Still Undecided on Question 1? Read this thoughtful analysis
People have been discussing Ballot Question 1 (Nurse-Patient Assignment Limits). This weekend I shared with my daughter Maya, a new voter, how I make decisions on ballot questions, and I figured I'd share with others too, using Q1 as an example. (Feel free to take or leave, or pass along if you find it useful.)
1. What do people whose opinions I respect think about the ballot question? I seek out the opinions of people I know, have worked with, or who I know to be knowledgeable about the issue - including those directly impacted by it. In this case:
- Judy Goldberger, my former backup partner from when I was a doula in the Boston Medical Center Birth Sisters program, is now a Labor & Delivery nurse at BMC, and she has been posting Yes On 1 articles from other healthcare providers (like this one) on her Facebook page.
- Nika Elugardo, the 15th Suffolk District Democratic nominee, whose campaign I volunteered on and whose progressive politics and personal judgement I respect, endorses Yes On 1 and has channeled her campaign volunteers doorknocking for Yes On 1,2,3 (as well as for other progressive women candidates like Rachel Rollins for Suffolk DA).
- Jobs With Justice (a longtime partner org. of City Life/Vida Urbana, that's based here in JP but works statewide) is campaigning for "The People's Agenda: YES on 1,2,3" and their director, Lily Huang, who I've collaborated with on immigrant rights going back a decade, feels very strongly about Yes On 1 because of her personal experience advocating for family members with limited English in healthcare settings.
- Although I disagreed with JP Progressives' endorsement process in the 2017 elections, controversy over their decisionmaking transparency led to reforms this year, and I have more faith in their 2018 endorsements, which include Yes On 1 ("The ballot question [is] imperfectly worded, [but] there [is] greater concern about continuing to do nothing on this issue after 20yrs of failed negotiations with hospitals... the ballot initiative is just one step in a larger process... elected officials and regulatory agencies would be responsible for the details of implementation to address outstanding issues.")
2.) How much money is being spent for and against the question, and where is the money coming from on each side? Are these groups I agree with, or whose interests line up with mine/the public's?
- Often a campaign with a ton of $ behind it means that's the position corporations and the 1% will benefit from - although just looking at which side has spent more $ isn't the whole story (civil rights groups have outspent the anti-trans lobby on Question 3, but I agree with Yes On 3 and with the groups supporting it).
-On Question 1, public records show that including in-kind, YES On 1 has spent $10.7mil (mostly from MA Nurses Association but also from other unions such as the American Federation of Teachers, and from hundreds of individual donations); while No On 1 has spent $18.9mil (almost all from the MA Hospital Association with a lot of in-kind from local hospitals and their executives).
- A related perspective is to do a power analysis of the Yes and No sides of a ballot question, and the history of how it came to be on the ballot. This article by political science professor Jerold Duquette (a MA resident who teaches at CT State) was a really convincing read to me. ("A YES vote will force hospital lobbyists, nurse’s union representatives, and the state’s elected policy makers back to the bargaining table... [for] all three groups to accept meaningful responsibility for dealing effectively with this issue. A NO vote will further empower and embolden the wealthy special interests whose outsized political influence has prevented the legislature from taking up the nurses’ cause, further weakening the ability of healthcare workers to resist exploitation by hospital administrators.")
3.) What are the merits of the issue? Of course I do my best to understand what the ballot question is proposing... but this is, counterintuitively, the last consideration, especially in cases where I'm not directly impacted. Observing where people close to the issue and/or more knowledgeable than me stand, and researching who is connected to and stands to benefit from each side, is more helpful to my decisionmaking process than holding myself to a standard of myself having an expert-level understanding of the policy.
- There are many news organizations presenting pro and con arguments on Question 1, in addition to theofficial voter information on the MA Secretary of State website
- For the Yes On 1 campaign perspective, their website has one-pagers with their arguments about several aspects of the ballot question (here is their point-by-point rebuttal to the opposition's arguments)
- But reinforcing what JP Progressives & Professor Duquette say, once a ballot question passes, both sides - especially the side with more political capital or influence - have the chance to negotiate with the legislature over implementation. In the best case, internal differences within a coalition can be worked out and a livable compromise enacted; in the worst case, harm to a vulnerable minority group can be mitigated slightly after a wrongheaded, discriminatory measure is passed (I saw this firsthand when, after the 2002 Unz Initiative passed, eliminating bilingual education in MA public schools, the legislature created a carve-out for successful dual-immersion programs, allowing the Hernandez to survive - let's hope this is NOT what happens with Question 3!).
This is how my decision process led me to commit to vote Yes On 1, and why I have phonebanked and canvassed in support of "The People's Agenda: Yes On 1,2,3."
María Christina Blanco Learn about me on LinkedIn