Shimon Waldfogel, MD
Founder and President of Citizens4Health
Shimon lives and works in the Philadelphia area. He is a board-certified psychiatrist who is an assistant professor at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pa. He is an attending psychiatrist at Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington PA. Shimon received his medical training at Ben-Gurion University in Israel and his residency training in psychiatry at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
The opinions and activities associated with Citizens4Health and Shrinkthegovernment.org, are Dr. Waldfogel's alone and do not reflect those of his current, previous employers or any other entity.
I am a United States citizen. I take that role quite seriously. The past decade — with the financial meltdown, the polarized political debate over health care, the concerns about the financial future of the country and now the Trump Presidency — has made me realize that voting in elections is not enough. Now more than ever, I realize that citizenship requires more active engagement in the political process. As an engaged citizen and psychiatrist, I hope to contribute a unique voice to the current political conversation. I started Citizens4health to provide a vehicle for my civic engagement and to reach out to others who share my belief that motivated citizens can have an impact in our political system.
For too long I have felt marginalized and disengaged from politics as the dialogue has become more and more partisan, answering to the demands of extreme constituencies on the left and right. Citizenship requires a basic understanding of the complex issues that face our nation, and we must hold our political representative accountable for solving them. Yes, ideology plays a role in framing the challenges and provides the tension needed for active political dialogue of differing opinions. It is when ideology becomes rigid that the conversation turns disrespectful and misleading. That puts our very foundations as a democracy in danger.
But my passions and experience go beyond ideologies. In other roles as a healthcare provider, a consumer of healthcare services, and a patient, I have had a particular interest in the healthcare debate that led to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I followed the debate closely in the print media, watched hearings and news conferences on C-SPAN and various news shows, participated in town hall meetings, and discussed developments with fellow healthcare providers and citizens. What I came to realize was quite distressing: Rather than being based on facts, the debate was driven by opinions and lies crafted by highly paid experts to assure the continuation of the status quo. Rather than achieving solutions, the healthcare debate, leading to the ACA and the subsequent political fallout, has poisoned our political environment. Instead of contributing solutions to a major problem, it has further entrenched the political gridlock and made solutions to an urgent problem that much more elusive.
More than anything, the most discouraging aspect of the current political environment is what it says about how our political representatives view us, their fellow citizens. I felt that these politicians’ actions and speeches were quite demeaning, tapping into our pessimism rather than our optimism.
So when the president and other politicians ask the public for ideas, my understanding of psychology and involvement in the healthcare system gets me engaged. I want to change the way legislators look at the issues. I want to change the conversation. My mind reels with an action plan that leverage digital technology to allow every citizen to contribute and share ideas that will lead to solutions.
If you share my concerns about the current state of the political environment and feel as I do that we need to tap into the American optimism, not pessimism, I invite you to join me and my fellow citizens as we engage in a deliberative process that will achieve lasting solutions that work for us.
Join me in reclaiming a political voice and exercising our citizenship on the important issues of the day.