Bernie Sanders Best Represents Nurses' Values

On the eve of the Nevada caucuses, it’s a good time to restate why National Nurses United supports Sen. Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic candidate for President, best representing nurses’ values of caring, compassion and community.

Sen. Sanders has tapped into a yearning of millions for a fundamental break from decades of policies that have led to the shocking chasm in wealth and income inequality, rollback of rights and protections for workers and unions, escalation of racial and gender disparities, and all the other signposts that point to the danger of the rule by the wealthy few, not the people.

“Transformation of our current system, not minor tweaks, will motivate millions of people, especially younger voters alienated by the corruption of our political system, to increase the voter turnout that is needed win in November.”

It is why so many want real change, not just a return to the status quo – and a significant reason why Sen. Sanders has risen in the polling and has the strongest showing among independent voters.

Transformation of our current system, not minor tweaks, will motivate millions of people, especially younger voters alienated by the corruption of our political system, to increase the voter turnout that is needed win in November.

Here are key reasons why NNU is rallying for Sen. Sanders:

Medicare for All. Few issues touch as many American families and individuals as the escalating meltdown of a health care system premised on profit generation and ability to pay.

That is especially evident in Nevada. About 15 percent of Nevada residents 18 and older did not go to a doctor when needed in 2018 because of the high cost. Nearly a third did not have a personal doctor or other caregiver.

Overall, nationally, skyrocketing deductibles and other out of control costs, millions staggering with medical debt, surprise medical bills even for those who think they have good private insurance, claims denials insurers don’t want to pay for, and ongoing attacks on health services by the Trump administration, it’s not hard to see the evidence every day in the major press and social media.

Despite relentless, and misleading attacks by the health care industry and its allies (artfully deconstructed by John Oliver) polls continue to show broad support for Medicare for all, including in the exit polls of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Medicare for All remains the one transformative reform that will finally establish a more humane, compassionate system that treats health care as a right, not a privilege characterized by disparities, discrimination, and despair. Sen. Sanders has long championed Medicare for All; NNU and nurses have too.

Workplace Democracy. President Trump disingenuously ran as a friend of workers.  But in office his administration, including his appointees to the courts and the federal labor board, have escalated the rollback of workplace rights and protections and encouraged the corporate offensive on unions and unions’ ability to advocate for workers.

Sen. Sanders has walked the walk, standing with workers on picket lines for years. He has repeatedly sponsored and co-sponsored legislation to restore and expand worker’s rights to form unions and repeal anti-union laws, as well as promoting substantive reforms, from increasing the minimum wage to workplace safety.

“Sen. Sanders is a strong advocate of women’s reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, protections against workplace harassment, and challenging health, economic, and environmental, gender disparities.”

It’s one reason why Sanders leads in union endorsements, including NNU, the American Postal Workers Union, Clark County (Nevada) Education Association, United Teachers of Los Angeles, United Electrical workers, seven UNITE HERE locals, and a number of other union locals.

Climate and Environmental Justice. Through NNU’s disaster relief program, Registered Nurse Response Network, NNU has dispatched hundreds of volunteer RNs to provide basic medical care for survivors of climate crisis-infused wildfires and super storms, such as Hurricanes Dorian, Maria, Harvey, and Typhoon Haiyan.

We know first-hand that bold action is needed to confront the catastrophic devastation of the climate emergency, as well as reversing the destruction of environmental and pollution protections savaged by Trump’s policies.

Through his advocacy of a comprehensive Green New Deal, and call for a just transition for displaced workers in the fossil fuel industry, Sen. Sanders has a broad, ambitious program second to none on the future of our planet and the life forms on it – one reason major activists, such as the Sunrise Movement, have also endorsed Sanders.

Racial and Gender Justice. Structural racism is literally killing our patients. Sen. Sanders has a comprehensive program on racial justice, from accountability for police misconduct and criminal justice, and mass incarceration reform, ending the war on drugs, reversing social and economic disparities in employment, housing, homelessness, and pollution racial disparities, that have a disproportionate racial impact.

As the New York Times among many others has recognized, Sen. Sanders’ campaign has built a lot of momentum from “the support of nonwhite voters, particularly African American and Hispanic Democrats.”

On women’s rights, Sen. Sanders is a strong advocate of women’s reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, protections against workplace harassment, and challenging health, economic, and environmental, gender disparities.

Ultimately, nurses know it is only through mass movements that sweeping change has ever occurred in the U.S., from abolition of slavery to labor, women’s, and LGBTQ rights. The Sanders campaign is premised on building that movement. We are too.

Common Dreams


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