By Alma Ames, Licensed Practical Nurse II at United Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and delegate to the SEIU convention
A lot of politicians seem like they're up in the clouds, and I don't mean heaven. They're out of touch, looking down on the 99% like we're a bunch of little ants.
The 1% needs to give back to society and pay their fair share in taxes. They are ignoring God's word: give and it will be given to you. The people at the top, all they are doing is taking while the rest of us are giving. Gas prices go up while oil companies pay practically nothing in taxes and reap huge profits. Our rent keeps rising and groceries cost more and more, but workers' wages are going down. The big banks got bailed out by us, the taxpayers, but they're still kicking people out of their homes and paying CEOs millions of dollars.
During 40 years as a Licensed Practical Nurse at United Medical Center in Washington, D.C., my co-workers, my union and I have been giving from our hearts in every way we can. Our facility is under constant threat of having services cut or being or closed down entirely. Through my union, we have been able to rally and fight to keep our hospital's doors open. We have forced our hospital to reveal their finances and how money is being spent, and sometimes misspent. We have gone to countless city council hearings, and I've personally given testimony about how absolutely vital our hospital is for our community.
It would be disastrous if our medical center closed, because we are the only hospital in the area. If seriously ill or injured patients from our community were forced to travel across the river to the next closest hospital, they would be dead by the time they got there.
Also, we serve a particularly vulnerable population. A lot of my patients are low-income, uninsured and often homeless. Their blood pressure can be through the roof, they're not taking necessary medication, and their diabetes is out of control. My patients often ask for me by name and call me "The Miracle Worker" because I try to enroll them in insurance programs and we fight the insurance companies to make sure they are paying for the necessary procedures and prescriptions. My co-workers and I try every day to provide our patients, who are often gravely ill, with the best possible care. If they are hungry, and I have a few extra dollars on me, I try to give them $5 or $10 here and there for a meal.
Someone like Mitt Romney could not even comprehend what it is like at my hospital. When Romney said he didn't care about lower-income people, it wasn't a mistake, it revealed how he truly feels. To anyone who is considering voting for Romney, I would ask, do you really think that he understands you and is looking out for you? If Mitt Romney is elected, he will serve the big banks and Wall Street, just as he did at Bain Capital, and take everything away from us. He will take us back 10, 20, 30 years to a much more unequal America.
But I think President Obama has his feet on the ground and understands people who work for a living better than most politicians. He was raised by a working class single mother, and spent time as a community organizer fighting for better jobs, housing and education. The politicians who have been bought off by corporations have spent the past three years fighting every single one of his policies, but still he has been able to steadily improve our economy, end the recession and add jobs. We need to give him another four years so he can finish what he started.
I just attended the SEIU convention in Denver, and it was inspiring to see so many SEIU members from different backgrounds and industries coming together. It shows that it doesn't matter if you're Black, White, Latino, Asian or any other background. If you're poor, you're poor. If you work for a living, you work for a living. That is the common ground we all share. We gave each other our knowledge and support, so we can go back to our home states and be better able to give to our communities, to our country and to the world.