CNA Welcomes Growth of Activism, Expanded Opportunities For Transformative Change in California and Nationally
With much of the national focus on changing control of the House, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United today highlighted what may be the most significant, and lasting election development–ongoing momentum for grassroots activism, especially on the critical issue of health care.
Nationally, NNU called the election results a rebuke to the corporate agenda, especially on health care – reflected in multiple House races, and in the election of candidates who reflect the diversity of the nation, and said the new House majority should serve as a brake to some of the worst abuses on worker’s rights and public protections.
In California, CNA welcomed the victories of CNA-endorsed Governor-elect Gavin Newsom and the re-election of Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
A number of CNA supported candidates also won in California Congressional and local races, including CNA Board member Jennifer Holm who was elected to the Pajaro Valley School District board near Santa Cruz. “Education is a big predictor of health,” said Holm today. “I’m advocating for strong public education, and that is a long-term investment in patient care, starting at the school level.”
Nationally, widespread dismay over health care costs, and access, especially for people with pre-existing conditions made health care the leading issue for voters.
Public demand for real solutions on health care was seminal in flipping the House, votes expanding Medicaid coverage in red states Nebraska, Idaho and Utah, and electing additional advocates in Congress for guaranteed health care through Medicare for all.
Nurses, said CNA/NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, will work to press for action on Medicare for all, nationally as well as in states like California, while also continuing to escalate movement building.
In California, grassroots activism for Medicare for all will continue to grow, said CNA Co-President Malinda Markowitz, RN, noting that nurses and community activists have continued to canvas across the state, knocking on doors in recent months in all state Assembly districts.
Newsom, noted Castillo, has publicly embraced state action on Medicare for all, including emphasizing that the current system, which has left millions of California with no health coverage or underinsured with escalating out of pocket costs, is “unsustainable.”
The incoming governor has also voiced commitment to address widening income and wealth inequality in California, laudable goals, said Castillo, to which health care costs are a major contributor, additional reasons to work for Medicare for all.
“For nurses, the lives of our patients and the needless suffering they endure must be in the forefront of any solution,” said Castillo. “Guaranteed healthcare for all will erode income disparity – and it is supported by 67 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29. You cannot go halfway. What is required is real reform, in health care, as well as on affordable housing, living wage jobs, and environmental protections. These are moral challenges. Act with political will, but most importantly, act with courage.”
Castillo praised Becerra, who has assertively challenged federal attacks on California as a “model for the nation,” and Padilla, “who is in the forefront of advocating for protecting and expanding voting rights at a time we see so many, as in Georgia, disgracefully carrying out voter suppression tactics.”
At the same time, nurses are appalled by the demagogic incitement of racism and anti-Semitism which stained the national election campaign. “California leaders and activists can contribute to confronting it by being forceful advocates for diversity, and unity on transformative social change issues such as health care and the climate crisis.”
California, however, is a poster child on the corrupting influence of corporate spending in political campaigns, “which have severely compromised the initiative process in California, which was especially evident in the distortions and dishonesty that characterized the corporate campaign against Prop. 10 intended to repeal a draconian anti-tenant law.”
“Nurses will continue to be outspoken in challenging the enormous powerful interests who dominate our economic and political system,” Castillo said.
The best antidote to those politics, like the campaign for real health care reform, is activism, said Castillo. “Mass action by a diverse array of activists, especially young people - the defining development in this election year.”