By Hannah MacDonald, Global Issues Division Head. Image can be found here.
In the midst of our bustling busy schedules, you may, in your spare time, have noticed on social media the “Just Voted!” stickers and filters. Maybe there’s been an increase in lively family conversations, or you’ve noticed the news is on in your house just a bit more than usual. Or perhaps, most notably, you’ve noticed the competing lawn signs on your neighbor’s grass or banners across the homes of the more outspoken people in your town. Whatever it may be, you’ve noticed that there’s a change in the usual day to day dynamic of your life and the lives of those around you. This change is a result of the upcoming opportunity to exercise the 26th Amendment, our right as U.S. citizens to vote. So, let us dive into what it is that’s being voted on and what our roles are as fellow citizens who have the ability to be a voice in our nation.
Massachusetts: Our State
There are three questions specifically pertaining to Massachusetts on the 2018 ballot.
- Question 1: Patient-to-Nurse Limits Summary written by the State Attorney General: This proposed law would limit how many patients could be assigned to each registered nurse in Massachusetts hospitals and certain other healthcare facilities. The maximum number of patients per registered nurse would vary by type of unit and care…Vote Yes: “I have worked as a bedside nurse for 40 years. I joined nurses from across Massachusetts to write this law and place safe patient limits on the ballot to improve the quality of patient care in Massachusetts hospitals. Independent scientific studies have consistently found that quality of care decreases dramatically when nurses are forced to care for too many patients at once, putting patients at increased risk for complications like pneumonia, medication errors, and more. This initiative establishes a safe maximum limit for the number of patients assigned to nurses in all hospital areas to ensure our patients receive the care and attention they need. It provides maximum flexibility, requiring hospitals to adjust Registered Nurse staffing levels based on the needs of patients and does so without reducing other members of the healthcare workforce. A recent survey found that 86% of Registered Nurses in Massachusetts favor this question.” -Donna Kelly Williams, RN. Massachusetts Nurse Association. Vote No: “Nurses are asking you to vote No on Question 1. Massachusetts hospitals rank among the best in the nation, but Question 1 will put that patient care quality and safety at risk. It forces rigid, government-imposed nurse staffing ratios at every hospital, overriding the professional judgment of nurses and doctors. Question 1 would create a massive unfunded government mandate costing more than one billion dollars in higher healthcare costs annually, causing community hospitals to close and forcing other to reduce emergency, addiction and behavioral health services. Question 1 has been called ‘the most irresponsible approach to healthcare.’ There is no scientific evidence that these rigid ratios improve patient care. Question 1: higher costs, rigid mandates, and one-size-fits-all healthcare. Nurses and over one hundred healthcare organizations, including American Nurses Association Massachusetts, Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, and every Massachusetts hospital urge: Vote NO on Question 1.” -Amanda S. Oberlies, RN. Coalition to Protect Patient Safety.
- Question 2: Commission on Limiting Election Spending and Corporate RightsSummary written by the State Attorney General: This proposed law would create a citizens commission to consider and recommend potential amendments to the United States Constitution to establish that corporations do not have the same Constitutional rights as human beings and that campaign contributions and expenditures may be regulated…Vote Yes: “A YES vote advances an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to limit the influence of money in elections and ensure all Americans have an equal voice in our democracy. Behind our nation’s challenges is a crisis of billionaires and special interests using money to buy access and influence with politicians. These special interests are well-represented, while most Americans are not. The Supreme Court says that laws limiting political spending violate the First Amendment. Most Americans know this is incorrect: Money is not speech, it is power, and concentrated power requires checks and balances. 75% of Americans, including liberals and conservatives, support this amendment to correct the Court, with 19 states and over 200 Massachusetts communities formerly calling for it. This measure creates a non-partisan, unpaid Citizens Commission to be the people’s advocate for this amendment, with commissioners serving at no cost to taxpayers.” -Jeff Clements. People Govern, Not Money. Vote No: “The controversy surrounding the Citizens United decision hinges on our cherished right to Freedom of Speech. In the decision, the court ruled to expand that freedom and apply it equally to all entities and organizations, rather than just the arbitrary list of winners and losers selected by elected officials in previous campaign finance laws. This is a good thing. The First Amendment protection of our Freedom of Speech is one of the pillars of our democracy and should be preserved and expanded at every possible opportunity. The less government standing in the way of the exercise of that right, the stronger it is. However, even if you disagree with the Citizens United decision, an amendment to the United States Constitution is a dangerous and misguided way to go about undoing it. Please vote no on this question.” -Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.
- Question 3: Transgender Anti-Discrimination Summary written by the State Attorney General: This law adds gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort, or amusement… “Gender identity” is defined as a person’s sincerely held gender-related identity appearance, or behavior, whether or not it is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth…The law requires any such place that has separate areas for males and females (such as restrooms) to allow access to and full use of those areas consistent with a person’s gender identity…Vote Yes: “Vote YES to keep in place current laws that keep Massachusetts welcoming and fair, prevents discrimination in places like stores, restaurants, and hospitals, protects transgender youth and adults, (and) lets transgender people go about their daily lives, including in restrooms, which we all need to use. We all value safety and privacy, including transgender people. This law has been in place for two years with no increase in public safety incidents. Harassing people remains illegal, and those who commit crimes are still prosecuted. That’s why experts who support the law include: Law Enforcement…Women’s organizations and the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, and the Massachusetts Parent-Teacher Association. Transgender people are our neighbors, and friends who contribute to our thriving communities. A YES vote upholds basic values of fairness, dignity, and respect for all.” -Susan Donnelly. Freedom for All Massachusetts. Vote No: “Voting NO repeals the ‘Bathroom Bill’ law and prevents men from entering women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and intimate spaces. The law violates the privacy and safety of women by allowing any man identifying as a woman, included convicted sex offenders, to share women’s facilities. Under the law, any attempt to block a man from entering the women’s locker room, dressing room, or bathroom could result in individual penalties of up to $50,000 and a year in prison. Businesses are also affected, like a female spa owner who faced a discrimination claim for declining to wax the genitals of a man identifying as a woman. No law should make women and girls feel unsafe and exploit their privacy and security. The MA Legislature passed a law that goes too far, even refusing to include a provision to exclude convicted sex offenders. A NO vote protects women’s privacy and safety.” -Debby Dugan. Keep MA safe.
United States of America: Our Country
The Midterm elections take place halfway through the President’s running term. The elections vote on one-third of senators and every member of the House of Representatives. Although it may not be as big as a presidential election, the midterms are very important because they determine “which party—Democratic or Republican—will control each chamber of Congress for the next two years. The party that controls a chamber usually wins that chamber’s legislative votes.” Each state will have the opportunity to vote for their House Representatives among other political shifts. For MA Governor, there will be a vote between Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Jay Gonzalez. For MA Senate, there will be a vote between Republican Geoff Diehl, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, and an unexpected independent third party, Shiva Ayyadurai. The seemingly preeminent concern lies in the votes for House and Senate, as it has the potential for effecting the President and what he wants to pass.
What About Us?
It is pivotal come election season that we are aware of what’s happening around us politically. Eighteen will be knocking on our doors before we know it, and when it comes time for each of us to actually vote, we need to be educated and aware of how our decisions will be impacting our day to day lives as well as the rest of the country’s. We are given an incredible opportunity to live in a country where we can engage in a democratic process, and it would be ignorant and foolish to ignore the elections and what they determine. I challenge each of you to take time and further educate yourselves on what will be happening on November 6, 2018. How will your (future)vote impact others? Are you glorifying God by taking advantage of the situations He’s placed you in and using the voice He’s given you? Is your vote going to honor God’s will for how our country will shift as a result of the elections? Join me in praying for God’s guidance over this coming week.
- I pray for your hand to be over the 2018 Midterm Elections. In a time of uncertainty and change, I ask that your will prevails.
- Lord, I ask for a spirit of wisdom and truth when it comes to distinguishing how we should go about voting. Allow us to bring honor to you and remember to not let the wind of politics cloud our judgment for what is true and good.
- I pray specifically for peace God. Allow us to remain civil and remember what it means to disagree and not turn violent. Remind us to love our neighbor and to work towards peace in the face of division.
- Thank you God for being constant and not leaving us even when we turn our backs to you. As a nation, I ask that you take hold of us and help us remember who it is we are here to bring glory to. Thank you for loving us endlessly and for giving us the opportunities we get to partake in today.
In Jesus’s powerful and mighty name,