On November 8, we had another election in this country. It was historic by many measures, and millions of our fellow Americans stood in line and had their voices heard by casting their ballot. It is one of the most beautiful things about this country: every two years, we settle our differences – not by shooting bullets – by casting ballots.
In 2020, research was published analyzing the voting patterns of physicians in Texas, California, and New York. The research found that physicians in those states did not vote as often as the general population. In fact, this study indicated that only half of eligible physicians were even registered to vote. This was very disappointing to me.
The fight for the right to vote in this country has been waged for over a century. When our nation was first established, women did not have the right to vote, and Blacks were not even considered fully human. A lot, thank God, has changed for the better since that time. And, since that time, there have been scores upon scores of Americans who have shed their blood and given their lives to give me the right to vote and have my voice heard.
I cannot let that fight, I cannot let the lives of those brave Americans be lost in vain by neglecting to do my duty as a citizen and registering to vote and then voting in every election.
In so many countries in our world, sham elections are held where the dictator receives “99.9%” of the vote tally. In so many countries in our world, people’s lives and livelihoods are placed in danger for daring to have their voices be heard. In so many countries in our world, people yearn for the privileges that we here take for granted. This fact motivates me to get out the vote and let my voice be heard.
Those of us in healthcare – physicians especially – should be at the vanguard of those who consistently cast their ballots in every election, large or small. So much of our profession is regulated by policymakers and legislators who are not in healthcare. So much of what we do is, many times, subject to the whims of politicians and the machinations of electoral and partisan politics. We deserve a say in this process, and as the saying goes, “if you are not at the table, then you are on the menu.” The very first thing we need to do to be at the table is vote and have our voices heard.
In January of this year, another paper was published showing an increasing trend of physician turnout in elections:
This is encouraging to see, and we need to continue this trend.
We all have very busy professional and personal lives. It can be hard, sometimes, to take the time and cast a ballot, especially since election day is usually during the workweek. Take that time, however, we must. It is not only our duty as citizens of this country, but – as this year’s study authors noted: “physicians’ engagement with the political process, particularly through voting, plays an important role in shaping public policy, affecting patient health and clinical practice.”