“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
-John F. Kennedy
Whether you follow the news closely or prefer to passively catch headlines here and there, it’s hard to escape the sense of combativeness and divisiveness that comes with today’s political coverage. Issues are often framed in a republican vs. democrat, right vs. left, or conservative vs liberal context, and each outcome comes with a winner and a loser. One of the many beautiful things about being a part of NAMI is that, as a nonpartisan organization, our work can cut through the confusion of “us vs. them” and focus instead on an issue that doesn’t discriminate by political party.
When I came to NAMI, I had my own curiosities about what it meant when my coworkers mentioned being “nonpartisan” in our efforts. I expected it to mean that, while we may not publicly support a certain political party, mental health care was probably either a liberal or conservative cause, and that we worked primarily with whatever side it happened to land on. After walking five feet into the NAMI Wisconsin building on my first day, however, that preconception was completely shattered. When you step foot into our building, two of the most prominent fixtures that draw your attention are a declaration letter penned by Republican Governor, Scott Walker, as well as a similar letter of support written by Democratic Senator, Tammy Baldwin. You’d be hard pressed to find a picture of these two political figures standing side by side stumping for a common cause, yet here they are, hanging in our entry way, expressing their official written support for NAMI. While it may seem like a simple decorative coincidence, to me it speaks volumes about the pervasiveness of our organization’s mission. The footprint of mental illness is not only deeply personal, but also spreads wide throughout our communities.
Mental illness doesn’t care if you live in a red state or a blue state. Mental illness doesn’t care if you voted republican or democrat in the last election. Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income, and NAMI’s mission is to improve the quality of life of people for all of those that feel its effects. This message rings loudly across the political aisle, and with your help, we can continue to make our mission a reality. If you care about NAMI and what it stands for, please do not hesitate to make your voice heard. NAMI’s ability to affect change lies not in the lap of one political party, but instead in the hands of thousands of people who care about mental health care and want to make a difference.
To learn more about how to get involved with NAMI Wisconsin's advocacy efforts, please click here.
Written by: Nate Schorr, Executive Director of NAMI Wisconsin