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By Alec Stone, MA, MPA, ONS Director of Health Policy

The peculiar and very American experiment in democracy has a quadrennial exercise known as Presidential primary season. From the cornfields of Iowa’s small town caucuses held on February inflatable water parks 1, to Dixville Notch, New Hampshire—registered voting population of 12 in 2010—casting and counting votes at 12:15AM a week later, it is an excitingly historic practice in which we still eagerly partake.

There are self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist and Tea Party candidates who have been running for the US Presidency for close to a year now. Many candidates will drop out of the race by March, as the parade of primary states’ wins and losses winnow the field to a select few.

It’s a fickle process. You’re up in the polls, then you’re down. Raising money, then it dries up. Known as a great orator, then you put your foot in your mouth. Election results can be cruel, and it is not uncommon for a very unlikely candidate to take an idea, build a movement, and win the nomination. Actually, it happens more often than not.

But the most important component is the involvement of the American people. Participatory democracy is unique to this country. This is a dedicated time where issues and topics, discussions and debates, and rhetoric and content are encouraged. Real change begins in the early stages of all campaigns.

For ONS, it is important that members track the candidates and listen to their positions on healthcare, workforce, research, and education. Is there commitment to investment and opportunity? Will the candidates continue their support after winning office? What level of understanding will the new leadership have about the role of the nurse in healthcare?

At the ONS 41st Annual Congress, we will filibuster, argue, grandstand, and bloviate on the Presidential election in “Election 2016: Donkey or Elephant, Educate the Candidates on Oncology Nursing Issues.” Join us for a lively discussion, and bring your attitude. We’ll all have opinions, and we won’t tolerate a lot of hot air!