If our elected officials represent us in the state and in Washington D.C. then why don’t they listen to us?

They campaign for election telling us they, “understand what we are going through” or “I feel your pain” or more recently, “keep hope alive.” Yet, do they really know what we care about?

The easiest way for them to find out would be to ask us. However, they don’t.

They have organizations run surveys and then have political consultants make recommendations based on the results and then have advertising teams put together a marketable “quote” or “catchy phrase” aimed at placating our fears.

Then it is upon us to write and make our concerns know to them.

I wrote the President, Hawaii born, Barack Obama, about the unfair state nursing wages and benefits and the negative impact that it is having in our state and the current stalemate with the Democratic governor here in Hawaii. I got back a letter which gives no indication that it is related to my letter; rather, it addresses his health care reform law.

“Thank you for writing. I have been moved and inspired by the stories of Americans struggling with health care, and I appreciate your perspective. It is because of the many men and women facing frustration, hardship, and financial burden in addition to significant health problems that we worked so hard to get health reform done.”

Barack Obama

A similar letter to Senior Senator Daniel Inouye yielded different results; his letter acknowledges the actual problem but then mistakenly goes on to dismiss it as already solved.

“I wish to acknowledge receipt of your recent communication regarding the importance of ensuring that our State’s Nurses, and in particular, those in the public sector, are appropriately compensated for their skill and dedication. It is my understanding that the State and the nurses union have recently come to an agreement.”

Daniel K. Inouye

I wrote back to the Senator informing him that he was misinformed about the resolution and that it continues to wreak havoc on his State’s public healthcare.

The above responses by our elected officials were on average 4-5 months after my letters were sent. Even modern technology is brought to a snail’s pace by politics.

Protesting in the street, sign waving, radio talk shows, public question & answer meetings, letters to the editor, do not seem to make an impact on our elected officials and only a passing interest to media outlets.

The Associated Press:

The Associated Press — KAHULUI, Hawaii — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says the state can’t agree to pay nurses who rejected a proposed labor contract.

The politicians tell us they care, when its election time; but ignore the electorate and its concerns soon after.

A handshake, photo op, kissing babies, and eating ethnic food does not show us that you understand anything anymore.

What are we to do? Should we go back to being silent, looking out for ourselves and not the community, not caring in a caring profession?

About the author: Ken Moskow is a former U.S. Airman and currently works at Maui Memorial Medical Center as a psychiatric/behavioral nurse with the adult and adolescent unit.