when Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) spoke. She pointed out that Oregon is run by women in all the major elected positions, and has automatic voter registration when residents turn 18. Women, she said, find commonality and work together to get things accomplished. In Congress, since she’s a member of the minority, she works towards building bridges on issues that also resonate with Republicans.
The training part of the program centered on exercises to help the attendees, many of whom are planning on running for office, to ascertain their readiness to run, decide on a race, and do the work and the planning necessary to successfully run for office. The program closed with an incredibly uplifting video showing Emerge graduates talking about what they learned, and the reasons they ran for office. If you’re thinking about running, definitely check out their programs.
The Future of Healthcare
This panel discussion was sponsored by RealClear Politics, The American Nurses Association (ANA), Walgreens, the American Pediatrics Medical Association and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. The Keynote was provided by Pam Cipriano, President of the ANA.
We all know a nurse, Dr. Cipriano opened with. There are 3.6 million nurses in America, or one of every hundred people. Nurses are at the foreground of the politics of healthcare. Nurses are everywhere: not just hospitals and medical offices, but also schools, businesses, malls: the front line of medicine. The ANA is committed to working towards a state of good health for all, with no fear of drug costs, and good access to healthcare without concerns about not being able to afford necessary care.
The next item on the agenda was an interview of Chris Jennings by Alexis Simendinger. Alexis is the White House Correspondent for RealClear Politics, and Chris is the founder of Jennings Policy Strategies, with a long history of working in the Executive Branch on health care issues.
Much of the conversation centered on the types of health care plans that the candidates would bring to the White House. The Clinton position, Jennings said, was pretty straightforward. Clinton has a detailed plan on her website, including the expansion of Medicaid, and lowering the age for Medicare to 55. The Trump scenario was described as “Donald Trump vs Donald Trump” as he has held multiple views on the same issues. He’s been both for and against abortion. In favor of closing Planned Parenthood, and a fan of the healthcare they provide. Thus it’s challenging to predict what he might do.
Either candidate, once elected, will need to reauthorize sCHIP as it is due to sunset. This will be an immediate consideration, and the program is critical to millions of children across the country. Chris had been working in the White House in 1994 when the first Clinton healthcare proposal crashed and burned. He related that Hillary’s first question was “If we can’t get it all, what can we do?” This led to a December 1994 note to Newt Gingrich and Bod Dole asking for sCHIP, family healthcare and a revamping of Medicaid. The negotiation led to sCHIP which has helped an incredible number of children grow up healthy over the last two decades.
Then came the panel discussion. The participants were Carl Cannon, Washington Bureau Chief of RealClear Politics, moderator, Maura Calsyn, Director of Health Care Policy for the Center for American Progress, Dylan Scott, Washington Correspondent for STAT, Jeffrey Young, Health Care Reporter for the Huffington Post, and Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst for Real Clear Politics. The discussion was very lively and it was obvious that this group had been on the stage together before, many times.
There was a conversation about Trump and how no one know what he really believes, and that he has no clear policy on healthcare. The panel predicts that things will crystallize during the debates when Hillary Clinton is in complete command of the facts and shows herself to be competent in understanding the issues and having clear cut plans. Trump? Likely not so much.
Jeffrey Young brought up a statistic that gave him great pause. He couldn’t understand how people, when polled, said 46% of the time that their views on healthcare aligned with Hillary Clinton, 32% aligned with Donald Trump and 15% said neither. However, when asked which candidate would do the best for them, they were unsure. Carl Cannon pointed out that when most of this group held a similar conversation last week at the RNC with Tommy Thompson on the panel, Thompson was in favor of the Medicaid expansion and other initiatives supported by Clinton, but felt that Trump would be his pick for health care policy.
This led to the high point of my day. After the program ended, I went to Jeffrey and said I did understand how people could support the ACA but still feel that Trump would put them in a better position. We had an involved discussion, reached some conclusions, and I gave him my card. He looked at it, and said “I’ve read your work over the years.” WOW!
A few notes about the venue. There are a lot of programs that are held in the Convention Center – we all know meeting rooms. The arena is, well, a mob scene. Some private functions are in restaurants. The Future of Healthcare was at the Union League. It’s a private club with a hotel and dining facility (beyond a restaurant) established in 1862. Use their link to check out some photos, they weren’t thrilled with the idea of letting me photograph outside the room in which the program was held. It’s like another world. There is a dress code to get in, and I watched them walk a woman out. She was arriving for the healthcare program, but her shoes were unacceptable so she needed to use the back entrance (yes really!). I went into the ladies room, where the toilet paper has little seals on it, and the sink is adorned with soaps, real towels, mouthwash, hand cream, etc. The attendant called me “ma’am” and I asked her not to, since I’m a Democrat. The Union League even has its own bottled water with its name on one side and a photo of the building on the other. Truly a different world.