Upon further reflection, maybe the answer to the question “who’s to blame?” is really, E) You (and me). Winston Churchill once said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter,” a pretty harsh appraisal of the “best” form of government in the world. But ultimately, it is the sum of the whole body politic that is responsible for what we are, and aren’t, as a nation today—and, more important, what we will be in the future. We are not a nation of debt but a nation of debtors. We are not a nation of apathy but a nation of apathetic non-voters. In a world that is becoming more socially, economically, and logistically “flat” every day, our nation is losing its prominence. We are no longer the biggest, smartest, fastest kid on the block in many arenas, and our will to be better, especially in the political arena, will require us to re-embrace the qualities that made us a great nation at one time: hard work and personal responsibility. If we, as individuals, accept and embrace only the “right” or the “left” of our political leaders, then we are destined to be governed by those who are politically at two or three standard deviations out on the curve of the political spectrum. It’s time to identify and support some moderate candidates (or maybe even become one of them). Find, or be, someone who leads by listening to all sides of an argument and then finding a way to compromise and create a better good for the whole of the nation. The founders of the nation would expect nothing less.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 33 – No 02 – February 2014
So what can you do to make this all better? Do what we do best as emergency physicians: listen, reflect, and act. It’s what we do with all our patients. We listen to their history and gather the appropriate and necessary information in order to take the best action to fix a problem. Not all that complicated, really. But now you need to do that outside of the emergency department. Pick the one issue that you are most passionate about and then do what we do best: be a leader on that issue. Be informed and get involved, especially at the local and state levels. As an emergency physician, you carry instant “street cred” within the political arena. The general public greatly respects what we do and listens to us when we speak. Make a call to an elected official, write a letter, testify on a bill, and, yes, maybe even run for office. Your single voice and input can make a difference. Apathy and silence is what all elected officials (especially the bad ones) feed on. Commit this year to being involved on just one issue and to being the voice of moderation and reason in finding a solution to that issue. You will be amazed at what you can do to make the political system and the nation a whole lot better.