Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Health Professions Call To Arms

Betook myself last night to the annual Gala Fundraising Dinner of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). Was neither surprised nor overly dismayed by the fluorescent-lit Unitarian Church venue, the hummus-n-cheese-cubes provisions or the ropy-ass entertainment: par for the underfunded, lefty course, and no hard feelings. What did, however, both surprise and dismay was the demographic.

To wit: the median age was about 60. Virtually the entire crowd was made up of ancient white lefty Jews. I was so nearly the youngest attendee as to make no odds, and one of maybe 5 people under 40. When the disco-dancing portion of the evening commenced, there were a good dozen boogyers at significant risk of splintering a hip.

Don't get me wrong here. I have nothing in the world against my elders; quite the opposite. I am hugely impressed by and respectful of the revolutionary fervor that brought every one of those men and women out last night. What disturbs me is the lack of a new generation coming out to take up the standard.

The lovely Executive Director of PNHP-NY assured me that usually there are 15-20 students as well, but this being exam week they couldn't make it. OK, so that accounts (albeit sparsely) for the 21-25-year-old demographic. That only leaves thirty-five years unaccounted for. Where are the radical docs my age? Where are the fucked-off forty-year-olds? There was hardly even anyone my parents' age (late fifties) there. What's up with that?

So last night's folks were obviously good old 50s commies and 60s radicals, respect. Have the intervening decades so far dulled political sensibilities that literally no one dating from the 70s and 80s can work up a head of mad about the scandalous state of health care in America? Can that be? I am troubled, friends. A movement so pervasively osteoporotic, for all its sterling radical cred, cannot be a movement for the long haul.

Now, of all pivotal moments, when national consciousness is finally starting to shift in our direction, we young (and youngish) health-professions people need to get out and do something, get informed and involved, and make this happen before it's too late. If our parents, aunts and older cousins can't bestir themselves, then it's up to us. This moment, and with its current composition this movement, won't last forever. Progressive young medics, get on out there and support single-payer. Please, for all our sakes.

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